Indicator: Greenhouse gas emissions

A graph shows the trend in greenhouse gas emissions in Germany, which fell from 1,249 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 1990 to 810 million tonnes in 2019. The results of the previous year's estimate show emissions of 739 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents for 2020. The bars are divided into different sectors. The graph shows all target values up to 2050.Click to enlarge
Emission of greenhouse gases covered by the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Source: German Environment Agency Figure as PDF

Table of Contents

 

At a glance

  • Greenhouse gas emissions in Germany declined by more than 35 % between 1990 and 2019. Data from the previous year's estimate for 2020 show a 40.8% decrease from 1990 levels.
  • Germany aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % by 2020 and by at least 65 % by 2030 compared to 1990 emission levels. Complete greenhouse gas neutrality is to be achieved by 2045.
  • The 2020 target was achieved mainly due to extraordinary factors, but without massive and rapid additional efforts, the other targets will not be met.
  • With the "amended Federal Climate Protection Act" in 2021, the sectoral emission quantities for the year 2030 were significantly reduced and the greenhouse gas neutrality to be achieved was brought forward from the year 2050 to the year 2045. Together with accompanying measures and the "Climate Protection Action Program 2020" and the "Climate Protection Plan 2050," the German government aims to achieve the climate protection targets.
 

Environmental importance

Greenhouse gases are released mainly through the use of fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum. Industrial processes and livestock farming are also relevant emission sources. Rising levels of greenhouse gases warm the earth's atmosphere, leading to climate change. Global warming has diverse negative impacts such as rising sea levels, increased risks of flooding, drought and other extreme weather events.

Thus at the 2015 Climate Summit in Paris the international community agreed to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C when possible and to keep it below 2 °C. This can only be achieved if global greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly reduced.

 

Assessing the development

Greenhouse gas emissions in Germany have fallen since 1990: from 1,249 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 1990 to 810 million tonnes in 2019 – the lowest level since 1990. This amounts to a decline of more than 35 %. The previous year's estimate under the requirements of the Federal Climate Protection Act again shows a sharp decline for 2020, with a reduction of 40.8 % compared to 1990. Excluding the low value in the crisis year 2009, the indicator follows a long-term downward trend. After a period of stagnation, emissions have fallen significantly in 2018 and 2019, mainly due to increased emissions trading certificate prices, low gas prices and the expansion of renewable energies. This trend will continue in 2020, but there are also various extraordinary factors that significantly influence the trend.

At the end of 2015, a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol was agreed with the Paris Convention. The development to date makes it clear that intensive efforts in climate protection are necessary to achieve the targets. The German government has therefore initiated measures in the form of the ‘Climate Action Programme 2020’ (BMUB 2014) and the ‘Climate Action Programme 2030’ (BReg 2019). With the ‘Federal Climate Change Act’, binding annual emission quantities as well as a monitoring and sharpening mechanisms for the individual sectors were agreed upon in order to ensure the greenhouse gas reduction target of "at least 65 %" by 2030.

A current analysis of the Climate ActionProgramme 2030 shows that the gap to the 55 % target will be reduced by its measures, but not completely closed. According to the projection, a GHG reduction of 51 % will be achieved by 2030. A gap of about 70 million tons of CO2 equivalents remains.

 

Methodology

The indicator is based on the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2019. The calculation method is described in the latest inventory report (UBA 2021). Emissions of all greenhouse gases governed by the Kyoto Protocol (e.g. carbon dioxide, methane) are compiled in a standardised format. Since the different gases have different impacts on the climate, their effect is expressed in terms of the effect of carbon dioxide (CO2 equivalents).

More detailed information: ’Treibhausgas-Emissionen in Deutschland’ (in German only).