Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions rose last year, according to a new report. CO2 levels rose by 4 million tons in 2016 (0.7 percent), which means Berlin will have to reduce those levels by 40 million tons over the next three years in order to meet the country’s 2020 climate targets. As the FT reports, the country’s opposition Green party (who sponsored the study) is blaming an increase in vehicle miles traveled for the emissions increase:
A key reason for the increase was rising emissions in the transport sector, the Greens said. That was backed up by figures from the Federal Environment Agency, which showed carbon dioxide emissions from transport rose by 5.4m tonnes, or 3.4 per cent in 2016 — partly due to an increase in freight traffic, which expanded by 2.8 per cent. […]
The Greens also blamed a pick-up in oil consumption, driven by an expanding economy: German gross domestic product rose 1.9 per cent last year, its fastest pace in five years. They said higher consumption of diesel was also a factor.
Imagine that, Greens inveighing against economic progress. If you need a reminder of how politically toxic and counterproductive environmental dogma can be, look no further than this example.
Of course, there’s another culprit for rising German emissions apart from an expanding economy, and it’s one we’re also not surprised to see the Green Party skip over. Germany’s energiewende has propped up renewables at extraordinary cost to consumers, but it has also shuttered the country’s nuclear reactors. That decision, made largely in response to the 2011 Fukushima disaster, doomed a fleet of zero-emissions baseload power suppliers. And, because solar panels and wind turbines can only supply power when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, those binned reactors had to be replaced by fossil fuels.
And not just any fossil fuels: Germany has been ratcheting up its consumption of domestically produced lignite, a particularly dirty variety of coal. That’s how Berlin managed to simultaneously raise its power prices while also raise its greenhouse gas emissions in the process. It’s hard to argue that Germany is any better off for having implemented the energiewende.
Germany’s director general of energy policy recently told the BBC that Berlin plans to use its impending G20 presidency to push for a carbon tax. The way things are going, that seems almost masochistic.