The EU climate deal
UN climate experts say our future is threatened by rising global temperatures. We are already experiencing more heat waves, forest fires and flooding. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says it is crucial to take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gases.
The European Union aims to reduce CO2 emissions and become carbon neutral by 2050, using the Green Deal as its road map. The German government has already agreed to more ambitious climate targets. By 2030, it aims to cut carbon emissions by 65 percent compared to 1990 levels. As the EU’s largest industrial nation and its biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, Germany could be a trailblazer for the rest of Europe.
The German economy faces massive restructuring. Could Germany soon be carbon neutral? Or are the climate targets just a load of hot air?
The automotive industry signals the challenges of such a transformation. In early 2021, Mercedes was still calling vehicles with gasoline-powered engines the company’s “cash machine.” Models are still being sold that weigh several tonnes and guzzle up more than 10 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers. But is the end of the internal combustion engine drawing near?
Economist Claudia Kemfert says cities need to stop concentrating on individual mobility and instead focus on public transportation and the needs of pedestrians and cyclists. The expert from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) says many vehicles in cities are stationary most of the time, wasting valuable real estate that could be turned into green spaces or playgrounds. She envisions a shift from privately-owned cars to car-sharing services.
Experts agree there’s a lack of infrastructure and investment when it comes to making the transition to environmentally friendly technologies. There are too many regulatory hurdles. Gunnar Groebler, the CEO of German steelmaker Salzgitter, wants to use green hydrogen to make his company climate-friendly and equipped for the future. But he knows it won’t be easy. “There’s a chance we’ll mess it up,” says Groebler.
With the Green Deal, the EU aims to deploy new strategies and fund sustainable investments. Not everyone may be happy about it, but the transformation of the economy is gaining momentum. The plans are on the table, but the problems implementing them are also apparent. “We need to double the pace,” says German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze. “The restructuring affects the whole of society.”