Brief

Climate policy
of the new German Government

Do provisions meet its ambitions?

| 16/02/2022

Introduction

Climate change mitigation was at the core of the German electoral campaign in summer 2021 and one of the decisive election topics for German citizens[1]. After the elections, Social-Democrats (SPD), the Green Party (Bündnis90/DieGrünen) and the Liberals (FDP) started negotiating a coalition to build a government. On 24th of November, the parties presented their coalition agreement with the title “Dare More Progress”[2]. The so-called treaty is a declaration of intent, not a contract in the legal sense of the term[3]. It contains on 177 pages the program of the government for its period of four years in office.

The new government coalition took office in December 2021. Just one month later, on January 11th 2022, Robert Habeck, new German Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Change Mitigation, presented his initial assessment of the status quo in climate change mitigation saying: “We need to triple the yearly emission reductions”[4]. He further announced a climate emergency program with legislative packages for spring and summer 2022 that should provide a basis to reach this tripling of climate efforts. Additionally, the new government is fully committed to support the reform of the EU legislation to meet its objective of reaching climate neutrality by 2050.

For twenty years, Germany has been implementing its “energy turnaround” (Energiewende)[5]. The new coalition is determined to launch what looks like a revolution of the energy system and economy in order to reach climate neutrality by 2045, five years ahead of France or the European Union. This policy brief examines the coalition treaty and first governmental announcements for each sector[6] (electricity, industry, mobility, buildings), and gives an overview of cross-cutting policies (innovation, governance, carbon pricing). It concludes with concrete recommendations on how EU climate policy can reinforce the strengths and compensate for the flaws in the plans of the new German government.

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[1] See the survey in this article or another survey after the election in this article.

[2] The title is a reference to chancellor Willy Brandt, who led the first coalition of SPD and FDP 1969-1974. He ended his first speech as a chancellor saying “Let’s dare more democracy”. The treaty can be found here.

[3] In contrast to this non-binding nature and a respectively rather low public trust in the promises of those documents, two studies (here and here) of Bertelsmann foundation found for the last two German governments that about 80 % of the proposed measures were adopted within their term.

[4] The current climate law obliges the government to reach a 65 % reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 and climate neutrality in 2045. The EU agreed to reduce GHG emissions by 55 % by 2030 and to reach climate neutrality in 2050.

[5] Delair & Pellerin-Carlin (2021):  The German Energy Transition – A Review of 20 Years of Political Decisions. Energy & Climate Policy Brief No 270, September 2021. Jacques Delors Institut: Paris.

[6] Ordered by the relevance of the sectors’ emissions. Cf. Annex 1.


Recommended citation:
Leuser L., Delair M. & Pellerin-Carlin T. 2022. “Climate policy of the new German Government. Do provisions meet its ambitions? “, Policy brief, Jacques Delors Institute, February 16th.

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