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Germany’s CO2 emissions fall to a 70-year low, yet experts warn this trend is unsustainable without major policy changes.

Germany has achieved a significant environmental milestone in 2023, with its carbon dioxide emissions dropping to the lowest levels since the 1950s. However, experts warn that this decline may not be sustainable without substantial changes in climate policies, a new study reveals.

The Berlin-based think tank Agora Energiewende reported that Germany's CO2 emissions last year fell to 673 million tons, marking a 46% decrease from 1990 levels and surpassing the government's 2023 climate goal of 722 million tons. This decline is largely attributed to reduced coal-fired power generation and a downturn in energy-intensive industrial outputs.

Renewable energy's increasing role in Germany's power mix, now accounting for over 50% of domestic production, coupled with a rise in imported electricity, has led to the lowest coal-fired electricity production since the 1960s. This shift has contributed to 44 million tons of CO2 savings.

Despite this progress, the study highlights concerns about the sustainability of these reductions. Germany, which aims to reduce greenhouse emissions by 65% by 2030 compared to 1990, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, faces challenges in maintaining this downward trend without significant policy shifts.

The report underscores that while industry emissions met government targets with a 12% year-on-year fall, reaching 144 million tons, this decrease could be reversed with the sector's recovery. The reduction in industrial output last year was primarily driven by escalating gas prices in Europe, a consequence of transitioning from Russian piped gas to liquefied natural gas imports following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Simon Mueller, the Director of Agora Energiewende, stated, "The consequences of the fossil energy crisis and the slowdown in the economy are particularly evident in the CO2 emissions of energy-intensive industries."

Additionally, the transport and buildings sectors continue to struggle to meet emission targets. Building emissions, mainly from heating, were recorded at 109 million tons last year, falling short of the 101 million tons target. Mueller emphasized the urgency of implementing new legislation aimed at boosting green energy and communal heating to align this sector with 2030 goals.

In transport, CO2 emissions decreased by 2% from 2022 to 145 million tons, missing the target of 133 million tons. The stagnation of electric cars' market share at 20% has been highlighted as a concern, with the study suggesting tax subsidy reforms and public transport expansion as solutions.

The study also noted the impact of a constitutional court ruling last year, which canceled approximately 60 billion euros of unused debt earmarked for climate projects, tightening government financing for future environmental initiatives. Mueller advocates for a "clever mix of instruments" to ensure more effective climate protection for each euro spent from the state treasury.

As Germany confronts these challenges, the path to sustainable CO2 reduction remains complex, requiring a blend of policy innovation, economic adaptation, and public engagement.

Samira is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, but deep inside, her heart is a nomad! She's a state champion debater, a public speaker, a scriptwriter, a theater actress, but most importantly — A GREEN CITIZEN! She thinks of herself as a storyteller who thrives on enjoying the life at fullest and telling everyone the tales of life.

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