The admission of misses on the CO2 emissions front comes at a time when Germany has also been under fire for standing hard on its refusal to extend its nuclear energy options. That has meant a higher dependence on Russian gas, complicating both the politics, and efficiency of its move towards climate targets.
German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck says Germany must do far more to achieve its CO2 reduction goals and will dramatically boost renewables, climate-neutral production and energy efficiency.
In a remarkably frank and critical “state of the nation” press conference in Berlin, Minister Habeck said that Germany would fall short of its CO2 emissions targets in 2022 and 2023 and would move to immediately accelerate measures across the energy spectrum.
“We are starting with a drastic deficit,” said Habeck. “The previous climate protection measures in all sectors are insufficient. But we are doing everything we can to close the gap. We’ll have to triple the speed of emissions reductions.”
While pointing out that Germany had increased its share of renewable energy to 42 percent in the past 30 years, Habeck said the country had only eight years to realize its goal of 80 percent by 2030. He criticized stagnating levels of new wind and solar energy facility construction, saying, “The trend is going in the wrong direction.”
He said the government would target exponential increases in renewable energy production. He announced a legislative package, to be put before parliament this summer, that would include mandatory photovoltaic installations for newly constructed buildings and accelerated construction of off- and on-shore wind turbines on approved sites. The government said that Germany was targeting wind-energy facilities on two percent of Germany’s square area.
The legislation, Habeck said, will also include a revision of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) to make renewables a matter of national security. It will offer financial support in the form of so-called Carbon Contracts for Difference to companies transitioning to climate-neutral forms of production. And it will bolster Germany’s National Hydrogen Strategy and enhance energy-efficiency standards in construction.
Habeck also said the government would take measures to increase the immigration of specialists, for example engineers, to ensure the country has sufficient expertise to realize its energy goals. He characterized the changes to come as not only a “challenge” but an “opportunity” to ensure Germany’s economy remained “innovative, competitive and prosperous.”
Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI), the German government’s international economic promotion agency, stresses that international businesses will be able to profit from the recalibration of government policy, particularly if they are on the ground in Germany.
“It’s highly unusual for a German government to be this critical of the status quo and this specific about what will be done about it,” says GTAI CEO Robert Hermann. “All the change means major new chances for agile and innovative domestic and international companies that can help Germany reach its climate goals.”
“The climate protection plans represent a historical chance,” adds GTAI Director of Energy, Construction and Environmental Technologies Thomas Grigoleit. “They will provide powerful impulses in all areas of the energy economy. We expect rapid growth in solar and wind energy installations, in hydrogen production and in energy efficiency. This is a gigantic challenge, but one that also opens up new avenues for domestic and international companies to develop, produce and of course market innovative sustainable products in Germany.”
Germany is also set to oppose the move by the EU to categorise nuclear as a green energy, something that is bound to earn it severe criticism from an increasing cohort of experts who believe that meeting key net zero commitments, or even targeting a further improvement in net zero targets is going to be impossible without nuclear.