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 will continue to go down, not up, because nuclear power will be replaced by renewables.

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 not on track to reach its 2020 target of a 40 percent reduction (compared with 1990), but experts believe that the reason are the lack of progress in electrifying the heat and mobility sectors - coal power has actually decreased between 2010 and 2016. 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.