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Germany likely to miss 2020 climate targets, no action before elections

London β€” * 2014 action program not enough to reach 40% emissions cut by 2020
* Any additional action postponed to 2018 amid uncertainties
* Energy efficiency, coal share in power mix, transport main areas

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Germany on Wednesday published its second annual 'climate protection report 2016' which projects a likely miss of a self-imposed target of cutting emissions by 40% in 2020 as the additional measures decided two years ago with the 'climate action plan 2020' are not enough yet to reach the target.

However, any decision about additional climate measures were pushed back until 2018 after next year's federal election amid a number of uncertainties.

Environment minister Barbara Hendricks (SPD) said the climate protection measures of the action program were starting to have an impact, reduce energy costs, and create employment, but Germany needed to continue to work hard to reach its self-imposed targets with wide acceptance in society the most important aspect.



According to the latest projections, Germany is on track to cut its emissions by 37.0-40.4% in 2020, up from a 27% cut in 2015 compared with 1990 levels.

Most likely, however, is the lower end of that range, the report said, adding there were still a number of strong uncertainties connected to the projections dating September 2016.

The government, therefore, does not see any scope for additional action before 2018, which is after next September's federal election with media reports highlighting a slightly watered down final version compared with the original draft by the environment ministry.

Based on the projections, the measures in the 2014 action plan have so far only reduced emissions by 47-58 mt of CO2 equivalent, compared with a necessary range of 62-78 mt , the report said.

Overall, the 40% target would translate into a 500 mt CO2-equivalent cut in emissions in 2020.

The environment minister mainly highlighted energy efficiency, coal-fired power generation and the electrification of private transport as areas for improvement over coming years.

The 2020 projections also take into account economic growth forecasts, global fuel price and population developments as well as cross-border electricity flows with Germany on track to replace France as Europe's biggest exporter of power this year mainly due to a sharp decline in CO2-free nuclear power output in France, which has increased demand for fossil-fueled power generation in neighboring countries.

Germany itself also plans to phase out nuclear power by 2023 which remains the government's priority ahead of a potential exit from coal, which remains the mainstay of German power generation despite the massive growth in renewables, already accounting for almost a third of its electricity.

Any action on the coal exit front was also watered down in the "Climate Action Plan 2050" the government passed last month just ahead of the COP22 summit and which outlined the next steps beyond 2020 towards the declared decarbonization 2050 target for Europe's biggest economy.

--Andreas Franke, andreas.franke@spglobal.com
--Edited by Dan Lalor, daniel.lalor@spglobal.com