UBA: German Climate Protection Goal in Danger as Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rise by 1.2% in 2013

Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions increased again by 1.2% in 2013, according to preliminary calculations and estimates by the German Environment Agency (UBA). In total roughly 951 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent were emitted in Germany in 2013, almost 12 million tonnes more than last year, UBA said. If this trend continued it was hardly possible to reach the German climate protection goal for 2020, UBA Vice-President Thomas Holzmann warned.

Until 2020 Germany intends to lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 40%. According to UBA, the decrease currently amounts to 23.8%.

CO2 emissions rose most (1.5%) in 2013, the reason being a higher use of hard coal in the electricity generation and a weather related higher use of oil and gas for heating, UBA said UBA did not mention an increase in lignite used in lignite-fired power plants in 2013. Besides, net electricity exports increased by over 7% to 33 TWh, increasing emissions, UBA pointed out without further explanation. On the whole Germany has been exporting more than is has been importing for the past ten years (and occasionally even before), yet exports have in particular increased in 2012 and 2013, following the 2010/2011 energy policy shift that lead to a boom of renewable energy, which at times exceeds demand to a degree that prices at the energy exchange become negative, while at other times renewable energy is not available due to weather conditions so that conventional power plants have to fill the gap.

1. Growth of Renewables Helped to Keep Rise in Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Check

As in the previous years the growing amount of renewable energy mitigated the rise in greenhouse gas emissions despite the increasing use of coal for the power production, leading to a moderate growth of emissions, UBA said, quoting the Working Group Energy Balances that recently said that renewables accounted for 23.9% of the electricity production.

“We are well advised to continue expanding renewable energy sources speedily. When amending the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), we should ensure that the growth targets laid down can be reached, in particular for onshore wind power and solar energy. At the same time the conventional power plant fleet has to be modernised so that plants are more flexible and more CO2 efficient”, UBA Vice President Holzmann said (regarding the EEG reform, please see here).

2. UBA Demands for Improved Climate Protection on National and European Level

a) European Climate Protection Target

“European and national climate protection apparently does not suffice. We therefore welcome that the German government advocates for laying down a 40% emission reduction target for 2030 in Bruxelles. Besides, ambitious EU Goals for the growth of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency are also important”, Mr Holzmann said (regarding the latest Commission proposal for 2030 targets, which also contains a 40% emission reduction, please see here).

b) National Measures

Nationally, the focus should be laid on energy-efficient renovations of buildings and sustainable mobility, UBA demanded.

c) European Emission Trading System

According to UBA, a reform of the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) is key to success in the fight against greenhouse gas emissions. “Presently, the EU ETS does not provide sufficient incentives for enterprises to use less climate damaging energy sources. We support the government to introduce measures stabilising the EU ETS well before 2020”, UBA Vice-President Holzmann said.

UBA pointed out that emission trading covers more than 50% of the national CO2 emissions and informed that verified CO2 emissions for 2013 will be available by 1 April 2014.

Source: UBA



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