How Germany will Become Climate-Neutral by 2050

Study by the Wuppertal Institute, Prognos and Öko-Institut shows ways to achieve climate-neutrality

Industry process
  • News 22.10.2020

Can Germany reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero net by 2050? Yes, say the authors of the study "Towards a Climate-Neutral Germany," whose results were presented in Berlin today. Prognos, the Öko-Institut and the Wuppertal Institute have examined the question in various scenarios on behalf of the Agora Energiewende, Agora Verkehrswende and Stiftung Klimaneutralität. The result shows that Germany can achieve this goal by 2050.

"With the study 'Towards a Climate-Neutral Germany,' the three institutes are making another important contribution to the urgent social discourse on the possibilities of transforming our energy and economic system and on how adequate contributions to global climate protection can be made", emphasises Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick, Scientific Managing Director of the Wuppertal Institute, and adds: "The study should be looked at in the context of other scenario studies. This is especially true for the study recently presented by the Wuppertal Institute for Fridays for Future Germany 'How Germany can become CO2-neutral by 2035'. Due to their different basic assumptions, both studies complement each other ideally and reflect the range of the current debate on climate protection targets in Germany".

The study "Towards a Climate-Neutral Germany" also shows how Germany can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to a much greater extent than the German government has intended so far. This is necessary so that Germany can make an adequate contribution to the tightening of the European climate protection target, which is currently being discussed at European level. In the study’s main scenario, emissions are reduced by 65 percent by the year 2030 compared to 1990 - ten percentage points more than the current German Climate Protection Law envisages. The additional savings required to achieve this goal will come primarily from the energy industry through an accelerated phase-out of coal and a more rapid expansion of renewable energies, as well as through more rapid transformation in industry. But additional savings will also be achieved in the transport and building sectors.

For the study, the authors spent a total of one year examining and modelling the measures in the energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and waste sectors. The areas of land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) and the efficient production and use of bioenergy were also analysed in detail.
"The study is the first analysis ever that comprehensively analyses all relevant greenhouse gas emitting sectors and presents a concrete way to achieve climate neutrality in Germany by the year 2050," says Prof. Dr. Stefan Lechtenböhmer, head of the Future Energy and Industrial Systems Division at the Wuppertal Institute and co-author of the study. "It goes further than many studies that focus exclusively on CO2 emissions. It also takes into account the often neglected sectors of agriculture, waste and land use, as well as methane and nitrous oxide emissions from the use of biomass and other small emission sources".

When selecting the measures to implement greenhouse gas reduction, the costs were the main consideration. Due to the rapid transformation required in many areas, the questions of technical feasibility and possible market ramp-up were also taken into account. In order to obtain the most resilient scenarios possible, the researchers focused on technologies with the lowest possible technological and economic risks.

The study was commissioned by Agora Energiewende, Agora Verkehrswende and Stiftung Klimaneutralität. The joint press release (German) by Prognos, Öko-Institut and the Wuppertal Institute is available for download.


Printable pictures

Climate-neutral by 2050
Policy measures in the Climate Neutral 2050 scenario (GHG emissions in Mt CO2 eq). Source: Prognos, Öko-Institut, Wuppertal Institut (2020)