Expert Council on Climate Issues: 2022 climate targets only partially achieved

Expert Council on Climate Issues: 2022 climate targets only partially achieved
April 17, 2023 |

The Expert Council on Climate Issues has presented its report on the 2022 emissions data. The review of the data confirms a renewed failure to meet targets for transport and buildings. EWI Director Marc Oliver Bettzüge is part of the five-member council.

The Expert Council on Climate Issues presented its report on the previous year‘s emissions data. In the report, which is prepared annually in accordance with the Federal Climate Protection Act (Bundes-Klimaschutzgesetz, KSG), the Expert Council reviews and evaluates the Federal Environment Agency’s calculation of the previous year’s greenhouse gas emissions broken down into seven sectors. In addition to the review, the Expert Council provides an in-depth account of the development of emissions in individual sectors and assesses the key points of the coalition committee’s March 28 amendment to the Federal Climate Protection Act.

Apart from a minor need for correction in the case of emissions from the transport sector, the Expert Council finds no indication that the Federal Environment Agency should have arrived at different results when calculating the previous year’s emissions. For the year 2022, the Federal Environment Agency has changed its data basis to a more model-based method, which is viewed positively by chairman Hans-Martin Henning: „The procedure is now largely in line with that used for official emissions reporting to the United Nations. We welcome this. However, the early timing of the calculation of the previous year’s emissions still harbors high uncertainties, particularly in connection with the greatly changed framework conditions in 2022 as a result of the war in Ukraine.“

Emissions reductions are partly crisis-related and may not be permanent

In 2022, emissions decreased by 1.9% compared to 2021, from 760 to 746 Mt CO2 eq. As in the previous year, the reported emission levels for the transport and building sectors in 2022 were above the yearly targets set in the Federal Climate Protection Act. In the buildings sector, the target was missed the third year in a row. According to Section 8 (1) of the Federal Climate Protection Act, the relevant ministries must now submit an immediate program within three months.

The shortfall in the buildings sector would have been much greater had it not been for various favorable effects on emissions – such as the mild weather and savings from changes in heating behavior. In the transport sector, moreover, the necessary trend reversal has still not been observed, with emissions remaining at a consistently high level.

Emissions in 2022 strongly influenced by energy price crisis

Without the lower-than-expected growth in economic output as a result of the war in Ukraine, greenhouse gas emissions would have been around 9 Mt CO2 eq. higher, according to a rough calculation. „The emissions performance in 2022 was strongly influenced by the energy price crisis. In particular, the significant undershooting of the target in the industrial sector is essentially due to energy price-related production declines in energy-intensive industry and could therefore be of a temporary nature“, Expert Council member Barbara Schlomann classifies the development and continues: „In addition, last year with the knowledge of today and the updated data from the inventory report, an immediate program would also have been necessary for the industrial sector.“

Although the energy sector fell just short of the sector target in 2022, greenhouse gas emissions increased by about 11 Mt CO2 eq. compared to the previous year. „It shows that all sectors are running short of meeting their targets. Incidentally, this also means that there is little scope to balance out between the sectors in such a way that the overall target is achieved in the future“, Barbara Schlomann says.

Cornerstones for possible amendment to the Climate Protection Act harbor risks

Against the backdrop of the challenge of achieving the targets in all the sectors mentioned, the Expert Council also classifies the key points from the coalition committee’s resolution paper on amending the Federal Climate Protection Act. While some of the planned amendments can recognizably and sustainably support the achievement of the climate protection targets from the Federal Climate Protection Act and in part also take up suggestions from the Expert Council, others harbor the risk of weakening the effect of the law.

„The decisive factor is that the emission volume currently specified in the Federal Climate Protection Act may not be exceeded cumulatively over the decade. This budget approach is a central tenet of the law“, emphasizes Vice Chair Brigitte Knopf. „A possible softening of the explicit departmental responsibility as well as the various considerations to change the steering mechanism in the Federal Climate Protection Act increase the risk of future missed targets“, Brigitte Knopf continues, adding, „This is particularly critical against the background of our enormous challenges for achieving the targets for the coming years up to 2030, which were already identified in the two-year report.“

Open questions in the deliberations of the coalition committee

However, due to the many unanswered questions regarding the formulation, a final assessment of the coalition committee’s deliberations is only possible on the basis of the concrete wording of the legal text. The Expert Council makes recommendations on this in its report. The report and the accompanying technical document are available here:

The Expert Council on Climate Issues is an independent panel of five experts from various disciplines. It was appointed in September 2020 and is mandated by § 11 and § 12 of the Federal Climate Protection Act. The council consists of the five members Prof. Dr. Hans-Martin Henning (Chair), Dr. Brigitte Knopf (Vice Chair), Prof. Dr. Marc Oliver Bettzüge, Prof. Dr. Thomas Heimer and Dr. Barbara Schlomann. In addition to other statutory tasks, the Expert Council on Climate Issues reviews the Federal Environment Agency‘s emissions data in accordance with § 12 (1) KSG and submits an assessment of the published data to the German Government and the German Bundestag within one month. Further information at