With a package of measures by the federal government, the achievement of climate goals should come closer again. Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck launched a long-awaited program. In addition, the Greens politician presented a reform of the climate protection law demanded by the coalition partner FDP. If targets for CO2 savings in areas such as transport are missed, the entire government should make adjustments in future - and not the responsible departments as before. Environmental groups sharply criticized the reform.
Only on Tuesday did the traffic light coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP agree on significant changes to the controversial heating law. The week-long conflict blocked other projects such as a reform of the climate protection law. Habeck said that all sides had moved with the heating law. As a result, a "capacity to act on climate policy" has been restored, which has been "badly neglected" in the past three or four months.
Habeck: We've made enormous progress
The climate protection program is intended to help reduce a "climate gap" in reducing greenhouse gases. "The goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent by 2030 is within reach for the first time," says Habeck. According to the new projection, around 200 million tons of climate-damaging greenhouse gases will remain by 2030, which still have to be saved. When he became Minister, this gap was still 1100 million tons by 2030. Overall, enormous progress has been made, said Habeck.
When implemented, the measures of the climate protection program could probably close up to 80 percent of the climate gap that the traffic light inherited from the previous coalition of Union and SPD. "We brought the ship back on course," said Habeck. It's all about picking up speed. The program provides for numerous measures, including many that are already known or planned, such as a conversion of the truck toll.
Habeck gave the program to the other departments for approval - as did the reform of the climate protection law. The goals in the law remain unchanged: According to this, Germany must reduce the emission of climate-damaging greenhouse gases by 65 percent by 2030 compared to 1990. The permitted target quantity is then a maximum of 440 million tons of CO2. Binding climate neutrality must then be achieved by 2045. According to the Federal Environment Agency, the reduction is currently around 41 percent.
Cross-sector view over several years
What is new, however, is that compliance with the climate targets is no longer checked retrospectively according to various sectors such as transport, industry or agriculture - but is forward-looking, multi-year and cross-sectoral. In future, the federal government as a whole will decide in which sector and with which measures the permissible total quantity is to be achieved by 2030.
According to the applicable law, the responsible departments must submit immediate programs for improvements if targets are not met in a year. In 2022, the legally prescribed amount of CO2 emissions was exceeded in the transport and building sectors.
The departments that are responsible for missing climate targets still have a "political responsibility," said Habeck. In the past there was a "political reality" that the law was not followed - otherwise there shouldn't be a climate gap.
Finance Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner said the government's ambitions remain high, but the implementation will be market-based. In the future, climate protection can and should be accelerated where efficiency is greatest. "In this way, we can avert unrealistic requirements in sectors such as mobility and buildings, which would have to lead to drastic interventions in people's everyday lives." FDP parliamentary group leader Lukas Köhler said that the new climate protection law would introduce a paradigm shift. The days of small and expensive immediate programs in individual sectors are coming to an end.
Environmental organizations: Significant step backwards
Environmental groups reacted with outrage to the reform that had already been announced. Greenpeace board member Martin Kaiser commented: "While forest fires are raging in Germany and drinking water is threatening to become scarce, the traffic light with this amendment wants to continue to put off climate protection. That would be fatal, especially in traffic, which brings up the rear in climate protection ."
The Nabu spoke of a clear step backwards. President Jörg-Andreas Krüger said that the planned, cross-sectoral view over a period of several years was an excuse for the departments that did not deliver - above all transport and construction. If no ministry intervenes internally, the climate protection law and program could be adopted in the cabinet as early as next week. It should come into force at the turn of the year.
CDU expert: Duty to make immediate adjustments
The CDU Vice-Chairman Andreas Jung also criticized the reform proposed by Habeck. "As climate politicians from different parties, we have long fought for the binding nature of a climate protection law," Jung told the editorial network Germany.
"The core of this is the obligation to take immediate action if the target is missed. This is the only way to prevent a larger climate gap from building up," emphasized Jung, complaining that the Greens and the traffic light partners are now canceling this obligation.