CO2 emissions fall considerably for first time in years
Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks pointed out a change in Germany's climate action trend. She stated that in 2014, for the first time in years, greenhouse gas emissions in Germany have dropped significantly. "We do not yet have conclusive figures, but I anticipate that greenhouse gas emissions in Germany for this year will had dropped by around 3 percentage points. This shows that climate action in Germany is finally back on track."
Initial estimates from the Working Group on Energy balances (AGEB) show that CO2 emissions for 2014 have fallen by approximately 40 million tonnes when compared with the previous year. The good news according to the Minister is that this development is not solely due to mild weather conditions at the start and end of the year. She commented that "[t]his drop in emissions is in part once again thanks to real progress made in climate action".
The continuous expansion of renewable energies has contributed to this development; the share of renewables has gone from 25 percent to 27 percent of total energy consumption. In addition to this, data from the Working Group on Energy balances (AGEB) shows that energy consumption has fallen considerably in Germany. As a result, there was a significant drop in the use of hard coal, but there was also a slight decline in the use of lignite. "This is a positive development, but we must continue to increase the momentum of climate action."
Hendricks considers the adoption of the Climate Action Programme 2020 by the Cabinet in December a good basis for achieving the national climate target by 2020. However, she underlined that considerable efforts are still required and that climate action efforts will be focusing on the resolute transformation of the energy system:
"We must continue along the agreed path for renewable energy expansion if we want to achieve our climate targets. This also means that we must once again strengthen our efforts to see renewable energies as a modernisation programme for energy policy. The costs calculation phase with exaggerated talk of uncontrollable skyrocketing costs was thankfully brought to an end at the start of the legislative period. However, we still need more positive sentiment for the climate-friendly conversion of our energy supply. Climate action with renewable energies and energy efficiency is above all a huge opportunity for the German economy."
At the same time Minister Hendricks warned that the conversion of our energy supply must be implemented in such a way that the growth of renewable energy sources is accompanied by the reduced use of power generated from fossil fuel sources, in particular from coal. "The unfortunate trend of not using state of the art and energy efficient gas power plants whilst the oldest and most inefficient coal-fired power plants are producing energy until they break down must be gradually reversed."
Minister Hendricks once again called for the European Commission's plan to reform the EU emissions trading scheme to be brought forward: "We know what the problem is with the emissions trading scheme and we know how to fix it. I don't see why we should wait any longer to solve this problem. The reforms could come into effect as early as the start of 2017. I will be strongly advocating this in the coming months within the EU."