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Germany achieved a historic drop in CO2 emissions by 2023, the lowest level since the 1950s, according to the latest figures from think tank Agora Energiewende. This decrease is partly due to a sharp reduction in the use of coal.

Why you need to know this

Europe needs to work hard to meet its climate goals. That is why we keep you updated on how European countries’ emissions are doing.

Germany’s CO2 emissions have fallen significantly, with a 46 per cent drop since 1990. That amounts to 673 million tonnes of CO2. This achievement is mainly due to the large role of renewables in the energy mix, said Simon Müller of Agora Energiewende. Renewables reached a share of more than 50 per cent in Germany’s gross electricity consumption for the first time in 2023. Despite this good news, there are still significant challenges in the traffic and construction sectors.

Moreover, according to the Agora study, only 15 per cent of CO2 reductions are attributable to long-term savings, while the vast majority are due to short-term effects, such as the fossil energy crisis and economic downturn.

Comparison with the Netherlands

No figures are yet available on the Netherlands’ total emissions in 2023. But in the third quarter of 2023, greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands fell by 9 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2022, CBS figures show. This decrease was mainly due to a 37 per cent lower CO2 emissions in the electricity sector, where less electricity was generated from coal. So things seem to be moving in the right direction.

However, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture were 6 per cent higher in the third quarter. This is because horticulturists made more use of their natural gas-based combined heat and power (CHP) plants, presumably due to falling natural gas prices.

Next years crucial

Both countries face the challenge of consistently reducing emissions to meet their climate targets. The next few years will be crucial to see whether the positive trends are permanent and to what extent the climate strategies outlined actually lead to the desired results.