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Robert Habeck and the emissions budget: Habeck's misunderstanding


Robert Habeck's energy transition fireworks, confusion about a possible German CO2 budget and new negative records: the weekly overview of the climate crisis.

Dear reader,

Robert Habeck had brought diagrams with him for all those who still cannot form a clear idea of ​​the green »transformation«.

Graphics showed how far Germany was lagging behind in reducing greenhouse gases and how the expansion of renewable energies was faltering.

Together with the plans that the first climate minister of the Federal Republic of Germany brought to his press conference, with which he intends to change this situation, a fairly concrete picture emerged of the changes that transformation has in store for the country:

  • The expansion of

    renewable energies

    is being promoted and the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) is being revised.

    Among other things, the

    EEG surcharge

    will be abolished from 2023.

    By 2030, 80 percent of the electricity demand is to be covered by renewable energy sources.

  • Solar energy

    is to be expanded further.

    All suitable roof surfaces should be used.

  • Each federal state should use two percent of its area for the

    expansion of wind energy


    Planning and approval procedures are to be accelerated.

  • The transformation in industry is to be promoted with “


    contracts for difference”.

  • Buildings should be built and renovated to be more energy-efficient.

    To this end, the

    Building Energy

    Act is to be revised.

  • The production of green


    is to be doubled.

What the traffic light has set out to do in the expansion of renewable energies is enormous.

Especially compared to the past few years of standstill.

The broad support for the minister's plans is all the more striking, from environmental NGOs as well as from the chemical industry.

The anxious question remains whether that will be enough

And that despite the fact that many details raise questions: If, for example, the areas for wind turbines are to be significantly expanded, how compatible is that with species protection?

How can local people be convinced of green electricity projects and objections taken seriously if planning and construction are to be certified at the same time?

And how many conflicts are there with federal states such as Bavaria, where the applicable distance rules for wind turbines clearly run counter to Habeck's intentions?

Even if the ambitious plan works, there is still the anxious question – as has almost always been the case in the recent history of climate policy: will this be enough to meet the Paris goals?

To get an answer to this, the calculation of a CO2 budget would help. This gives a guideline for how many tonnes of greenhouse gases the world community can still release into the atmosphere without breaking certain thresholds in temperature development, the 1.5-degree limit, for example. In recent years, however, the federal government has not presented any figures to the public as to what such a calculation would mean broken down to Germany - if it even exists. How much CO2 quota does Germany allow itself from the rest of the world and would that be a fair share given that other countries also have to cause emissions, at least temporarily, and that Germany, historically speaking, is one of the top polluters of the atmosphere? The Merkel government was silent.

Has Robert Habeck committed to an emissions budget?

In the question and answer session after Habeck's statements, journalist Tilo Jung asked whether he had understood the minister correctly.

Does the Green now commit to a final CO2 budget?

Answer Habeck: »Yes, of course«.

After all, the existing emissions pathways – a 65 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 and 88 percent by 2040 – result in a final quantity of greenhouse gases that Germany will still emit.

After all, the percentage values ​​are linked to the fixed starting value of emissions in 1990.

"The rest is mathematics," says the minister.

The German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) had already prepared a report in 2020 on the calculation of a fair German CO2 budget.

Wolfgang Lucht, Head of the Department for Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and member of the Council, prepared the decisive calculations, which the Federal Constitutional Court also called comprehensible and conclusive.

Habeck is right that an emission quantity follows from the path of the government.

The remaining CO2 budget in Germany does not have to be derived from the path, but from the climate goals, says Lucht.

»In a first step, you have to agree on which temperature target you are actually aiming for, 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times, as formulated by the federal government, or rather 1.75 degrees?

Then you have to answer the question of what an appropriate proportion of Germany would be,« says the expert.

The decisive factor for this is the population and thus a fair international distribution.

Because this results in the maximum of what a state can grant itself without international agreements to the contrary.

“Then you can check: If we implement our current climate goals, how many tons will we still emit?

