Who achieved first place in the 2016 goals?

The Climate Protection Plan 2050 - The German long-term climate protection strategy


In November 2016, the federal government passed the Climate Protection Plan 2050. This makes Germany one of the first countries to have drawn up the long-term climate protection strategy required in the Paris Agreement and presented it to the UN. With the Climate Protection Plan 2050, the German federal government has confirmed and further specified its ambitious national climate protection goals.

Germany's long-term goal is to become largely greenhouse gas neutral by 2050. In doing so, the federal government is orienting itself towards the goal of the Paris Agreement of achieving greenhouse gas neutrality worldwide in the second half of this century. In addition, with this goal Germany is living up to its special responsibility as a leading industrial nation and economically strongest member state of the EU.

The medium-term goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Germany by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. In the climate protection plan, the federal government also specifies the climate goal for 2030 in the individual sectors, describes the necessary development paths in the various sectors, and lists the first measures for implementation and establishes a process for monitoring and further developing policies and measures. Germany will do its part to ensure that the global goal of the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius or even to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius is achieved.

The climate protection plan provides orientation for the process of achieving the national climate protection goals in accordance with the Paris Agreement for all fields of action: in energy supply, in the building and transport sector, in industry and economy as well as in agriculture and forestry. The plan also sets emission reduction targets for individual sectors for the year 2030 for the first time and thus provides concrete guidance for strategic decisions in the coming years. In addition, the plan provides for a process for monitoring and public participation. The first program of measures for the climate protection plan is to be presented at the end of 2018 and includes measures to ensure that the targets are achieved by 2030.

Creation of the climate protection plan 2050

The coalition agreement of 2013 stipulated: "In Germany we want to fix the further reduction steps in the light of the European goals and the results of the Paris Climate Protection Conference 2015 up to the target value of 80 to 95 percent in 2050 and back them up with measures in a broad dialogue process (climate protection plan) . "

The dialogue process began in the summer of 2015 and ended in March 2016. The German government drew up the climate protection plan in 2016 on the basis of scientific studies and scenarios as well as in the light of the Paris Agreement and taking into account the proposals from the broad dialogue.

Prior to this, federal states, municipalities, associations and citizens had jointly developed proposals for strategic climate protection measures that would be effective up to 2030. In March 2016, they presented the Federal Environment Minister with the resulting catalog with 97 proposed measures.

Goals and content

The Climate Protection Plan 2050 describes a modernization strategy for the necessary transformation to a low-carbon economy in Germany on three levels:

  1. It contains specific models for the individual fields of action for the year 2050, leaves room for innovations and strives for the highest level of sustainability.
  2. It describes robust transformative paths for all fields of action, illuminates critical path dependencies and depicts interdependencies.
  3. In particular, it underpins the 2030 interim target of at least minus 55 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to the base year 1990 with emission targets for all sectors, specific milestones and strategically designed measures, also taking into account impact and cost analyzes.

When designing the transition to a greenhouse gas-neutral economy and society, the management rules and goals of the federal government's sustainability strategy should also be taken into account. Permanently successful climate protection must go hand in hand with sustainable resource use and resource protection and must not jeopardize the preservation of biodiversity. With a view to the 17 global goals for sustainable development, the focus should be on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by increasing energy efficiency. Social and economic requirements must be taken into account when designing the transformation.

The sector goals in the Climate Action Plan 2050

The Climate Protection Plan 2050 describes the fields of action of the energy sector, industry, buildings, transport, agriculture as well as land use and forestry. In addition, overarching goals and measures are defined.

The restructuring of the energy industry is of central importance. In this sector, important ground has already been set with the energy transition. With the further expansion of renewable energies and the gradual decline in fossil energy supplies, emissions in the sector are to be reduced by 61 to 62 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. One of the measures for this sector is that the Federal Government had set up a "Growth, Structural Change and Regional Development" commission. The commission was set up by the federal government in June 2018 and located at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, with the involvement of other departments. It included representatives from federal states, municipalities, trade unions, affected companies and industries as well as regional actors. For the transformation process to be mastered, realistic perspectives had to be developed for the industries and regions concerned, concepts derived from them and the necessary concrete implementation steps had to be agreed and the financial prerequisites created. The Commission presented its final report in January 2019. It recommended that no more coal should be converted into electricity in Germany by 2038 at the latest, if possible by 2035. The commission also made recommendations on concrete prospects for the coal regions.

In the Climate Action Plan 2050, the Federal Government set target corridors for greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors in 2030 in 2016.

In the industrial sector, the reduction should be 49 to 51 percent by 2030 (compared to 1990). One of the measures for this sector was that the Federal Government, together with industry, will launch a research and development program aimed at reducing climate-affecting industrial process emissions. It should be oriented towards the goal of the transformation towards greenhouse gas neutrality. The option of industrial carbon recycling (CCU) is also taken into account. In addition, energy efficiency measures, such as the use of existing waste heat potential, should contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. Fuels currently account for almost 70 percent of the final energy demand in industry. The amount of heat and thus also waste heat is correspondingly high. In the future, they should be used consistently and strategically, both in industry and in residential areas. All usage options are taken into account, including electricity generation and extraction in local and district heating networks. This is based on existing programs and measures.

