The Paris Agreement adopted by world governments at the end of 2015 sets the goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 °C and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C.
To achieve this, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted globally in the future need to be greatly reduced. The Paris Agreement is intended to ensure that annual global emissions are reduced as fast as possible, thereby stretching the remaining carbon budget and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero in only a few decades.
Both the EU and Germany have committed themselves to achieving climate neutrality by no later than 2050.
1. Germany can achieve climate neutrality by 2050 in three steps while adhering to existing investment cycles. The first step consists of a 65% reduction in emissions by 2030. The second step is the complete transition to climate-neutral technologies, for a total emissions reduction of 95%. The third step is the offsetting of residual emissions through carbon capture and storage.
2. The path to climate neutrality involves a comprehensive investment program comparable in scope to the German economic miracle of the 1950s and 60s. The core elements of the program are the creation of a renewable-based energy sector, mass electrification, a smart and efficient modernization of buildings and the development of a hydrogen economy for the industrial sector. Besides achieving climate neutrality, the program will also improve people’s quality of life by reducing noise and air pollution.
3. An enhanced German reduction target of 65% for 2030, in line with the requirements of the European Green Deal, will require significantly accelerating the green transition in the energy, transport and heating sectors. This includes the complete phase-out of coal by 2030, a 70% share of renewables in electricity generation, 14 million electric cars on the road, 6 million heat pumps, an increase in the green retrofit rate of at least 50% and the use of some 60 TWh of clean hydrogen.
4. The next legislative period will determine how Germany goes about achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and a 65% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030. Government action after the 2021 federal election will be pivotal for future climate policy. Intelligent policy instruments will be needed to modernize Germany’s economy and make it sustainable and resilient. They will also be needed to ensure that the structural changes are as fair and inclusive as possible.