What the new climate law gives in detail | Free press

Berlin (dpa) – Just under two weeks have passed since the federal constitutional court decision, now the new improved climate protection law must be passed by the federal cabinet.

The details were fought to the last. This concerns stronger climate protection in 2030 and new requirements that the individual economic sectors – from the energy sector to the transport sector – must meet. An overview.


For the first time, Germany has set itself the national target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2045 compared to 1990 levels. Until then, only as many climate-damaging gases may be emitted as can be neutralized again. To date, emissions have decreased by 40 percent. The new law stipulates that they will decrease by at least 65 percent by 2030 compared to 1990. All this is intended to meet the German contribution of the Paris climate protection agreement. In 2015, the international community committed to keeping global warming below two degrees, if possible to 1.5 degrees, to avoid devastating consequences for the climate and the environment.


The new draft climate law also provides for changed emission levels for six sectors. The energy sector, industry, buildings, transport, agriculture and the waste sector must therefore gradually reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gases – even more than before. Annual emissions from 2023 to 2030 are being redefined. The challenge for the energy sector is particularly great: compared to the previous climate law, it will have to do without 67 million tons of CO2 equivalents by 2030 – this is the unit in which the greenhouse gases are converted. Where 175 million tons were previously allowed in the energy sector before 2030, this is only 108 million tons according to the new plans. Traffic should also save another 10 million tons of greenhouse gases by the end of the decade. By 2030, Germany would have a total emission quota of 5.465 billion tons of greenhouse gases in all sectors. Far too much, say climate activists. For example, the activists of Fridays for Future argue that the amount of greenhouse gases that may still be limited to approximately 4.1 billion tons.


So far there is no precise timetable for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the period between 2031 and 2040. That was one of the main criticisms of the Federal Constitutional Court. Nearly two weeks ago, the judges warned that the time after 2030 must also be regulated by law. The current plan provides annual percentage targets up to 2040. By 2035, greenhouse gases should be reduced by 77 percent and by 88 percent by 2040. Climate activists would like to see a 70 percent reduction as early as 2030. By law, this should not be achieved until 2032.


The sector goals alone are not enough to make Germany 100 percent greenhouse gas neutral by 2045. The new law states that too. Natural ecosystems such as forests or heathlands should yield the remaining three percentage points. This point is new in the law, as is the obligation to make these ecosystems particularly suitable for it. Because only if they are intact can they bind enough CO2 from the atmosphere. In this way, 25 million tons of greenhouse gases must be bound annually by 2030. In comparison, in 2018, natural ecosystems bound 18 million tons of greenhouse gases. Environmental organizations fear that the calculation with the natural buffer will not work because of the destruction of forests.


The Climate Protection Act does not include specific measures to achieve the climate targets. Possible instruments to reduce emissions are a higher CO2 price on fossil fuels, an early phase out of coal and a faster expansion of wind and solar energy. These measures are discussed in parallel. However, important decisions could only be taken in the next parliamentary term.


The German climate law is designed in such a way that it can be adjusted again if the targets are not sufficient to meet EU requirements. At the end of last year, the EU set itself the target of achieving 55 percent emission reductions by 2030, instead of 40 percent. This also results in new targets for the individual Member States, including Germany. The EU wants to present the new requirements in mid-July. The amended German climate law provides for a revision of the national targets within six months of the announcement of the EU framework.

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