In the building sector, there is a "timetable for an almost climate-neutral building stock". Buildings are particularly durable, which is why the course for 2050 must be set here at an early stage. By 2030, the reduction should be 66 to 67 percent (compared to 1990). In order to achieve the goal of an almost climate-neutral building stock by 2050, demanding new building standards, long-term renovation strategies for the building stock and the gradual move away from fossil heating systems are prerequisites. For new buildings, the zero-energy building standard that will apply from 2021 will therefore be gradually developed in order to achieve a new building standard that is almost climate-neutral in the medium term. A new installation of heating systems that use renewable energies efficiently will then be significantly more attractive compared to heating systems with fossil fuels. In order to support the goal, suitable incentives for the use and construction of buildings that generate more energy than is necessary for operation are to be examined in the future. Existing buildings are also to be refurbished by the year 2050 through energy efficiency measures and increased use of renewable energies in such a way that they meet the requirement of an almost climate-neutral building stock. The energetic requirements for existing buildings will therefore be developed gradually until 2030 and in an economical way.

The transport sector should contribute 40 to 42 percent (compared to 1990) to the 2030 climate target. A number of climate protection concepts are intended to identify measures for this. A climate protection concept for road traffic will show how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by 2030. This will take place in the light of the relevant proposals at EU level. The emissions from passenger cars, light and heavy commercial vehicles are included and questions of greenhouse gas emission-free energy supply, the necessary infrastructure and sector coupling (through electromobility) are addressed. In addition, alternative drives, local public transport, rail transport and bicycle and pedestrian traffic, as well as a digitalization strategy, will play an important role in the transport sector.

By 2030, agriculture is to contribute to achieving the target with a reduction of 31 to 34 percent compared to 1990. To this end, nitrous oxide emissions from over-fertilization are to be significantly reduced. In addition, the Federal Government wants to work in Brussels to ensure that EU agricultural subsidies are based on the EU's climate policy decisions. In agriculture, the potential is fundamentally limited. The federal government will work together with the federal states for the full implementation and consistent enforcement of the fertilizer law, in particular the fertilizer ordinance and the planned ordinance on good professional practice for handling nutrients in companies, so that the target value of the German sustainability strategy of 70 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare is achieved between 2028 and 2032.

Emissions of the fields of action included in the target definition

Fields of action1990
(in million tons of CO2-Equivalent to)
(in million tons of CO2-Equivalent to)
(in million tons of CO2-Equivalent to)
(Reduction in percent compared to 1990)
Total1248902543 to 56256 to 55
Energy industry466358175 to 18362 to 61
building20911970 to 7267 to 66
traffic16316095 to 9842 to 40
Industry283181140 to 14351 to 49
Agriculture887258 to 6134 to 31
Partial total1209890538 to 55756 to 54

Source: Federal Environment Ministry (2016). Climate protection plan 2050.

For land use and forestry, which are not included in the assessment of target achievement, the maintenance and improvement of the sink performance - that is, the reduction of emissions through the uptake and storage of CO2 in plants and soils - the forest in the foreground. To this end, the aim is to expand the forest area in Germany. In addition, there is sustainable forest management and the associated use of wood, the preservation of permanent grassland, the protection of bog soils and the climate potential of natural forest development. In addition, the Federal Government is working to ensure that climate protection is given greater consideration in the "Forests" funding area of ​​the joint task "Improvement of the agricultural structure and coastal protection" (GAK).

As part of the overarching measures formulated in the Climate Protection Plan 2050, the Federal Government will examine, among other things, how the tax and levy system can be gradually developed to achieve the climate protection goals by 2050. The federal government will strengthen the economic incentives for those who cause pollution to reduce environmental pollution and to steer it in the direction of sustainable modes of production and consumption. To this end, the climate-damaging incentive effects of various taxes are considered. The effects of any changes on low-income households and on the international competitiveness of the sectors affected are adequately taken into account.

The sector targets were subjected to an impact assessment following the resolution of the Climate Action Plan 2050.

The Federal Climate Protection Act passed in 2019 made the sector targets for 2030 more specific and set annual sectoral emissions budgets.

Monitoring and updating the Climate Protection Plan 2050

The review and updating of the Federal Government's climate protection plan basically follows the five-year cycle of the regular review of the contributions to the Paris Agreement. The regular update of the Climate Action Plan 2050 also serves to implement the mechanism anchored in the Paris Agreement for regularly increasing the ambition of national climate protection policies. The first update of the Climate Action Plan 2050 is expected to take place from 2022 and take into account the increased ambition of the common EU climate target proposed by the EU Commission.

The intermediate goals and milestones, the transformation paths taken and the associated measures are continuously checked with regard to their consistency with the achievement of goals and adjusted if necessary. This enables technical, societal, political, social and economic developments and changes as well as new scientific results to be included. The Climate Protection Plan 2050 was backed up with a specific program of measures in 2019. This program is intended to ensure that the 2030 reduction target is achieved and that the sector budgets set out in the Federal Climate Protection Act are adhered to. The proposed measures were initially considered in terms of possible ecological, social and economic effects. The programs of measures are largely drawn up by the departments responsible for the energy, transport, building, industry, agriculture and waste sectors in coordination with the German Bundestag and with the involvement of social actors, including within the framework of the Climate Protection Action Alliance.

Reviewing and updating the climate protection plan as well as developing and revising programs of measures require scientific analyzes of scenarios as well as effectiveness, costs, consequences and side effects as well as economic and social opportunities and risks. The Climate Protection Science Platform supports the federal government in this task.

The review and updating of the climate protection plan itself will continue to take place in a social discourse process with broad participation by the federal states, municipalities, business, civil society and citizens. The participation processes associated with the Climate Protection Plan 2050 are regularly evaluated and further developed.

Further information on the Climate Action Plan 2050

Participations and dialogues on the Climate Action Plan 2050