Questions & Answers

How are carbon emissions developing?

In 2013, carbon emissions in Germany rose by around one percent, then fell by almost five percent, before rising again by 0.7 percent in 2015 and 0.9 percent in 2016.

According to the AGEB, the working group consisting of utility and finance experts that collate energy data for the country, the main factors behind the recent increases lie outside the power sector; coal consumption is down. Rather, heat demand was up, and the German population grew by one percent during those years.

To address the heat and transport sectors, which make up roughly four-fifth of German final energy consumption, the German Energiewende would have to truly become an “energy” transition, not just an electricity transition. Only then can German carbon emissions from energy consumption truly be addressed. While most attention continues to be paid to coal power, Germany actually emits more carbon from oil and gas consumption.

In the heat sector, there has been a gradual shift from heating oil and coal to natural gas, which has lower specific carbon emissions, but in the power sector, natural gas is more expensive in Germany as a source of electricity, where coal is still less expensive. A European-wide carbon price from emissions trading was to facilitate the transition from emissions-heavy coal power to more environmentally friendly natural gas, but the carbon price has remained far too low.