Germany’s Got a Long-Term View

Maybe being awarded the Fossil last Wednesday helped because Germany has pulled itself together and ended the fight between the ministries of environment, economy, agriculture and transport. It also finally published its 2050 climate action plan yesterday.

Let’s give them a big hug! We know, it’ been painful. Germany is now the first country to present a detailed long-term low greenhouse gas emissions development strategy outlining how it intends to decarbonise its economy. What ECO likes about the plan is that it includes interim targets for 2030, broken down by individual sectors: power, industry, transport, buildings and agriculture. This gives citizens, companies and investors the clarity they need. Germany also recognises its international responsibility, placing the plan (which includes an explicit reference to international climate finance and support for developing countries to implement their NDCs) in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

This has to be a short hug, though: Germany has to get back to work. Fossil lobbyists were successful in stripping many good elements from the plan. There are quite a few gaps in the document that need to be strengthened:

  • The headline targets—a range between 80 and 95% reduction by 2050—are still not enough to deliver Germany’s share of the global effort urgently needed to limit warming to 1.5°C. These need increasing.
  • The plan’s targets can only be achieved if Germany phases out coal. But the government lacked the courage to explicitly say so. This only creates uncertainty and makes a just transition for workers and communities more difficult to organise.
  • The call for the establishment of a commission with representatives from civil society to develop new opportunities for coal producing regions is a real necessity! ECO hopes that this commission is not going to be a meeting of fossil lobbyists. And given the urgency of the transition, why would you wait until 2018 for the first meeting? Minster Gabriel, we suggest inviting the commission, civil society and climate scientists for a Christmas brunch this year! The earlier, the better—and you might find a solution before next year’s elections?
  • ECO could not agree more that the EU emissions trading scheme needs to be reformed and strengthened so it can become an effective policy tool. What happened to the concrete idea of a floor price in the ETS being included in the plan?

ECO is a friend of the learning process and ratchet mechanisms and hopes that Germany will revise its 2050 plan and work to increase the EU’s NDC, bringing it in line with the Paris obligations in time for the first review of ambition in 2018! Only then can Germany again be a role model—especially for other G20 states, as Germany will hold the Presidency in 2017.

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