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Germany Sectors

What is Germanyʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Emissions from the building sector in Germany fell by 45% between 1990 and 2021 – slightly above the trend for the overall emissions which decreased by 39% in the same period.22 In 2020, over 58% of energy consumed in the households came from oil and gas, whereas the share of renewable energy-based heating amounted only to 14%. Electricity satisfied 19% of the energy consumed in the households.23

The 1.5°C compatible emissions pathways assume a significant decrease in emissions in the 2030s and the 2040s, driven by a high electrification rate. By 2030 almost half of the energy consumed in households is set to take the form of electricity, the share of which reaches almost 80% in 2050. Some scenarios also result in hydrogen playing a role especially in the decarbonisation of heating. Most scenarios assume a decrease in energy consumption, in some cases by more than half. The sector becomes fully decarbonised in the 2040s.

While new buildings are on average around 20% more efficient than those built at the beginning of the century, the main challenge are older buildings, which require deep renovation.24 To reach zero emissions, the rate of renovation needs to be significantly increased. This requires more ambitious policies and funding. To avoid carbon lock-in, all new and renovated buildings should be banned from installing new fossil fuel heating systems and obliged to generate a large portion of their energy from renewable sources and heat pumps. Development of district heating powered by renewable energy constitutes another viable option for the decarbonisation of the building sector.

1 BMU. Lesefassung des Bundes-Klimaschutzgesetzes 2021 mit markierten Änderungen zur Fassung von 2019. (2021).

2 Climate Action Tracker. Germany | Climate Action Tracker. (2020).

3 Climate Action Tracker. Germany’s proposed 2030 national target not yet 1.5˚C-compatible. (2021).

4 European Environment Agency. Trends and Projections in Europe 2020. (2020).

5 Agora Energiewende. Publication – Towards a Climate-Neutral Germany by 2045 (2021).

6 Deutscher Bundestag. Kohleausstiegsgesetz. 2020, 202 (2020).

7 Deutscher Bundestag. Gesetz für den Ausbau erneuerbarer Energien (ErneuerbareEnergien-Gesetz – EEG 2021). (2021).

8 Statistisches Bundesamt. Jährliche Erdgasimporte – Statistisches Bundesamt. (2020).

9 AG-Energiebilanzen. Strommix. (2021).

10 Handelsblattt. Ende der Windpark-Förderung: Gigantischer Rückbau der Windenergie. (2020).

11 Tagesschau. Energiewende in Deutschland: Der Windkraftausbau stockt massiv | tagesschau.de. (2021).

12 Umweltbundesamt. Previous year’s estimate of German greenhouse gas emissions for 2020. (2021).

13 European Environment Agency (EEA). Member States’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emission projections. (2021).

14 Eurostat. Complete energy balances. (2022).

15 Umweltbundesamt (UBA). Erneuerbare Energien in Zahlen. Umweltbundesamt (UBA) (2022).

16 Agora Energiewende. Die Energiewende im Corona-Jahr: Stand der Dinge 2020. (2021).

17 Eurostat. Complete energy balances. (2020).

19 Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschland (SPD), Bündnis 90/Die Grünen & Freien Demokraten (FDP). Mehr Fortschritt wagen – Bündnis für Freiheit, Gerechtigkeit und Nachhaltigkeit. 68 (2021).

20 German Government. Entwurf eines Ersten Gesetzes zur Änderung des Bundes-Klimaschutzgesetzes. (2021).

21 Deutscher Bundestag. Deutscher Bundestag – Bundestag verschärft das Klimaschutzgesetz. (2021).

22 Umweltbundesamt (UBA). Treibhausgas-Emissionen. Umweltbundesamt (UBA). (2022).

23 Umweltbundesamt (UBA). Energieverbrauch nach Energieträgern und Sektoren. Umweltbundesamt (UBA). (2022).

24 Umweltbundesamt (UBA). Entwicklung des Heizenergieverbrauchs (Brandenburg, 2002-2020). (2020).

25 Immoor, K. Green hydrogen for green steel made in Duisburg: STEAG and thyssenkrupp are planning joint hydrogen project. (2020).

26 thyssenkrupp. Klimastrategie von thyssenkrupp Steel Premium-Flachstahl, weniger von CO2. thyssenkrupp AG. (2021).

27 ACEA. Fuel types of new cars: battery electric 9.1%, hybrid 19.6% and petrol 40.0% market share full-year 2021. ACEA. (2022).

28 ACEA. Interactive map – CO2 emissions from new passenger cars in the EU, by country. ACEA. (2021).

29 Climate Analytics. Coal Phase Out Germany / Climate Analytics. (2020).

30 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, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available, thus we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

31 Benchmarks here provided are derived from the illustrative pathway CEMICS-1.5-CDR8_REMIND_1.7 (28 MtCO₂e) and the 25th percentile (47 MtCO₂e) of the analysis 1.5°C compatible pathways in this analysis, assessed by the IPCC SR1.5. See methodology section for more information.

32 Confirming previous analysis indicating that: “Germany needs to phase coal out of its electricity sector by 2030 to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement. This is earlier than the dates discussed so far by the Coal Commission, a body established to come up with a coal exit plan by the end of 2018.”29

33 According to the Carbon Contracts for Difference, investor in low carbon technology (e.g. low carbon steel) receives subsidy that amounts to the different between the cost of producing traditional product and the low carbon alternative. This amount is reduced by what the investor would have to pay in carbon price anyway, e.g. in the framework of the EU ETS.

34 Calculations based on new data from Umweltbundesamt (UBA): www.umweltbundesamt.de/themen/klima-energie/treibhausgas-emissionen.

35 This goal reflects the 55% emissions reduction goal. The new goal for the share of renewables is not yet clear.

Germanyʼs energy mix in the buildings sector

petajoule per year

Scaling
SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20192030204020502 0003 0004 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20192030204020502 0003 0004 000
Low Energy Demand
20192030204020502 0003 0004 000
High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
20192030204020502 0003 0004 000
  • Coal
  • Natural gas
  • Oil and e-fuels
  • Biomass
  • Biofuel
  • Biogas
  • Electricity
  • Heat
  • Hydrogen

Germanyʼs buildings sector direct CO₂ emissions (of energy demands)

MtCO₂/yr

Unit
5010015020019902010203020502070
  • Historical emissions
  • SSP1 High CDR reliance
  • High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
  • SSP1 Low CDR reliance
  • Low Energy Demand

1.5°C compatible buildings sector benchmarks

Direct CO₂ emissions and direct electrification rates from illustrative 1.5°C pathways for Germany

Indicator
2019
2030
2040
2050
Decarbonised buildings sector by
Direct CO₂ emissions
MtCO₂/yr
121
49 to 56
12 to 20
3 to 6
2039 to 2050
Relative to reference year in %
−60 to −54%
−90 to −84%
−98 to −95%
Indicator
2019
2030
2040
2050
Share of electricity
Percent
27
45 to 47
60 to 63
66 to 79
Share of heat
Percent
7
6 to 10
12 to 14
15 to 19
Share of hydrogen
Percent
0
0 to 5
0 to 19
0 to 20

Footnotes