After a significant increase throughout the 1990s, emissions from transport in Germany started declining in 2000, but increased again after 2009. After a significant decrease by 11% in 2020 – mostly due to pandemic and recession, emissions increased by 1% in 2021.
The accelerating electrification of transport in recent years provides an explanation for the slow emissions increase despite economic recovery: in 2021 over 26% of new vehicles sold in Germany were electrically chargeable (either hybrid or fully electric). This share increased to almost 34% in the last quarter of that year. However, emissions intensity of German car fleet is still relatively high, at 113 gCO₂/km compared to the EU’s average at 108 gCO₂/km, mostly due to the level of combustion engine vehicles still on the market.
1.5°C compatible scenarios indicate that electrification of transport could be the main driver of the sector’s decarbonisation. By 2030 the share of electric vehicles could increase to up to 44% and 75% by 2050. Some of the scenarios assume limited contribution from hydrogen and biofuels, but especially the latter comes with the challenge of competing with food production and potentially higher emissions from the LULUCF sector in Germany and beyond.
In addition to promoting low carbon vehicles, Germany could also look into opportunities to reduce the need for car ownership by development of alternatives, such as public transport and local railway connections.
Compatibility with the 1.5°C scenarios requires a full decarbonisation of the transport sector by between 2048 and 2052.