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Climate Change

Published on February 4th, 2016 | by Rob Compton


German Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fell 4.6% In 2014, New Data Shows

February 4th, 2016 by  

Official figures released by Germany’s Federal Environment Agency show that the country’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 4.6 percent in 2014 to the equivalent of 901.9 million metric tons of CO2 in an apparent return to the long-term trend following an uptick in 2013.

image00The greatest reductions were achieved in electricity generation, where emissions fell by the equivalent of 20.9 million tons of CO2 despite continued growth in electricity exports. While the emissions data relates to 2014, further reductions can perhaps be expected in electricity generation in 2015 due to record generation from renewable sources.

However, it’s not all good news as emissions from the agricultural sector rose by 2.2 percent, which the Federal Environment Agency attributes to increased liming and fertilizer use and growth in dairy livestock. 20.8 million tons of reductions have been attributed to the relatively mild weather in 2014, with German households burning less oil and gas for heating.

Perhaps most disappointing, however, is the 2.2 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions from transport. Despite Germany’s remarkable prowess in car production – dodgy emissions software aside – the country is struggling to recreate the momentum it has achieved in renewable electricity in the introduction of electric cars. Officially, the government aims to have 1 million electric vehicles registered by 2020 – a target that is looking increasingly utopian with just 19,000 pure EVs currently registered in the country.

A debate about whether to introduce government subsidies for e-car purchases has been simmering in the country in recent weeks, with proponents regarding the idea as a much-needed kickstarter and detractors arguing that otherwise financially successful businesses should not be given government handouts. Today the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that any decision has been postponed until March after high-level talks with car manufacturers failed to produce an agreement.

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About the Author

has lived in Berlin since 2009. He reports on German industry, renewable energy, and transportation. An environmentalist and an optimist, Rob is always on the lookout for exciting technological developments. You can follow him on Twitter @compton_rl

  • Matt

    So power industry is unchanged since 1997, the yellow bars at the bottom. No wait dark yellow (gold?) is transportation. It was twice energy in 1990 now it is 3 times. For sure time for carbon fee/dividend or massive raise in required kph.

  • heinbloed

    Germany is now the No1 power exporter in Europe:


    8 GW average exports means all lignite in Eastern Germany is working for exports.
    Without the dirty German exports the lights would have gone out in Poland and Czech during this winter.

    8 GW is about the maximum/theoretical atom power capacity of the UK:


    • Matt

      Not that they should but they could do way more that 8GW. They would need transmission to EU, but they could take back all the land given to the royals over the years (1000) and cover them with Nukes and pipe lines to the coast for cooling water. In fact from you link the current nuke is more “The 15 reactor units have a combined capacity approaching 9000 MWe.”

  • heinbloed

    The biggest reduction is now to come.

    Vattenfall – Europe’s/Germany’s largest lignite exploiter and burner – has decided to give up the lignite.
    Instead of selling the entire lot the CEO suggests to close it for good and throw away the keys.
    It can’t be sold anymore he says.
    (in German)

    The machine translates:


    And EdF gives up all new power plants:


    • onesecond

      Wow, danke! This is really good news.

  • JamesWimberley

    Yes. It’s past time for Germany to get serious about electric vehicles. If the “subsidy to Volkswagen” issue has any merit, they could structure the incentive to be revenue-neutral for the carmakers overall: a levy on ICEs refunded to EVs.

  • sault

    German CO2 emissions were the biggest bone of contention when I was dumb enough to continue debating nuclear power supporters. They would cherry pick the increases from 2009 – 2010 or 2012 – 2013 and claim that renewable energy isn’t reducing emissions while ignoring the long-term reduction in emissions since the 1980’s. They blamed the increases on Germany’s decision to shut down their nuclear reactors while ignoring yearly temperature variations and the local price for natural gas that cause coal consumption to vary wildly.

