Indicator: Greenhouse gas emissions

A graph shows the trend in greenhouse gas emissions in Germany, which fell from 1,251 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 1990 to 906 million tonnes in 2016. 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 fell by around 28 % between 1990 and 2016.
  • Germany aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % by 2020 and by 80 % to 95 % by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.
  • Without massive and rapid efforts the set targets will not be achieved.
  • The Federal Government intends to reach the climate protection targets with the help of the Climate Action Programme 2020 and the Climate Action Plan 2050.

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 where 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 been falling since 1990: from 1,251 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 1990 to 906 million tonnes in 2016 – one of the lowest values since 1990. This amounts to a decline of 28 %. Despite the low value of the crisis year 2009, the indicator follows a long-term downtrend. In recent years, however, the trend has stagnated and rose slightly again. In this period the trend is roughly following the weather and the economic activity.

The Paris Agreement was adopted at the end of 2015 as a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol. Germany is committed to the targets of the Energy Concept 2010 (Federal Government 2010, in German only), which calls for emissions to be reduced to 40 % below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 to 95 % by 2050. The previous development shows clearly that intensive efforts in climate protection are necessary to reach the targets. Therefore, the Federal Government has introduced measures with the Climate Action Programme 2020 and the Climate Action Plan 2050 (BMUB 2014 and 2016).



The indicator is based on the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990 – 2015. The calculation method is described in the latest inventory report (UBA 2017). 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). The indicator value for 2016 is based on a preliminary calculation of the German Environment Agency (UBA 2017).

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