Thanks to corona: Germany hits climate targets for 2020

Thanks to corona: Germany hits climate targets for 2020

Germany has managed to meet its national climate goal for 2020 - but only just, and in large part thanks to the coronavirus pandemic

Germany exceeds target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Germany emitted almost 739 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2020, the Federal Environment Ministry (UBA) announced this week. That’s around 70 million tonnes less than in 2019 (minus 8,7 percent). Compared to 1990, emissions fell by 40,8 percent, meaning the federal republic has just exceeded its target of an overall decrease of 40 percent. 

According to the UBA, this is the largest annual decline in almost three decades. However, the authority added that around a third of the reduction in emissions could be attributed to “the coronavirus effect” - with the lockdowns placing restrictions on production and mobility. 

This is reflected in the detailed figures, which show how much emissions were cut in key areas. For instance, with flights grounded and non-essential travel discouraged, emissions in the transport sector fell by 11,4 percent last year. While offices and shops remained closed, emissions in the energy sector fell by 14,5 percent. 

“It’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic has fuelled the reduction in emissions,” said Environment Minister Svenja Schulze.” The only sector to miss its 2020 targets was the buildings sector, which produced a good 120 million tonnes of greenhouse gases. 

Effects of climate package beginning to show

The remainder of the decrease can be attributed to policy and structural changes. 2020 was the first year the figures have been released since the introduction of Germany’s controversial climate law in 2019 - a package of policies that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. Policies include the incentivisation of renewable energy, expanding electric car infrastructure, and extra taxes on climate-damaging emissions. 

Schulze said the data showed that Germany had made fundamental progress, even without the effects of the pandemic. Nonetheless, “the fact that Germany has now achieved its climate target for 2020 is no reason to rest.” 

She pointed out that the EU is set to revise its climate targets in the coming years and this will also have consequences for Germany. “That is why the federal government should double the planned expansion rate for wind and solar power this decade,” she said. “Catastrophes and economic crises cannot replace sensible climate policy and sustainable restructuring of our economy.” 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

Read more



Leave a comment