    What I really hated was their disingenuous portrayal of renewable energy’s contribution to Germany’s grid by looking at total energy consumption. The inclusion of transportation energy (which by itself is 5x larger than it needs to be due to the inefficiency of ICE cars) and heating fuel watered down renewable energy’s contribution even though renewables can’t supply these demands at scale currently.

    Don’t be fooled by their tricks, but don’t bother arguing with them either.

    • egriff5514

      They are still doing that in the comments on articles of the UK guardian newspaper just this morning!

      • Jenny Sommer

        It’s always the same people though…about 100 all over the Internet only 😉

    • Haha, know this story all too well… 😀

    • No way

      So you’re happy with the trend and reductions in the energy sector?

      Well.. by the looks of this Germany barely seem set to hit their goal… of no greenhouse gas emissions by 2100.

      It’s painfully slow and the intent to actually do something for real to reduce the emissions seem to be lacking.

      • sault

        Germany has done the most of any developed country to make the transition to renewable energy. This stuff can’t happen overnight. If you have any recommendations on how they can do it quicker, I’m all ears.

        • No way

          Oh, I have lots of ideas. But most of them involves closing down coal plants and coal mines and that is unfortunately off limit in Germany. A good start would be to close down the overcapacity and get rid of the massive amount of exported coal power.
          Another idea is to make sure all the nuclear plants run as long as they possible can. But that is off limit too.

          Not to mention trying to mess with the german auto industry, that’s a big no no.

          They are hardly even remotely close to have done “the most of any developed country to make the transition to renewable energy”. That’s why they are number 18 in the EU 28 for renewable energy, and would even go down a number of spots if we add the EFTA countries to the mix like Norway and Switzerland. And with lots of countries moving faster so they can’t even claim that they are being faster then most when it’s pointed out how low levels of renewable energy they have.

          Even then it’s not about transitioning to renewable energy but to get rid of emissions and fossil fuels, something that they are even worse at.

          What is impressing to is that they still have managed to get a lot of people to believe in their green washing.
          They are not as bad as Poland though, so there are still those that are worse.

          • onesecond

            First of all you can’t force people to keep living next to a potential bomb and piling on nuclear waste.
            Secondly it is kind of dishonest to compare Germany to other countries in Europe who have large hydro resources, that Germany simply doesn’t have.
            Thirdly, the CO2 reduction since 1990 is impressive. Just compare it to other countries, and Germany has done it while phasing out nuclear and with its huge industrial base.
            Fourthly, you are totally right about the transport sector, the German automakers should do a lot more to roll out compelling electric cars.
            Fifthly you are right about the coal. In addition to the nuclear phaseout Germany could already phase out 15 GW of its dirtiest coal and lignite plants without endangering electricity supply security. This would only increase Germany’s record low wholesale power prices by 0,6 cents (there is study comissioned by Greenpeace for that) but the coal lobby that is historically entrenched with CDU/SPD is impeding that.

          • eveee

            Oh, I don’t know. Looks like the transportation sector is about to get a lot cleaner thanks to diesel gate. The German authorities might have looked the other way, but that doesn’t matter. The chickens come home to roost.

          • heinbloed

            So no ideas?

        • Matt

          Transportation is lagging way behind. Raise required kph, and charge heavy if company does not make it. Of course it is a free market so instead don’t require better kpg. Just charge yearly fee, based on kph. Something like <5 (10000euro) 50 (no charge).

      • Waiting to be bribed

        That makes no sense. At 4.6 % /yr drop, even if they didn’t increase the rate of renewables used, they will easily be there.

        • No way

          They have not been remotely close to keep a 4,6% drop per year and there are no indications that they will do that in the future.

          A warm winter and no reduction for a few years can give these kind of sudden drops.

          I’d be happy if they started to prove me wrong though. A good start would be to focus on reducing coal use and close coal mines, but that is not likely to happen in any greater numbers.

          • heinbloed

            “They” is who?

            Most coal usage in Germany is for export – be it in power generation, steel, chemicals and so on….

            Knit your own jumper, raise sheep, egghead. Pick cotton on your own land, remember your fathers never payed … 🙂

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