Questions & Answers

Will the nuclear phase-out not increase Germany's carbon emissions?

It didn’t in 2011, when the nuclear phase-out was put into law and carbon emissions went down even further. And going forward, carbon emissions from the power sector can only go down, not up, because of the ceiling imposed by emissions trading.

Germany overshot its already ambitious Kyoto target for 2012, achieving a 24.7 percent reduction in 2012 – with the goal being just 21 percent by 2012. The country is also on track to reach its 2020 target of a 40 percent reduction. In 2014, emissions fell by 5.5 percent compared with 2013 due to a mild winter as well as increased energy efficiency measures and a growing share in renewable energies. However, resent estimates suggest that Germany is not on track of reaching its 2020 goal of a 40 percent reduction compared with 1990 levels. In 2015, the reduction reached 27 percent. To close this gap, the German government implemented a Climate Action Plan in late 2014. The Paris climate agreement should also occasion more ambitious policies, though none have been formulated yet.

The nuclear phase-out is embedded in a comprehensive, long-term climate strategy following the IPCC’s (the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change) recommendations to reduce emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050. Scenario studies for the German power plant portfolio show that carbon emissions from electricity production will not rise, but, in fact, fall significantly.