EU climate protection policy

Germany’s leadership in the EU climate protection policy

The Kyoto protocol from 2005 obligates industrial nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from 2008 to 2012 by at least 5 percent as compared to the levels of 1990. Some countries and/or state communities strive to exceed this level with their efforts. The European Union promised to reduce the emissions by 8 percent. Germany assumes a major responsibility for the EU reductions in this context. It is no wonder then that our country, with the reduction target of 21 percent almost achieved, is in the lead and far ahead of other countries. The target was even exceeded. By the end of 2009 a reduction over 26 percent has been reached. More recent figures are not available yet.

icon: EU climate protection policy

The European Community already envisaged extensive climate protection measures in 2007 and agreed two key targets under the German presidency:

a) A greenhouse gas reduction of at least 20 percent until 2020. This reduction was to be increased to 30 percent, provided that other industrial nations would commit themselves to comparable emission reductions and provided that economically more advanced development countries would guarantee a contribution adapted to their responsibilities and respective capabilities.

b) A binding target of 20 percent for the share of renewable energies in the energy consumption of the EU until 2020.

As a result of these decisions, the European Commission in January 2008 submitted a concrete and comprehensive action programme – the "Energy and Climate Package” – a few weeks after the contract states conference.

The confirmation of the decisions with regards to the EU’s climate protection targets and the distribution of reduction loads between the member states is a key element of this energy and climate package. Now the EU Commission intends to sharpen the goals.

Particularly high requirements for the German industry

The distribution of the climate target between an emission trade and non-emission trade sector is another critical point. The EU plans to assume responsibility for the emission trade sector and to reduce the emissions in this sector by 21 percent as compared to 2005 until 2020. The new basis year 2005 would particularly discriminate the German industry, which has already provided significant CO2 reduction contributions in the past.

The non-emission trade sectors, which, in Germany, are responsible for around 50 percent of the total emission, are subjected to the member states’ responsibility. These sectors muss achieve an EU-wide emission reduction of 10 percent as compared to the basis year 2005 until 2020. For the non-emission trade sectors, the member states are charged with emission reduction obligations under consideration of their per-capita gross domestic product. Wealthy nations must deliver higher contributions than less developed countries. The margin ranges from +20 percent to -20 percent. Germany has been assigned a reduction target of 14 percent and therefore again is among the leaders.

In turn, the special load put upon Germany by the greenhouse gas emission reduction can be noted as a result. Considering the shortage of emission rights, Germany must actually save one third of carbon dioxide as compared to 1990; a task that can only be completed with substantial efforts.

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First publication: 06.05.2008 Last modified: 04.08.2011