Expert Council on Climate Issues presents report on 2022 immediate action programs

Expert Council on Climate Issues presents report on 2022 immediate action programs
August 26, 2022 |

The Expert Council on Climate Issues reports that the immediate action programs for buildings and transport cannot ensure compliance with climate targets. EWI Director Marc Oliver Bettzüge is part of the panel.

In the report prepared in accordance with § 12 of the German Federal Climate Protection Act (KSG), the Expert Council on Climate Issues examines the assumptions underlying the immediate action programs for the buildings and transportation sectors submitted by the relevant federal ministries on July 13, 2022.

The review of the Expert Council follows a three-part scheme, which includes both the review of the reported emission reductions in terms of compliance with the KSG target path, as well as the review of the approach to their calculation and the likelihood of their realization.

Examination of the immediate action program for the building sector

The Expert Council on Climate Issues states that the proposed immediate action program for the building sector would fulfill the condition of an immediate action program according to the Federal Climate Protection Act (§ 8 para. 1 KSG) if the reduction effect of 137 Mt CO2-eq. indicated by the ministries BMWK and BMWSB is realized in combination with a modified reference path, but only in a broad interpretation of this criterion. It is true that, despite the emergency program, overruns of the KSG requirements would continue to occur in the years 2022-2027. However, from 2028 onwards, the ministries show corresponding underruns, so that the cumulative compliance gap between the emissions path and the KSG target path would be balanced by 2030. The in-depth review of the assumptions shows that the realization of the GHG reductions reported by the ministries is only partially likely.

Overall, therefore, the immediate program does not ensure compliance with the KSG targets. Nevertheless, the Expert Council believes that the immediate action program will make a substantial contribution to mitigating emissions in this sector. “In arithmetical terms, the building sector would summarily achieve its emissions target by 2030 if the greenhouse gas reductions indicated by the ministries were achieved in full,” says Hans-Martin Henning, Chairman of the Expert Council on Climate Issues. “However, whether the savings can really be realized to this extent seems questionable according to our review.” In addition, he points to the increasing risk of missing the target if a further increase in the compliance gap between the emissions path and the KSG target path is initially accepted and strong reductions are not to take place until the end of the decade. “This also raises the question for the legislature as to whether this is in line with the intent of the Federal Climate Protection Act.”

Examining the immediate action program for the transport sector

With regard to the proposed immediate action program for the transport sector, the Expert Council on Climate Issues notes that while it has an emissions-reducing effect, it does not meet the requirement for an emergency program under the Federal Climate Protection Act (§ 8(1) KSG). “According to the Ministry of Transport, the immediate action program for the transport sector saves only 14 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions, so that arithmetically there is still a compliance gap of 261 megatons by 2030,” said Brigitte Knopf, deputy chair of the Expert Council.

In this context, the responsible ministry, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs (BMDV), has referred to the federal government’s significantly more comprehensive immediate climate protection program 2022, which has been announced for the near future and on which the Expert Council will then issue a statement in accordance with § 12 (3) of the KSG. The Expert Council on Climate Issues has therefore refrained from an in-depth examination of the assumptions of the immediate action program for the transport sector at this point. “In the transport sector, the overarching immediate climate protection program will have to go considerably beyond the sectoral immediate action program presented,” says Knopf, adding, “Otherwise, the sectoral climate target for 2030 could be missed by a significant margin. This could result in critical challenges also with regard to the European targets.”

Need for clarification with regard to the Federal Climate Protection Act

As already noted in previous reports of the Expert Council, the present application of the Federal Climate Protection Act also revealed open points and questions of interpretation, the clarification or specification of which are of great importance in the view of the Expert Council. These include, in particular, the timing of the involvement of the Expert Council in the review of an immediate action program and the precise subject of the review. The Expert Council asks the German government to provide clarity and legal certainty on these issues in good time before the next review of possible immediate action programs.

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