In May 2021, the German government proposed to reduce emissions by 65% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. In June 2021, the new goal was enshrined in the amended Climate Protection Law. While it is step forward, the country has not yet aligned its policies to its target: current policy projections would result in emissions falling by only 49% by 2030.
Compatibility with 1.5°C pathways requires Germany to increase its 2030 emissions reduction goal to 68-76% by 2030 below 1990 levels.
The new EU emissions reduction goal also makes it necessary for Germany to significantly increase its goal as it has a much higher capability to do more than most other EU member states. Germany’s emissions per capita are still quite high – over 20% above EU average.
Long term pathway
In addition to increasing its 2030 emissions reduction goal, the amendment of the Climate Protection Law from June 2021, also included an emissions reduction goal of 88% by 2040. Germany should reach net zero GHG by 2048. Current policies adopted by March 2021 would only result in emissions reduction of 67%.
This is a significant improvement from the initial version of the Climate Protection Law, however in order to be 1.5°C compatible, Germany should target emissions levels no higher than 27-84 MtCO₂e/yr or a reduction of 93-102% by 2050, including the use of BECCS, but excluding LULUCF emissions.
While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries such as Germany, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier.
Recent studies indicate a potential of around 63 MtCO₂e/yr of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies by 2045 for Germany. Given that the land sector in Germany is limited, and even projected to become a source, the country would need to implement CDR technologies to compensate these remaining positive emissions.