11 December, 2019

German transport sector off course for Paris climate targets - study

Germany will have to boost its national targets and implement appropriate measures, including in the transport sector, if it is to do its part to help keep global warming within 1.5°C, according to a new Climate Analytics study commissioned by the Agora Verkehrswende initiative. It will also have to support the EU in raising its climate ambition.

Germany will have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly more than planned if it wants to do its part in meeting the Paris Agreement. The globally most cost-effective way for Germany to help limit global warming to 1.5°C is to increase its 2030 reduction target from 55 percent to 73 percent, relative to 1990 levels.

Achieving this will not be easy. In particular, it places considerable demands on the transport sector, which will have to increase its 2030 reduction target from 40–42% to 53% by 2030. As the report says, “Germany is far from being on track.”

Climate Analytics drafted the study “En Route to Paris: Implications of the Paris Agreement for the German Transport Sector” “En Route to Paris: Implications of the Paris Agreement for the German Transport Sector” for Agora Verkehrswende. Based on the IPCC special report “Global Warming of 1.5°C” and scenarios of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the study’s authors determined national and sectoral emission budgets to minimise global mitigation costs.

Next, they examined how far Germany’s emissions would have to fall were its national share of greenhouse gas reductions to follow principles of climate equity. They found that Germany would have to decrease its emissions by 87 percent by 2030, rather than 73 percent. To close the gap between fair and “least-cost” reductions, Germany will have to significantly strengthen its commitment to international carbon mitigation efforts.

“With the measures it has taken so far, Germany will fall short not only of its own climate targets but also those set by the Paris Agreement,” Christian Hochfeld, the executive director of Agora Verkehrswende, says. Hochfeld stresses that the German government must go beyond the climate policies it recently adopted. Moreover, it must strongly urge the EU to raise its climate targets for 2030. “The new President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced a climate protection offensive known as the European Green Deal,” Hochfeld notes. “The German government must seize this opportunity and support the Commission in formulating ambitious European climate policies. Pulling the brake now would be a serious setback in the fight against global warming.”

According to the study, if current emissions trends in the German transport sector continue until 2050, the sector’s cumulative emissions will amount to 5.4 billion tonnes. By contrast, to be consistent with the 1.5°C target, the sector may release no more than 2.6 billion tonnes. “Therefore,” the study concludes, “urgent measures are needed to reduce emissions and get on a pathway towards decarbonisation.”

The report recommends the rapid expansion of solar and wind power generation, the accelerated electrification of passenger and freight transport and the shift from road vehicles to more environmentally friendly means of transport.

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