European emissions trading: Greenhouse gas emissions in Germany constant overall

DEHSt annual report shows more emissions from coal combustion

Coal-fired power plantClick to enlarge
Emissions from coal-powered plants rose in 2022
Source: blumenkind - Fotolia

In 2022, the approximately 1,730 stationary plants in Germany covered by the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) emitted about 354 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO₂-eq). Total emissions in 2022 thus did not change significantly compared with the previous year (355 million metric tons). In the relevant sectors of energy and industry, the trend was in opposite directions: Emissions from energy plants rose by three percent, while those from industry fell by six percent. This was due to the war against Ukraine and the associated distortions on the energy markets, according to the German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt) at the German Environment Agency.

UBA President Dirk Messner said: “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were significant emissions reductions at German EU ETS plants. This ⁠trend has stopped for the time being. As a consequence of the Russian war of aggression, emissions are stagnating at pre-pandemic levels and we are even observing a renewed increase in coal firing. We must now take decisive countermeasures in this respect and move away from fossil energies. The expansion of renewables needs to pick up speed and we must phase out coal by 2030. The now reformed emissions trading system, with significantly lowered emissions caps from 2024, can provide tangible impetus for this.”

Jürgen Landgrebe, Head of Department V ”Climate Protection, Energy, German Emissions Trading Authority” at the UBA, adds: ”The latest decisions on the reorientation of European climate policy focus on an ambitious reform of emissions trading. This strengthens its role as a key cornerstone of European climate policy. In addition to lowered emission caps, the share of free emission allowances will also decline further in the future. At the same time, the money raised from the auctions creates considerable financial leeway to fairly cushion the social consequences of decarbonisation."

Energy: Emissions from energy supply increased by three per cent to 242 million metric tons of CO 2 -eq, the second year in a row. In the energy sector, natural gas use in electricity production fell due to the sharp increase in gas prices as a result of the Russian war in Ukraine: Despite the highest prices since the introduction of the EU ETS, averaging over 80 euros per emission allowance, many coal-fired power plants were more economical to operate than gas-fired power plants. That is why the use of brown coal and hard coal for electricity production increased significantly compared to 2021.

Industry: Emissions from industry fell by six per cent to 112 million metric tons of CO 2 -eq compared to the previous year because less was produced; this is the lowest level since 2013. Emissions fell significantly in almost all sectors: The largest fall was in the chemical industry (18 per cent), followed by non-ferrous metals (15 per cent). Only emissions from refineries increased by 4 per cent.

Air transport: Emissions from German-administered aircraft operators were about 7.2 million metric tons of CO 2 -eq in 2022. This is an increase of around 55 percent. However, emissions remained below pre-Covid 19 pandemic levels – reaching about three quarters of 2019 emissions.

Germany and Europe:
Emissions from all installations participating in the EU ETS (in the 27 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) also changed only slightly in 2022: According to the European Commission, emissions fell by 1 per cent in 2022 and stood at around 1.32 billion metric tons of CO 2 -eq. The main reasons for this development – analogous to the situation in Germany – were an increase in coal-fired power generation and declines in industrial production. Emissions from electricity generation rose by about 2 per cent, while emissions from industrial plants fell by about 5 per cent. Compared to 2005 – the starting year of the EU ETS – EU ETS emissions across Europe have decreased by about 38 per cent, which is more than in Germany (about 31 per cent). The current emission level is thus 24 percentage points below the newly adopted target for 2030 (minus 62 percent). In the remaining eight years, the reduction rate must therefore increase significantly.

Emissions trading and total emissions: The UBA⁠ forecast from March shows a decrease of over 15 million metric tons of CO 2 -eq or 1.9 percent for overall greenhouse gas emissions compared to the German EU ETS installations.  

Umweltbundesamt Hauptsitz

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau

Die Emissionen sind seit 2005 bis 2020 gesunken, danach wieder leicht angestiegen.
Entwicklung der Emissionen in Deutschland 2005 - 2022
Source: Umweltbundesamt
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 emissions  industry  energy  coal  DEHSt