Germany Supercharges Its Climate Ambition

Our Daily Planet

After the German Constitutional Court ruled that the country's climate plans weren't sufficient, the government has announced its new plans:

  • Cutting carbon emissions 65% by 2030 and 88% by 2040 (based on a 1990 baseline)
  • Aiming for net-zero emissions by 2045, five years earlier than the initial target

The court ruling specifically called out Germany for only making plans through the end of this decade and leaving the remaining 20 years of effort to hit net zero unmapped.

"That is a fair offer for the younger generations in that we are not leaving the biggest burden for the future," Environment Minister Svenja Schulze told Reuters. "Each decade, each generation takes responsibility."

Why This Matters

Setting a clear path for reaching net-zero with intermediate goals along the way makes it more likely that Germany will actually hit that goal. For Sophie Backsen, one of the court case plaintiffs, it matters personally: her 300-year-old family farm on the North Sea island of Pellworm could be swallowed by rising seas. Ramping down emissions and slowing the temperature rise that's melting glaciers and causing sea level rise is the path to keeping Pellworm above water.

As always, the work of hitting these targets still lies ahead.

A Rising Green Party

Germany's current government is led by Angela Merkel, and the center-right Christian Democrat Union party (CDU) she belongs to has been in power for 16 years. That could change this fall. The Green party currently leads polls going into elections this September. Annalena Baerbock, the party's frontrunner for chancellor, was born the year the Greens were founded and has campaigned on a faster phase-out of coal and $500 billion in just transition spending. And with the current U.S. administration, she's eager to "get moving and point the way towards a European and transatlantic Green Deal," as she told Deutsche Welle.

Under these political circumstances, the CDU lawmakers who wrote the initial 2019 plan were eager to applaud the court decision. The Green party followed their newly announced targets by proposing a 70% emissions reduction by 2030, 5% more than the updated goal.


Copyright © 2021 Our Daily Planet. Reprinted here with permission. This version may have been edited from the original article published on May 6, 2021.