Joint press release by the German Environment Agency and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety

Emissions trading: German installations generated 14 percent less CO2 emissions in 2019

EU emissions trading reform showing results

KohlekraftwerkClick to enlarge
Good for the climate: Germany replacing coal-based electricity with more power from wind and sun
Source: Teteline /

The 2019 emissions of the roughly 1,850 stationary installations in Germany recorded in the European Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) amounted to around 363 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq). This is a 14-percent decrease compared to the previous year. The German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt) at the German Environment Agency (UBA) presented these details in its annual report on the greenhouse gas emissions of the stationary installations subject to emissions trading and of the aviation sector in Germany for the year 2019 (VET Report 2019). The decline in emissions is chiefly due to lower emissions in the energy industry. Emissions in the energy-intensive industries also declined for the first time in the course of the third trading period.

Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said: "The successful reform of European emissions trading is proving effective. The steep price hike for CO2 certificates has resulted in a significant decline in emissions. Coal-based electricity is increasingly disappearing from the market, making room for electricity from wind and sun. This shows that we are successful when policy actively shapes the transition to future technologies. It gives us the courage for the great tasks that lie ahead."

UBA President Dirk Messner said: "Current developments in the energy sector show that the reformed emissions trading system fully meets the expectations placed in it as a climate protection instrument. Nevertheless, there is more to be done, in particular in the industrial sector. We need an intelligent decarbonisation strategy. The new European innovation fund is a central component in this strategy because it promotes future innovative, climate-friendly technologies in the industrial sector throughout Europe with auction proceeds from emissions trading."

Energy: In 2019, the emissions of German energy installations decreased by about 18 percent, to 244 million tonnes of CO2eq. This reinforces the downward trend of the previous year (2018: - 4.5 percent). As a result of sharply higher prices in the EU ETS and lower natural gas prices, the operation of gas-fired power stations in 2019 was often more economical than coal-fired power stations. Another driver was the significant increase in renewables' contribution to electricity production and also the fact that more power plant units were put on security standby.

Industry: There was little change in emissions from energy-intensive industries from 2013 to 2018, fluctuating between around 123 and 126 million tonnes of CO2eq. For the first time in the third trading period of the EU-ETS, emissions in 2019 fell significantly by 4 percent to 119 million tonnes of CO2eq, which is below the level of 2013. Emissions were also down in almost all industrial sectors, with the exception of the cement industry, which remained almost unchanged year-on-year. This also roughly reflects the production development in the individual industries.

The relative decline in emissions in the emissions trading sector is greater than the decline in total German greenhouse gas emissions. UBA's March estimate for the previous year shows a decline of some 54 million tonnes of CO2eq (- 6.3%). With the data now available from DEHSt, a preliminary calculation for 2019 can be made of German emissions that are outside the scope of EU ETS. The data indicates that Germany's emissions subject to the European effort sharing procedure exceeded the allocated emission allowances for 2019 by around 21.6 million tonnes CO2eq. Allowances saved up in previous years are unlikely to be sufficient to cover this gap for 2019. Although the Member States are not legally obliged to meet their respective targets on a precise date, they will be able to do so in the future. However, they must prove that they have sufficient emission allocations from the EU effort sharing decision for each year between 2013 and 2020. Unused allocations from earlier years of the period or emission allowances transferred from other Member States can be used for this purpose.

Further information

The German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt) is the national authority entrusted with the implementation of the EU emissions trading scheme. Its mandate includes allocation and issuance of free emission allowances, reviewing emissions reports and monitoring plans, and administration of accounts in the EU emissions trading registry. DEHSt operates auctioning and informs the public and market participants of its results. It is also in charge of the administration of the project-based mechanisms Joint Implementation and Clean Development Mechanism. It also acts as the national licensing authority for the payment of state aid for electricity-intensive companies to compensate for indirect CO2 cost (electricity price compensation). The DEHSt is also responsible for implementing the national emissions trading scheme for fuels due to be launched in 2021.

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