What does the Paris Agreement mean for climate protection in Germany?



Greenpeace_Feb16The long-term global climate goals of the Paris Agreement adopted by nearly 200 countries in December 2015, imply enhanced efforts for greenhouse gas emissions reductions in Germany. The phrasing of the long term goals of the Paris Agreement goes beyond prior political consensus. The objective is to limit the global increase in temperature to “well below 2°C” above pre-industrial levels, “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”, as well as to lower the net GHG emissions to zero in the second half of the century.



Download full report (German)

The aim of this brief analysis is to translate the goals of the international climate regime as determined by the Paris Agreement into the German context. Firstly, emissions reduction scenarios on a sectoral level from existing literature sources are compared. Since the literature on this topic does not cover 1.5°C scenarios for Germany to a sufficient degree, global scenarios and the total CO2 budget available for 1.5°C are taken as a basis. Conclusions are drawn from the comparison of different emissions reduction scenarios.

Key messages

To be compatible with the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement …

  • … global CO2 emissions from energy generation and use as well as from agriculture and forestry will need to decrease to zero by 2035. This way, temperature increase is likely to be kept “well below 2°C” and aiming towards 1.5°C without taking the risk of needing to remove CO2 from the atmosphere at large scale in the future. Simultaneously, a smaller budget of emissions remains for sectors where (according to most models) a reduction of emissions would be exceedingly demanding, as is the case for non-CO2 emissions from agriculture through livestock and soil.
  • … developed countries such as Germany would have to decrease greenhouse gas emissions to zero earlier than the global average, i.e. CO2 emissions before 2035.
  • … the share of renewables in the energy mix (electricity production, building heating and cooling, industry, and transport) should reach 100% in Germany before 2035. electricity sector in Germany. The provision of electricity completely from renewable sources should be reached before 2030. This assumes the agreed phase out of nuclear energy and no use of CCS.
  • … the lignite and hard coal phase-out from electricity production should be achieved by around 2025 in Germany.
  • … avoidance of travel, modal shift and increase in share of cars without combustion engine, e.g. through the development of electric mobility, are necessary beyond current targets in Germany.
  • … 5% of Germany’s existing buildings need to be renovated to nearly zero energy standards per year, in addition to 100% of new stock conforming to nearly zero energy standards.
  • … energy efficiency and electrification in industry have to be enhanced, in addition to research and development.
  • … emissions from agriculture and forestry need to eventually be reduced to nearly zero as well, even if a little later than energy related emissions.


A large part of the CO2 budget available to limit temperature increase to 2°C or 1.5°C is already spent. In order to limit the global average temperature increase to the abovementioned levels, the cumulative emissions over this century are the determining factor. If emissions are too high now, CO2 could theoretically still be removed from the atmosphere at a later point in time. However, the technology that could enable this subsequent removal, i.e. the utilization of biomass in combination with carbon capture and storage (CCS), encompasses significant problems and risks. This brief analysis consequently assumes that the emission budget has to be reached without these “negative emission” technologies.

Read full report here (executive summary in English, full report in German)