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 907 million tonnes in 2017. 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 around 28 % between 1990 and 2017.
  • Germany aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % by 2020 and by at least 55 % by 2030 compared to 1990 emission levels. Greenhouse gas neutrality is to be achieved to a high degree by 2050.
  • 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 decreasing since 1990: from 1,251 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 1990 to 907 million tonnes in 2017 – one of the lowest values since 1990. This amounts to a decline of 28 %. Excluding the low value in the crisis year 2009, the indicator follows a long-term downward trend. In recent years, however, the trend has stagnated and has recently risen again slightly. Fluctuations during this period were mainly due to the weather and the economic situation.

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 Plan 2050' (BMUB 2016).

According to the current projection report on the future development of greenhouse gas emissions, the current measures fall well below the 40% target for 2020 (BMUB 2017, in German only). In contrast, the governing parties reaffirmed their intention in the coalition agreement (in German only) of March 2018 to achieve the target as soon as possible.



The indicator is based on the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990 - 2017. The calculation method is described in the latest inventory report (UBA 2019). 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).

For more information see the latest press release no. 03/2019.