Germany may not reach its 2020 target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990, according to a new report released by the German environment ministry on December 14. Its coal power plants are to blame.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, Germany has implemented several measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions since 2014. But environmental activists have warned efforts need to be greater. By 2015, emissions were down by just 27%.

According to environmental campaigners including Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Friends of the Earth Germany and the network Klima-Allianz Germany, the gap between government pledges and needed cuts could be more than 20 million tonnes of CO2.

While the 40% reduction currently looks unrealistic, the environment ministry is still hoping to reach at least 37%. But environmental groups say emissions are more likely to go down by only 33.5%.

In an interview with DW, Tina Löffelsend from Friends of the Earth Germany said: "For the first time, the government has seriously taken a look at emissions and analysed if the target can be reached. But we have to make clear, the gap is larger than they said, and what they can cover with the proposed measures is less than anticipated.”

Nina Wettern, press officer for Germany’s environment ministry, told DW that they are working hard to reach 2020 climate goals. She added that 70% of the measures proposed for the Action Plan 2020 have already been adopted.

Environmentalists, however, point to coal. In Germany, power generation currently causes 40% of greenhouse gas emissions – and more than 40% of its current electricity generation comes from coal (brown and hard coal together).

Since brown coal is the most emissions-heavy energy source, phasing this out would be the most effective measure for reducing emissions and reaching climate targets in the short term.

According to DW, however, coal has a very powerful lobby in Germany that will prevent a quick phase-out.

In a separate online report, Power Engineering International noted that Germany’s action plan (since 2014) to cut emissions has included efforts to boost demand for electric cars and agreeing to mothball some brown coal-fired power plants.

The action plan, however, was expected to save between 62m and 78m tonnes of carbon dioxide, but now the government expects savings of just 58m tonnes, the environment ministry’s report said.

Διαβάστε ακόμα