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(by Nicola Moscheni)
According to preliminary data from the federal network agency (BNetzA) and the think tank Agora Energiewende, last year was for Germany that of overtaking renewables. Record energy consumption due to the coronavirus pandemic, rising CO2 and lower gas prices, plus a mild winter, led to a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. They fell by around 42 % from 1990 levels, surpassing its original 2020 target. However, think tank Agora Energiewende says this would not have happened without the pandemic and expects emissions to increase in 2021.
Meanwhile, the good news …
Renewable energy production in Germany increased in 2020 and surpassed production from coal, natural gas and oil for the first time, figures from the think tank Agora Energiewende show. The economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic has pushed down overall consumption of coal, oil and gas and was the main driver of a 10% drop in greenhouse gas emissions last year.
According to the data, wind power alone produced more electricity than the country’s lignite and hard coal power plants. Overall, renewables have produced 45% of Germany’s electricity as pandemic-induced declines in consumption and cheaper gas-fired power “heralded the end of coal,” the think tank said.
The collapse of conventional power generation is largely at the expense of coal-fired power generation. According to Agora, it was not competitive at many points during the year due to a combination of lower prices for CO2 quotas, lower electricity demand, lower electricity exports and cost advantages of gas-fired power plants.
Germany reached its climate target thanks to the pandemic
The think tank says total greenhouse gas emissions fell by around 80 million tonnes of CO₂ in 2020. This means the country exceeds its original target by 40%, reducing emissions by around 42% from levels in the 1990. This echoes the first estimates of the energy market research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB) of December 2020.
However, Germany would not have achieved its goal without the pandemic, says Agora, and warns that the situation could also change this year. “Transportation and industry will emit more greenhouse gases again as the economy resumes recovery,” said Patrick Graichen, head of the think tank. “For 2021, we expect more overall emissions. Only a rapid action of climate policy can counter this ”.
The Ministry is not there
The response from Environment Minister Svenja Schulze immediately arrived, saying that the drop in emissions is also the result of climate policy decisions, not just the pandemic. “The milestone of climate action has not fallen out of the sky,” he wrote in a Twitter message. “Emissions fell significantly for the third consecutive year. In addition to the corona effect, this is also due to climate policy (in particular emissions trading, energy transition). It is important here to further increase the pace. “
In fact, 65% of Germany’s total electricity demand will be met by renewable energy within the next decade, according to a revision of the country’s renewable energy law passed by the country’s parliament just before Christmas.
An agreement within the German ruling coalition was reached at the last possible moment after months of wrangling over how high the target should be and how it should be designed. A compromise was found only after all 27 EU governments agreed on a new, more ambitious target of 55% emissions reduction by 2030 earlier this month.
There is therefore talk of compromises. Will the sides of our government also be able to take them now that we are at the decisive stages for green investments? Or will Italy lose the opportunity of the Next Generation Eu, without setting concrete objectives for the future?
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