Going, Going…



Here’s another one of those well-intentioned-do-gooder-mandates-from-above-meeting-reality kind of things. Why is it that reality is always popping up its ugly little head all the time, anyway?

The two parties likely to form the next coalition government in Germany have agreed to give up on the country’s climate targets for 2020. The goal was to achieve a 40% reduction in emissions from 1990 levels. In 2016, Germany’s had only reduced emissions by 28% versus the baseline (pdf), so the plan is now unrealistic.

There are two ways to interpret the announcement.

A charitable response would be that the news isn’t a surprise. Although Germany has made heavy investments in renewable energy, it has also been shuttering zero-carbon nuclear power plants since 2011. Giving up on the 2020 climate goals makes sense, especially if the coalition maintains the 2030 target of a 55% emissions reduction versus 1990 levels.

A harsher response would be that the news is devastating. “This damages the credibility of Germany but it also damages the whole international climate process,” Tobias Austrup, an energy expert at Greenpeace told the Financial Times. “Why should other countries stick to their climate goals if we don’t?”