De-carbonizing Germany: new study suggests how Germany can be carbon-free by 2050

by Antonio Pasolini on October 30, 2009

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Germany as a nation has always been at the forefront of the green movement. True, its carbon emission rate per person is high (9.7 tons per year, according to a recently released list by the International Energy Agency). But it’s definitely a country that takes environmental and renewable energy issues seriously so it is a reference when it comes to the cutting edge of a carbon-free way of life.

With the Copenhagen Summit fast approaching, the scientific community is busy putting together proposals and reports that may influence the decision-making process at the event when a replacement for the Kyoto protocol will be agreed on. One of them is a joint study by WWF Germany, the Institute for Applied Ecology and the Prognos Institute of Futurology, whose authors say Germany can, and should, cut greenhouse emissions by 95% before the year 2050, which is the level specialists believe to be necessary to prevent global temperatures from rising more than two degrees above pre-industrial age levels.

According to a report in, the study is called “Modell Deutschland” (“Model Germany”) and it “outlined three ways forward and stressed that if Germany follows the correct path it can reduce its CO2 emissions by up to 95 percent – as compared to 1990 – without compromising living standards”, which include “industrial, societal and political steps which would lead to a 10.7-ton per capita emissions reduction by 2050”.

“If the CO2 reduction plans are not adapted to the current situation, CO2 reduction will either be impossible or extremely expensive,” FelixMatthes, a contributor to the study from Institute of Applied Ecology, said. He emphasises timeliness and infrastructure. For example, building should be insulated when they are due for renovation. It’s about timeliness: seizing the right moment to reduce emissions.

According to Matthes, renewable energy for electricity, traffic and heating would play a major role in achieving such amazing CO2 reduction levels, coupled with more energy efficient electrical appliances. These measures would eliminate 60 percent of emissions, he says.

“For the remaining third, you have to make changes in industrial processes, farming and waste management. And you have to make sure that forests maintain their ability to absorb CO2.”

Matthes emphasises the role that farming plays in this process, which is a topic we have mentioned a few times here on Energy Refuge. Let’s hope decision-makers consider what the authors of this report have to say. They sound realistic and knowledgeable.

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