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Germany achieved 2020 climate goal thanks to pandemic, say experts

Germany surpassed its goal for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, but as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and not policy changes, climate experts said.

Svenja Schulze
German Environment Minister, Svenja Schulze

Europe’s largest economy pumped out 42.3 per cent fewer greenhouse gases in 2019 compared to 1990 levels, according to the Berlin-based Agora Energiewende think tank.

The original target, which in fact had been written off long ago, was a 40 per cent reduction.

According to Agora Energiewende’s calculations, German emissions of greenhouse gases – which trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing global temperatures to rise – went down by over 80 million tons to around 722 million tons last year.

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Two-thirds of this fall were attributed to the current pandemic, which has slowed down industry, travel and public life.

Under normal circumstances, the reduction would have been around 25 million tons, or 37.8 per cent compared to 1990, the researchers said.

Energy consumption fell in 2020 as a result of the crisis, they explained.

On top of this, the EU set a relatively high carbon price, making dirtier forms of energy production such as coal more expensive.

The winter has also been fairly mild, leading to lower heating bills, the report said.

In addition, Germany is said to have generated more power from wind energy than coal in 2020 for the first time.

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