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Taking Aim at Carbon Emission Targets

Building dpa
Making walls work harder.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The German government launched carbon reduction targets with specific measures for different sectors to meet ambitious goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Facts


    • The E.U. introduced new targets to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent.
    • The “20-20-20” targets aim for a 20% reduction in E.U. greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels; raising the share of E.U. energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20%; and a 20% improvement in the E.U.’s energy efficiency.
    • Germany aims to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared with 1990.
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In Germany, there’s going to be a lot less energy soon. And less can mean  more, according to new government guidelines that spell out how industries can better use the energy that they need to meet ambitious carbon reduction targets.

The proposals and incentives presented today are set by the economics and environment ministries and target the energy, transport, construction and agricultural sectors.

In all, the government aims to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels, in line with the targets set this summer by the European Union.

If no changes are made and people keep consuming energy at the current rate, it will only manage to achieve a reduction of 32 to 35 percent.

Next week the government will present  measures to help hit E.U. targets to representatives from the federal states.

The guidelines are set by the economics and environment ministries and include incentives for increasing the energy efficiency of buildings through renovation, for example. The economics ministry made an extra €4 to €6 billion, or $4.9 to $7.4 billion, available to support the measure.

The government hopes the money will also trigger private sector investments of up to €40 billion. “We want to set the strongest incentive possible for private investment,” said Sigmar Gabriel, economics minister.

One of the main measures planned is a tax incentive for the modern insulation of buildings. People who renovate their homes to reduce their heating and energy consumption will be able to write off 10 percent of the costs over ten years, according to sources close to the government. The incentive would extend for five years and is planned for 2015.

The German government had tried to pass this legislation before, but federal states blocked the move, complaining that the central govenrment was not paying enough to properly fund the incentive program. This time Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr. Gabriel hope to persuade the states’ minister presidents to support the plan with a sweetener in the form of a €200 million boost regional modernization programs, run by the state owned development bank KFW which is owned by the German government.

The government is also calling on electricity providers to reduce the amount of carbon emissions during the production of coal-fired power. The target is to cut 22 million tons of CO2 between 2016 and 2020 in this area.

A reform of emissions trading is also planned ahead of 2020. The government will also extend renewable energy production and continue to develop combined heat and power production, or cogeneration.

People who renovate their homes to reduce their heating and energy consumption will be able to write off 10 percent of the costs over ten years.

The agenda also hits traffic with a dozen measures to cut carbon emissions by 7 to 10 million tons. These include beefing up local public transport systems and the country’s rail freight infrastructure. There will be new support for hybrid utility vehicles and the government will introduce a new tax incentive for electric vehicles used commercially.

The government also hopes that improving alternative drive technology will help cut greenhouse gases further.

The government currently subsidizes renovations to improve the energy efficiency of buildings by €50 million but will raise this sum to support urban projects to modernize buildings. The environment ministry, for example, aims to reduce carbon emissions by between 1.5 and 4.7 tons; no more specific amount was named because the measure is too new for comparative figures to be available.


Climate goalsDPA
Moving beyond hot air, the government’s measures get specific. Source: DPA


A government also seeks to make agriculture sector more efficient.  The sector is currently responsible for 8 percent of Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions. The new measures chiefly involve recasting the law governing fertilizer, and making more space available for organic farming, to slash carbon emissions by 3.6 million tons by 2020.

Germany’s government will next set up climate protection targets in 2016 for 2050; turning up the heat further to cut energy use.


Silke Kersting reports on consumer protection, construction and environmental policy for Handelsblatt. Klaus Stratmann  focuses on energy policy. To contact the authors: and

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