Government Adopts Climate Action and Energy Efficiency Programmes to Reach 2020 CO2 Goal

In an effort to reach Germany’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020, the government has adopted the “Action Programme on Climate Protection 2020″ (Climate Programme 2020). The National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NAPE) is an important element of this action programme and was also approved. Without the various measures contained, including additional CO2 savings of another 22 million tonnes by the German power plant fleet, Germany would miss the target by 5 to 8%, the government said. Climate protection efforts shall triple compared to the last fifteen years.

The Climate Programme 2020 comprises CO2 savings of 62 to 78 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents. Below we have outlined the most important aspects of the programme.

1. National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NAPE) and Related Savings Efforts

  • With 25 to 30 million tonnes of CO2 savings, the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NAPE), drafted by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), contains the highest contributions to CO2 savings. NAPE comprises four main areas in which CO2 emissions shall be reduced:
    • Energy efficiency of buildings:

This is the core element of NAPE. Main areas are as follows:

Starting in 2015 the government wants to spend one billion euros over a period of five year to provide tax reductions for owners of private homes and apartments over a period of ten years. Tax relief has not been finalized yet. The government announced to discuss the matter with the sixteen German states (Länder) with the aim to come to a decision by end of February 2015 (regarding a veto by the Länder concerning similar plans in the past, please see here).

Expansion of the CO2 Building Rehabilitation Programme of the state-owned KfW Development Bank. The bank already promotes energy-efficient building and renovation by giving grants and loans at reduced interest rates. The government wants to increase funding for the KfW programmes by EUR 200 million per year to EUR 2 billion annually. Please note that the press release by the Environment Ministry lists CO2 savings of 1.5 to 4.7 tonnes of CO2 for building, which seem to relate to the CO2 programme by KfW. They come on top of the NAPE savings.

    • Saving energy as a business model and way to obtain higher return on investment than at the capital markets

The government inter alia wants to hold “tenders” rewarding measures that reach the highest energy savings. Besides the government wants to start a pilot project on smart meters called “energy-savings meters” installed in private homes.

    • Expansion of energy consulting to tap energy savings potential and support for energy-efficiency networks
    • Emission Savings in the Transport Sector

A focus lies on promoting electric cars. Commercial customers of electric cars shall receive tax reductions and the Federal Government and the Länder want to increase the number of electric cars in their fleets. Please note that the press release by the Environment Ministry lists CO2 savings of 7 to 10 tonnes of CO2 for the transport sector. They come on top of the NAPE savings.

2. 22 Million CO2 Savings Contribution by Power Plants

  • The German power plant fleet shall contribute to saving CO2 by reducing its emissions by 22 million tonnes. How these savings shall be implemented is all but clear. According to the Environment Ministry, the Energy Ministry will draft a proposal for spreading the 22 million tonnes of savings among all existing power plants. It will be interesting to see how the ministry will word and justify the additional reductions in view of the fact that power plants already fall under the EU ETS (with corresponding CO2 certifcates that allow a given quantity of CO2 emission) and existing national imission control law permits that otherwise cover the operation of the plants.
  • Besides, rectifying the weaknesses of the European Emission Trading System that does not provide sufficient incentives to invest in low carbon technologies was of great importance, the Environment Ministry said.

3. Other Sectors

Other sectors in which CO2 shall be saved are

  • 3 to 7.7 million tonnes in the industrial, commercial, trade, services and waste management sector;
  • 3.6 million tonnes in the agricultural sector;
  • 3 to 4 million tonnes in the public sector;
  • Further savings in sectors which are difficult to quantify like research, education and further training, information on energy savings.

To monitor progress of the Climate Programme the government wants to present an annual climate protection report.

The magazine Die Zeit quotes the chairwoman of the Environment Committee of Parliament, Green party member Bärbel Höhn, as saying with the Climate Programme Germany would definitely miss the climate goal for 2020. The measures were a hodgepodge that had partly been already adopted before.

The Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry (BDEW) criticized that funding of the NAPE measures on energy efficiency was not secured yet and called the measures comprised by NAPE not enough.

Source: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety; BDEW

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