A Carbon Cost: Germany’s Energy Transformation
Germany is not on target to meet 2020 emissions targets, due in part to the setback of rapid denuclearization.
- Germany’s national target is to reduce total overall CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 from 1990 levels.
- Denmark managed to cut per capita emissions by 39.7% – the greatest decline by any developed nation.
- Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Merkel ordered the closure of seven of Germany’s nuclear power plants.
1. With a population of 82 million, Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions amounted to 9.6 tons per person in 2015 – a little more than twice the global average of 4.9 tons per person.
2. Germany’s national target is to reduce total overall CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 from 1990 levels. By 2015, however, Germany had only managed a 24% reduction.
3. Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered the immediate closure of seven of Germany’s nuclear power plants (with the remaining 10 to be shut down by 2022).
4. To make up for this lost capacity, Germany planned to increase its wind and solar power-generating capacity.
5. However, in the interim, Germany also increased its reliance on coal for its power needs, resulting in a brief increase in per capita emissions after several years of mostly steady decreases.
6. Overall, they declined eventually by 4.5% from 2010 to 2015 during the post-Fukushima energy transformation.
7. Over the longer period of 2006 to 2015, under Chancellor Merkel’s full tenure to that point, Germany’s annual per capita emissions declined by 7.5%. The EU-28 over that span saw per capita emissions fall by 19.5%.
8. Contrary to the country’s global reputation and its longstanding policy goal to be a leading green economy, Germany experienced the smallest per capita emissions decrease of the 10 largest EU economies.
9. Germany’s northern neighbor Denmark also managed to cut per capita emissions by 39.7% – the greatest decline by any developed nation.
10. Denmark puts special emphasis on energy (and heating) efficiency gains and R&D investment, in addition to shifting toward lower-carbon power production.
Sources: The Globalist Research Center, the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research, Clean Energy Wire, PwC