Transport and heating tarnish Germany’s emission cuts in 2019

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A sharp drop in coal use put a break on Germany’s CO2 emissions last year and pushed the country “surprisingly” close to its 2020 climate target, writes energy think tank Agora Energiewende in its 2019 review. But a rising CO2 output for transport and heating tarnished Germany’s success in the fight against the climate crisis, and the think tank warned emissions could rise again over the next three years.

Germany recorded a significant decrease in total greenhouse gas emissions last year due to a sharp drop in coal use, but CO2 output in transport and buildings rose, writes energy think tank Agora Energiewende in its 2019 review.

Overall, emissions decreased by more than 50 million tonnes CO₂ equivalents to about 811 million tonnes, which translates into a 35 percent reduction since 1990 and “surprisingly” brings the country within reach of its 2020 target of minus 40 percent, writes Agora. The think tank’s estimate mirrors data from energy research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB) published in December.

Germany had reduced emissions by 30.8 percent by 2018, and the government was heavily criticised in the years before that because a wide miss of the 2020 target seemed inevitable. Even the environment ministry said it only expected a 33 percent reduction without additional emission cuts.

The 2019 decline is exclusively attributable to the electricity sector, where coal use dropped because of a higher price for European Union Emissions Trading System (ETS) allowances and renewable generation increased, according to Agora. The share of renewables in German power consumption thus stood at a record 42.6 percent in 2019.

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