A reliance on coal for energy and a reluctance to engage in heavy industry have hampered the climate efforts of the world’s sixth largest carbon emitter.
About 44% of German energy production came from renewables in 2020, but a quarter still came from lignite (also known as lignite) and hard coal – dirty energy sources that are nearly obsolete in the Kingdom. -United. The need for coal was not helped by Merkel’s government which approved the phase-out of nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster.
“Emissions from the electricity sector have not increased despite phasing out nuclear, but neither have they decreased,” said Jutta Paulus, a Green MEP. “Nuclear power went out, coal and gas power plants continued to operate, and the gap was closed by renewables. If the nuclear phase-out had been postponed, then we would have seen a much larger decrease, but I’m sure German society would not have agreed to keep nuclear on the grid.
Critics say the Merkel government has sacrificed its climate ambitions to help heavy industries that underpin the German economy, like its auto giants. The reduction in transport emissions has been a major weak point, while a package of 50 billion euros in 2019 to accelerate the country’s progress was deemed insufficient.
“Over the past 15 years, the industry has strongly opposed any kind of climate protection measure,” says Claudia Kemfert, environmental economist at DIW Berlin. “The CDU was under a lot of pressure, that’s for sure. Now is the time for a change and the industry itself is changing its mind. “
Just as Merkel’s CDU has fallen behind on climate goals, the Greens have become a serious force in German politics. After being controlled by the hard-line and radical Fundis, the Greens are now led by the more centrist Realo group and will likely be part of the next coalition government.