Germany’s energy use and emissions likely to rise yet again in 2017

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Higher energy demand triggered by economic growth and colder weather is likely to push up Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions again this year, energy market group AG Energiebilanzen forecast on Friday. A new rise would put Germany’s 2020 climate targets even further out of reach. The forecast coincides with negotiations to form a new coalition government, where emissions reductions are a main sticking point, and with the COP23 climate summit in Bonn.

Germany’s energy consumption will likely rise by slightly more than one percent compared to 2016 to a total of 13,600 petajoules, according to calculations by AG Energiebilanzen. From January until September, energy demand was 1.9 percent higher than in the same period last year, AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB) said in a press release. “Given these forecasts, AG Energiebilanzen expects that national energy-related CO2 emissions will rise slightly in 2017,” AGEB said.

Energy-related emissions equal about 85 percent of Germany’s total greenhouse gas output. They exclude emissions from agriculture, land use and forestry, and certain process-related emissions from industry, among others. In 2016, Germany’s emissions rose by 0.4 percent.

Germany has made climate protection one of its priorities in its Energiewende, a dual shift from fossil fuel and nuclear power to a renewables-based energy system, according to cleanenergywire.org. The share of renewable energy also increased in the first nine months of 2017, which was “mainly due to good wind conditions on- and offshore” and a slightly higher number of sunshine hours, according to AGEB.

Germany’s environment ministry warned in October high emissions from coal-fired power plants and transport will make the country miss its 2020 climate targets by a wider margin than previously anticipated. According to ministry calculations, Germany’s CO2 emissions will only be around 32 percent below 1990 levels in three year’s time, in contrast to the official target of cutting emissions by 40 percent. The ministry said at the time that a failure of this magnitude would constitute a “significant blow to Germany’s climate policy”, and would amount to “a disaster for Germany’s international reputation as a climate leader.

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