German climate law draft calls for net-zero emissions by 2050

The environment ministry is calling to hike the target to 95% and ensure that any remaining emissions are removed

Germany is expected to miss its 2020 climate target amid heavy coal use and high transport emissions (Pic: Flickr/Guy Gorek)

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German environment minister Svenja Schulze is calling for an ambitious goal to cut emissions by “at least 95%” by 2050 and remove the remainder from the atmosphere, in a draft of the highly anticipated Climate Action Law seen by Clean Energy Wire.

The text would hike Germany’s mid-century target to the higher end of its current goal for cutting emissions, compared to 1990 levels. But the additional call for greenhouse gas neutrality means the equivalent of any remaining emissions would need to be absorbed and either stored or used.

It is uncertain whether the draft can become law in its current form. The lawmaking process has only just begun, and parts of chancellor Angela Merkel’s Conservatives have already heavily criticised key elements of the text.

Germany currently aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050, the same as the EU’s overall goal. The European Commission is pushing its members to raise that goal to net-zero.

Merkel said in 2017 that Germany would have to decide an exact target in the current legislative period.

But the proposal is certain to generate heated debate both within the government coalition and in parliament. The Climate Action Law is meant to guarantee that Germany fulfils its national and European climate targets.

The environment ministry draft aims to enshrine into law Germany’s greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020, 2030, 2040 and 2050. It also divvies up these targets between economic sectors (energy, buildings, transport, industry, agriculture, waste and other), as established in Germany’s Climate Action Plan 2050.

The sectoral targets are broken up into annual emissions budgets, and the ministry most responsible for the sector is responsible for making sure they are reached.

If a target is missed, Germany might have to buy emissions allocations from European neighbours, as stipulated in the EU’s effort-sharing regulation on national reduction targets. The costs should be covered by the budgets of the responsible ministries, according to the environment ministry’s draft.

The environment ministry has sent the draft to Merkel’s chancellery for “early coordination”. If the chancellery approves it, the draft will also have to be approved by affected ministries and the parliament.

This article was originally published on Clean Energy Wire.

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