The goals of the federal government are ambitious: Germany should have achieved greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045. New figures from the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) show progress on the way there, but it seems to be too small.

According to the calculations, fewer greenhouse gases were released in Germany in 2022 than in the previous year – emissions fell slightly by 1.9 percent. Around 746 million tons of greenhouse gases were released, a good 15 million tons less than in 2021. According to the UBA, emissions in Germany have fallen by 40.4 percent since 1990. The figures from the UBA are provisional – definitive figures will not be known until the beginning of next year.

“In order to achieve the federal government’s goals by 2030, emissions must now be reduced by six percent per year,” said UBA President Dirk Messner. “Since 2010, the average has not even been two percent.”

“problem child” transport sector

According to the UBA, greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector were around 1.1 million tonnes (0.7 percent) above the 2021 level and 9 million tonnes above the annual emission level of 138.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents permitted in the Federal Climate Protection Act for 2022. The transport sector is missing its target and is the only one to record an increase in emissions compared to the previous year, explained the UBA.

According to Transport Minister Volker Wissing, the transport sector is on the right track despite missing climate targets. “The drive turnaround has been initiated and it is ramping up more and more,” said the FDP politician to the newspapers of the Funke media group. He pointed to the increasing number of e-cars, the expansion of the charging station infrastructure, subsidy programs for converting diesel buses and the Germany ticket.

UBA President Messner, on the other hand, insisted on a rapid turnaround in traffic, without which the climate goals could not be achieved. “I can no longer understand how subsidies for diesel or air travel continue to be paid,” he says, referring to the transport sector, which he described as a problem child.

Messner offered Wissing to work together. “That’s very important to me,” he said. Environment Minister Steffi Lemke welcomed the proposal and called it “an excellent idea”.

Habeck surprised by figures in the energy sector

According to the UBA, greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector have increased significantly by around 10.7 million tons (4.4 percent) compared to the previous year 2021. The reason for this is the savings in natural gas – instead, the industry increasingly relied on hard coal and lignite. According to the UBA, on the other hand, power generation from renewable energies experienced an upswing. This rose by 9 percent compared to 2021. However, the energy sector could just about meet its annual emissions for 2022 of 257 million tons.

Federal Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck was surprised by the numbers. “In view of the consequences of the Russian war of aggression, I had expected worse figures in the energy sector. After all, we had to connect a lot of old coal-fired power plants to the grid last year,” explained the Green politician in a statement.

Mild weather supported savings in the building sector

According to the calculations, there was positive news in the building sector: In 2022, there was a reduction in emissions of almost six million tons of CO2 equivalents (minus 5.3 percent). According to the UBA, this is mainly due to energy savings due to increased energy prices and mild weather. Nevertheless, the sector exceeds the permitted annual emissions according to the Federal Climate Protection Act. Federal Building Minister Klara Geywitz was pleased with the decline. “We have made a change of direction,” said the SPD politician in a statement.

Environmental organizations complain about a failed climate policy

Environmental groups see the preliminary figures for greenhouse gas emissions for 2022 as evidence of a failed climate policy and are calling on Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) to change course. The managing director of the Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND), Antje von Broock, spoke of a breach of the law by the coalition. Only the reduction in industrial emissions can save the government’s climate targets. Special effects such as a mild winter and the effects of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine improved the balance sheet.

The President of the Nature Conservation Union (Nabu), Jörg-Andreas Krüger, sees Scholz as having a duty. The Minister of Transport is not to be expected to develop serious ambitions for climate protection during his term of office, said Krüger. With a view to Wissing, he asked: “Are we waiting for the end of his term or will Chancellor Scholz finally force the turnaround?”