Germany’s Ineffective Green Unilateralism
Climate change is a serious problem for humanity, but ambitious unilateral action by governments is self-defeating and will achieve little. Without binding international agreements, Germany and the European Union risk becoming global guinea pigs whose fate will deter others from emulating them.
MUNICH – Germany already has one of the world’s most ambitious climate programs. Now the country wants to become the global leader in terms of climate goals. But this strategy will not be able to slow down climate change.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government recently signaled its intent by presenting a draft law to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 65% by 2030 and by 88% by 2040, relative to their level in 1990 – the reference year of the Paris climate agreement. Under the proposed legislation, Germany plans to become entirely climate-neutral by 2045, five years earlier than previously planned.
The plan is embedded in the European Union’s European Green Deal, which targets a 55% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050, because Germany had always agreed to bear a disproportionate share of Europe’s climate-mitigation efforts in recent years. The government’s decision to enhance its climate targets reflects a sense of responsibility for global environmental stability. This is a sentiment born of the green movement, which originated in Germany almost a half-century ago and is stronger than ever.