If you exceed your own CO2 limit, you would have to make adjustments.«

"If there were any misunderstandings here, that's now made clear again"

However, Robert Habeck calculated exactly the other way around: he derived the remaining budget for the Federal Republic from Germany’s existing climate targets.

"This turns the equation upside down," says Lucht.

"The federal government would then either have to explain why it believes this budget is fair on a global scale, or admit that there is still a gap in relation to the climate targets."

A query in Habeck's new house reveals: »Minister Habeck has described the reduction path in the Climate Protection Act.

If there were any misunderstandings here, then that has now been clarified once again.« A commitment to a genuine and fair emissions budget calculation by the federal government is therefore still pending.

If you ask Wolfgang Lucht, it quickly becomes clear what the reason for this could be. Because according to his assessment, Germany would only have around three billion tons of CO2 emissions left if the 1.5-degree limit were to be reached with a 50 percent probability. The emissions of the republic amounted to about 700 million tons of CO₂ - per year.

According to the expert, the current government plans would mean that Germany, with its quite ambitious climate protection path, would approve almost seven billion tons - more than double what would be a fair share for a target of 1.5 degrees.

"At least if you don't rely on a speculative increase in the remaining CO2 budget by relying on significant additional measures abroad or subsequent massive removal of CO2 from the atmosphere," says Lucht.

Accepting a low emissions budget would require even faster decarbonization.

That might be a bit of a transformation all at once.

Also for a Robert Habeck.

If you like, we will inform you once a week about the most important things about the climate crisis - stories, research results and the latest developments on the biggest issue of our time.

You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

The topics of the week

Habeck and climate protection: Minister for boundless self-confidence

Robert Habeck is faced with a "gigantic task": to make the economy climate-neutral.

Almost impossible to do that.

The Green Minister wants to show how much he wants it anyway.

The climate ministry's »opening balance sheet«: »We wasted an incredible amount of time«

Federal Minister Robert Habeck has presented measures that are intended to put Germany on the path to climate neutrality.

The climate expert Viviane Raddatz explains why that is good – at least as a start.

Habeck's climate plans and the dispute over the social question: How red is this traffic light?

Economics Minister Habeck has ambitious climate plans - the coalition partner SPD misses the social balance.

What about those who can't afford the exorbitant energy bills?

Wissing relies on electric cars: e-fuels – the dream is over

Artificial fuels should save cars with combustion engines, the FDP demanded in the election campaign.

But Minister of Transport Wissing is now shattering the hopes of some motorists.

Many facts speak against e-fuels anyway.

The Ahr Valley Files: Who is to blame for the deaths of 134 people?

Helpless mayors, overwhelmed firefighters, chaos in the authorities: half a year after the flood, investigation files paint a shocking picture of crisis management in the flood disaster.

Energy transition: “Germany must not become the bad bank of old technology”

Tens of thousands of jobs are at stake in traditional industries.

IG Metall boss Jörg Hofmann fears that new products will be outsourced to low-wage countries - and German engineers will be left behind.

Costs of the climate crisis: extreme rain threatens jobs in industrialized countries

Extreme rainfall in a short period of time paralyzes factories and supply chains.

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research warns that this will lead to lower economic growth.

Climate crisis: Another record for global warming of the oceans

The oceans are absorbing more and more heat from the atmosphere.

Researchers from the USA and China report: The stored energy rose to a record value in 2021 - for the sixth time in a row.

Consequences of climate change: thawing permafrost threatens the supply of natural gas

Due to climate change, more and more ground that was permanently frozen is thawing.

This changes the structure of the soil, can destroy houses and roads - and also endangers the German energy supply.

Climate crisis: The past seven years were the hottest

Overall, 2021 did not bring a heat record.

But there have been a number of worrying highs and destructive extreme weather events.

The EU service Copernicus speaks of a "brutal memory".

Stay Confident

Yours, Kurt Stukenberg

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-01-14

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