Sunday, May 9, 2021

Germany raises climate ambition at Petersburg Dialogue in leadup to COP26

German Finance minister Olaf Scholz and environment minister Svenja Schulze announced new proposed climate targets to press in Berlin on Tuesday 3 May 2021:
  • 65% emissions reduction by 2030,
  • 85-90% by 2040 and
  • net zero emissions by 2045, all compared to 1990 levels.
Previous German goals were 55% by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.
Constitutional Court ruling

It comes in the wake of a landmark constitutional court case (Court press release), which found that Germany’s climate policies violated the freedoms of young people.
Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change commented on the court ruling:
"The ruling is important because it strengthens the rights of future generations to a safe environment and obligates policymakers to a long-term commitment. It confirms in legal terms what research has been saying for quite some time: first, greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels threaten our children's rights, their freedom and security. Second, we must not postpone the transition to clean energy into the future, but start quickly and then keep on going permanently. And third, we need concrete measures instead of ever more ambitious targets that eventually are not met. Economically speaking, it will also be more expensive the longer we wait."
According to a Germanwatch press release the following comments were made on the court ruling:
Lawyer Dr. Roda Verheyen (Hamburg), who represents the young people, comments on the decision: "Today, the Federal Constitutional Court has set a globally remarkable new standard for climate protection as a human right. It has recognised the extreme climate crisis and interpreted fundamental rights in a way that is just for present and future generations. Legislators now have a mandate to define a coherent reduction path to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality. Waiting and delaying radical emission reductions until later is  unconstitutional. Climate action today must ensure that there is still room for future generations."

Sophie Backsen, one of the young complainants, is already experiencing the consequences of the climate crisis on her home island of Pellworm: "The Court's decision is a huge success for us young people who are already affected by the climate crisis - I am very happy! It has become clear that essential parts of the Federal Climate Protection Act are not compatible with our fundamental rights. Effective climate protection must start and be implemented now - not in ten years. This is the only way to secure my future on my home island. The decision gives me a tailwind to keep fighting. "

Luisa Neubauer from Fridays for Future is also a complainant: "Climate protection is not nice-to-have,  fair climate protection is a fundamental right, that is now official. A huge success - for everyone and especially for us young people who have been on climate strike for their future for over two years. We will now continue to fight for a 1.5 degree policy that is fair to all generations."
If adopted by the cabinet, Germany would have the second deepest 2030 emissions reduction target of any major emitter, compared to 1990 levels, after the UK. It would be the biggest economy to match Sweden’s 2045 net zero ambition.

This is in the context of an upcoming election in which Angela Merkel’s centre-conservative Christian Democratic Union party is polling very badly, and in which a Green Party Chancellor is not out of the question with the Greens showing in some polls as the leading party.

Victoria's targets in Comparison
In Comparison, Victoria's interim emissions reduction targets announced last week were:
  • 28-33 per cent by 2025
  • 45-50 per cent by 2030.
  • Net zero by 2050, all compared to 2005 baseline
All Australian states and Territories have a commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The Federal Government has set no commitment for zero emissions by 2050 but Prime Minister Morrison in early 2021 said Australia should try get to net-zero “as soon as possible”, and preferably by 2050. The Federal Government is currently funding new fossil fuel gas plants.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has committed to targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels) by: 40% by 2020; 50 to 60% by 2025; 65 to 75% by 2030
Other national jurisdiction targets for 2030:
  • Canada: 40-45% below 2005 levels
  • Japan: 46% below 2013 levels 
  • USA: 50-52% below 2005 levels
  • UK:  68% below 1990 levels (More recently announced 78% by 2035) 
  • Europe: 55% below 1990 levels
  • Sweden: 63% below 1990 levels

While the recent round of ambition and increased targets is welcome, it still leaves a subtantial gap in what needs to be done. Climate Action Tracker say "The emissions gap in 2030 between Paris pledges and targets and pathways compatible with 1.5°C has narrowed by around 11-14% (2.6-3.9 GtCO2e). The largest contributions came from the US, the EU27, China and Japan."


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