Germany, a Climate Loser? Now or never to decide.

A crane is shown against the backdrop of a large open-pit mine. On the right side of the image, black text on yellow highlights reads "Germany a climate loser? Now or never to decide."

Germany, a Climate Loser? Now or never to decide.

Germany is simply not doing enough to tackle the climate crisis.

On Monday, April 17, 2023, Germany’s Expert Council on Climate Change released its review and evaluation of Germany’s emission data – and the results are quite clear in this regard: Germany is not doing enough and the efforts so far are frustrating, insufficient, and unreasonable for a rich Global North country – specifically if we take historic emissions into account. Germany is by far the biggest carbon polluter in Europe (The World Bank, 2020), and ranks at #6 globally.

According to the review, the country’s climate targets have been partially achieved, emissions decreased by 1.9% compared to 2021. However, there are a few things to be aware of:

  • Germany is again failing to reduce emissions in the sectors of transport and buildings
    • Targets were missed for the 3rd time in a row!
  • emissions reductions are partly related to crises, e.g. the war in Ukraine, the energy price crisis, a mild winter, and are not related to ambitious climate measures.

Without these circumstances, emissions would have likely risen. This showcases the apparent evidence of incapacity. A few reduction successes here and there are nothing but hiding behind numbers and failing to face reality: Germany is simply not doing enough to tackle the climate crisis.

The overall problem is and remains:

  • insufficient efforts in high-emission sectors such as building, construction, energy, and transport
  • lack of joint and committed action between the responsible ministries
  • inadequate and missing laws, specifically targeting the economic sector and the rich (yes, you read that right!)
  • no intersectional approach connecting issues, framing the climate crisis as a social crisis, and being aware of power structures

party politics getting in the way of realising what’s at stake!

Practice what you preach before expecting others to follow.

The Federal Foreign Office (run by the Green Party) is currently developing a strategy for Germany’s Climate Foreign Policy. A welcomed and important step – yet, it will prove trivial if Germany is not even able to stick to its own climate laws and targets at home!

To put figures into perspective: Germany’s transport sector alone produces as much CO2 as the whole country of Tanzania (around 9,7 million tons) (Balgaranov, 2023; Worldometer, 2016). So, the government is in no position to lecture so-called Global South countries on their climate policies and efforts, specifically when it comes to mitigation.

CFFP urges the German government to:

  • Align Germany’s Climate Foreign Policy with its efforts at home
  • Think further & outside national borders and measures – all our emissions have consequences, not only on a national level. If we truly want to make it about international solidarity, keeping those in mind who already suffer greatly from the climate crisis is crucial. 
  • Adopt an unapologetically intersectional approach to climate action and gather expertise from climate experts around the world
  • Urge ministries to work closely together on Germany’s national regulations & set ambitious climate targets

According to Section 8 (1) of the Federal Climate Change Act, the responsible ministries (Ministry of Digital and Transport and the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building)  now have three months to present an immediate action programme of how to achieve the pre-set (and now missed) targets.

However, it seems like Chancellor Olaf Scholz has exempted transport minister Volker Wissing from this duty. His Ministry for Digital and Transport apparently does not have to commit to a 3-month immediate action programme – despite missing the climate targets by far (148,5 tons instead of the envisioned 138,8 tons)!

We call on the German government to:

  • request the Minister of Digital and Transport to present an ambitious and actionable immediate action programme
  • reform Germany’s climate law with an intersectional approach
  • first prove success in climate action at home before demanding stronger mitigation efforts from the Global South!

Sheena Anderson is Project Manager at CFFP, leading our work on Climate Justice and Anti-Racism.

Image Source: Wim van’t Einde / Unsplash
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