BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s new climate minister said Tuesday that the country faces a “gigantic” task if it wants to achieve its goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring sufficient energy for its energy-hungry industry.
Robert Habeck, a member of the environmentalist Greens, told reporters in Berlin that Germany is on track to halve its emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels — far off the government’s target of 65%.
Pandemic-related effects that allowed Germany to achieve its interim goal of a 40% reduction by 2020 fell away last year, resulting in a renewed rise in emissions for 2021.
One reason for Germany’s rising emissions is the decision to switch off all nuclear power plants by the end of this year, increasing reliance on coal-fired power plants.
The government plans to phase out coal power “ideally” by 2030 as well, filling the gap with less polluting natural gas until enough renewable energy is available to meet the demands of Europe’s biggest economy.
Renewable sources such as solar and wind power currently provide about 43% of Germany’s electricity, but that share needs to almost double to 80% by 2030, Habeck said. He noted that electricity consumption over that period is projected to increase significantly as people switch from combustion engine vehicles to electric cars, and heating homes with oil to electricity-powered heat pumps.
“You can see the task is big, gigantic,” Habeck said, adding that the country would face a “huge political debate” over the measures needed to achieve the goals.
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