CO2-Neutral by 2035: Key Points of a German Contribution to Maintain the 1.5°C Limit

  • Project no.152277
  • Duration 07/2020 - 10/2020

In the Paris Agreement reached at the end of 2015, the global community agreed to keep the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to make efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100.
The study "CO2-neutral by 2035: key points of a German contribution to maintain the 1.5°C limit" which was prepared for Fridays for Future Germany, is based on the lower limit of 1.5°C. According to estimates by the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this temperature limit will considerably reduce the risks and effects of climate change compared to a stronger warming.

In order to achieve the 1.5 degrees Celsius target with a probability of 50 per cent, the remaining budget of compatible greenhouse gas emissions is strictly limited. According to the German Advisory Council of the Environment, Germany still has a remaining budget of 4.2 Gigatons CO2 from 2020. This target can only be met if both the energy system (power supply, industry, transport and space heating) becomes greenhouse gas neutral by 2035 and the emissions decrease disproportionately in the years immediately ahead.

The present study provides food for thought on the central question of whether and how such drastic changes are possible without creating a consistent scenario for the year 2035. It is based on a meta-analysis of existing climate mitigation scenarios with a target year of 2050, which were used to develop strategies for increasing ambition.
For the sectors of energy, industry, transport and space heating, which are central in this respect, major challenges are posed in order to achieve at least approximate greenhouse gas neutrality by 2035 in these key sectors.

Overall, the analyses suggest that the implementation of a greenhouse gas-neutral energy system by 2035 would be extremely challenging from a technical and economic point of view. It would be basically possible, however, if there is sufficient social will and if comprehensive political measures are consistently designed.