Column: Germany’s energy transition requires faster CO2 reductions in automotive and industry

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Cars and trucks are stuck in a traffic jam on the A9 motorway in the morning north of Munich February 11, 2009. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANY) – BM2E52B13KY01

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LITTLETON, Colorado, September 19 (Reuters) – Two major pillars of Germany’s economy – its massive auto market and manufacturing sector – are clearly lagging behind in reducing emissions and must accelerate their decarbonisation if Germany is to hold its own its energy transition commitments.

The German economy has been one of the hardest hit by the fallout from the Russian-Ukrainian war, which has driven up electricity prices across Europe and prompted members of the European Union to cut their purchases of Russian energy products.

Germany is also a highly influential industrial and political leader in Europe, capable of deploying both the technical insight to enable the energy transition and the political clout to set – and achieve – bold climate ambitions.

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Yet little of this leadership weight has emerged of late as German industry and households – the main consumers of Russian natural gas – grapple with the near-term impact of rising fuel costs. energy and the long-term implications of an unraveling of the German economy from an important commercial market. partner.

But the crisis between Ukraine and Russia has also underscored how the energy transition away from fossil fuels can increase Germany‘s energy security by reducing reliance on a single supplier.

The problem is that this transition is much easier said than done, especially for an economy driven primarily by manufacturers who, in turn, are heavily reliant on cheap energy.

UNEQUAL EMISSIONS REDUCTION

Germany’s total carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reductions over the past decade have exceeded those of wider Europe, giving the impression that the country as a whole is engaged in an aggressive campaign to reduce carbon dioxide. pollution to fulfill its national commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Emissions data from the German Federal Environment Agency (Umwelt Bundesamt) shows that national CO2 emissions fell by 157.7 million tonnes, or 18.9%, between 2010 and 2021.

This is similar to the 154.02 million tonnes (19.2%) of reductions estimated in BP’s latest global energy statistical review over the same period, and puts Germany in second place among CO2 reducers. of Europe in tonnage behind the United Kingdom.

But a closer look at Germany’s emissions by source reveals that energy companies and households have done the heavy lifting in terms of reducing emissions since 2010, while manufacturers and road traffic have barely budged. needle on CO2 emissions.

CO2 emissions in Germany by sector

Indeed, the energy sector alone accounts for 117 million tonnes, or 74%, of total CO2 reductions since 2010, while households account for an additional 14% of the reduction (22.1 million tonnes).

On the other hand, CO2 emissions from road traffic have been reduced by only 3.5 million tonnes since 2010, while CO2 emissions by industry have only decreased by 2.9 million tonnes.

Share of Germany’s CO2 emissions by sector

These meager CO2 reductions by industry and on German roads may suggest that these sectors have been carrying on business as usual while the country’s energy industry has urgently dismantled obsolete coal-fired power plants, deployed sources of renewable energy and increased the efficiency of household heating and cooling.

But the slow pace of industry emissions reductions also suggests opportunities for rapid progress, particularly in response to the supply shock since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Manufacturers and heavy industry across Germany have made aggressive investments in greener and cheaper energy sources this year as they try to fill Russia’s supply gap, while the government central pledged more than $200 billion to help fund industrial transformation. Read more

Lawmakers have also accelerated power sector reforms to spur additional renewable energy generation, particularly in the north of the country. Read more

The outlook for the German car fleet – and its associated emissions – is less optimistic.

The country plans to scrap subsidies for electric vehicle purchases from next year, as they were no longer deemed necessary by the increasingly cash-strapped government. Read more

Meanwhile, automakers remain hugely dependent on fossil fuels for power, and so may be forced to slow production of electric and traditional vehicles amid the lingering energy crisis, despite continued strong demand for cleaner cars. Read more

Yet there is a clear dynamic behind the production and consumption of green energy throughout Germany that will inevitably accelerate the decarbonisation of all businesses.

This will allow the country to boast of sectoral participation in reducing emissions, driven as much by the sectors that fuel the economy as by those that supply energy to it – and will be a more apt reflection of the stature of the economy. Germany as a global industrial and political actor. Titan.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author, columnist for Reuters.

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Editing by Christian Schmollinger

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of Reuters News, which is committed to integrity, independence and non-partisanship by principles of trust.

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