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How Germany can implement the energy transition by 2050
A well-regarded study conducted by the Federation of German Industries takes stock of climate protection

What is the outlook for climate protection in Germany? How can we achieve the climate goals? The Federation of German Industries (BDI) has released a notable study on this issue.

Germany has undertaken international obligations: by 2050, the EU countries have to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 to 95 per cent compared to 1990 levels. By setting a good example, Germany is expected to lead the way technologically and politically.

This is also the intention of Germany’s government, as well as the Federation of German Industries (BDI): in the study ‘Climate Paths for Germany 2050’ BDI explores how Germany can live up to the expectation of being a role model at the international level.

The authors of the BDI study also identify positive and negative developments in the past. They deem the development of wind power in Germany a positive example of an innovation policy that seizes opportunities. One negative example they point out is photovoltaics, a field where German companies quickly lost their leading position.

Germany cannot be a role model without realistic goals

There is still considerable need for innovation, and this paves the way for German companies to make a name for themselves at the international level. BDI also believes that the internationally agreed minimum target of an 80 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions is technically feasible and economically viable. By contrast, the report states that “95 per cent GHG reduction would push the boundaries of foreseeable technical feasibility and current social acceptance.”

But this is precisely what will determine whether Germany can actually play the role of positive multiplier: “Comprehensive climate protection efforts in Germany will therefore only be successful if they motivate other countries to follow suit. On the other hand, they could become counterproductive if a strong negative impact on the economy discourages other states.”

Ineffective without an international dimension

This would be disastrous, and not only to Germany’s position as a role model. As the authors stress, a reduction of emissions in Germany alone would not have any tangible effect on the world’s climate, regardless of how high it was. Because Germany’s share of global GHG emissions only amounts to about two percent.

Broad international consensus and the ambitious implementation of climate protection measures in the G20 countries would, however, minimise the risk of the energy transition failing at the global level. And this could open up additional sales markets for Germany, thanks to its strong export industry.

Climate protection as a growth market

Regardless of what happens, climate protection will probably increasingly develop into a global growth market in the years ahead. Studies identify an annual world market potential of up to two trillion euros. Viewed in this light, the comprehensive modernisation of all sectors which is described in ‘Climate Paths’ represents more than just a political, social and economic effort, as it also opens up exciting future opportunities for Germany’s position in global competition.

According to the BDI report, Germany could become a leading market for resource-efficient technologies by pursuing a smart policy of innovation. Because in many sectors, the race for global market leadership is far from over. Current developments in German climate protection policy could thus set the course on the road to international success for German companies. And for Germany’s future role in transforming the energy sector. Germany alone cannot save the world’s climate: its most valuable contribution would be to act as a credible role model and technology leader.

Photo credits: © BDI e. V.

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