For the second year in a row, the carbon footprint of traffic in Germany has deteriorated. It is the only sector that fails to meet its targets – despite sometimes very high fuel prices.
Traffic remains one of the problem children in Germany's climate protection efforts. According to the latest figures from the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Germany, this sector emitted an estimated 148 million tonnes of CO₂ equivalents last year. This means that traffic is not only around 1.1 million tonnes (0.7 percent) above the value for 2021. The value is also around nine tonnes higher than the annual emissions permitted in the Federal Climate Protection Act for 2022 (138.8 million tonnes). .
It is true that the GHG emissions from transport today are well below the level of the last full pre-corona year 2019 (at that time around 164 million tons). Nevertheless, since then there has been an unpleasant trend in this sector, with emissions of CO₂ equivalents increasing by a good one percent every year: from 145 million tons in 2020 to 147 million tons in the following year and now to the 148 million mentioned. To put this into perspective: According to the Federal Climate Protection Act, traffic may only emit 84 million GHG tons in 2030.
CO2 increase despite high fuel prices
The numbers are surprising, after all, fuel costs in 2022 were at a very high level in some cases. However, according to the UBA, the resulting reduction effect was reduced by the "tank discount" effective from June to August, which could not be compensated for by the 9-euro ticket for public transport and regional transport that was offered at the same time. The record number of new electric car registrations would also not have been enough to offset the increase in emissions.
Traffic is the only one of the six sectors that both missed its target and recorded an increase compared to the previous year. It is true that GHG emissions from the energy industry have risen much more sharply (from 245 to 256 million tons; +4.4%) due to the increased use of hard coal and lignite to generate electricity and heat. But this sector at least hits its target from the climate protection law; However, only because he exceeded them in the years 2018 to 2020. If the current trend continues, the energy industry will also be above the targets set by the end of the current year.
Industry and buildings with positive development
Overall, however, Germany's GHG emissions in 2022 developed slightly positively. Output fell from around 760 to 746 million tons. The savings in industry (164 instead of 183 million tons; -10.4%) and in buildings (112 instead of 118 million tons; -5.3%) were particularly large compared to the previous year. In both cases, the UBA sees the sharp rise in energy prices as a result of the war in Ukraine as the driving force behind the development.The use of energy was reduced here and there. In the industrial sector, there is also the fact that some energy-intensive sectors were simply able to produce less due to the lack of parts.
In view of the current development, Dirk Messner says: "In order to achieve the goals of the federal government by 2030, emissions must now be reduced by six percent per year. Since 2010, the average has not even been two percent." The UBA President chose exactly these words when presenting the 2021 figures almost exactly a year ago. Which shows that Germany's GHG emissions form curve is stagnating.
In 2020, the corona pandemic led to a noticeable decrease in CO2 emissions. The climate data from the Federal Environment Agency for the years 2021 and 2022 show that this effect has already fizzled out again. CO2 emissions are increasing again across large areas. In order to achieve the self-imposed climate goals for 2030, the climate efforts must be significantly increased.