Germany fails to back EU net zero climate target

Documents show the German government resisting calls for a 2050 decarbonisation plan in line with the Paris Agreement

Once a climate leader, Germany's position has quietly shifted on this issue. Photo: Michele Tantussi / Getty Images

The German government has refused to back a call for an EU-wide net zero emissions target by 2050, according to leaked documents seen by Unearthed.

Ahead of this week’s EU summit, France and much of western and northern Europe laid out their support for legislating a target that would require member states to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as was recommended in the UN’s landmark 1.5C report last year.

But Germany’s position – though it reiterates commitment to the Paris Agreement and calls for ‘striving for climate neutrality’ – fails to support the target.

The move follows the German coal commission’s recommendation that the country end its use of coal by 2038, years later than adherence to the most ambitious global climate goal would require.

The largely coal-fired countries of Eastern Europe – Poland, Hungary, Czechia – go one step further in their positions, removing all reference to net zero.

Net zero will be discussed at the summit but any agreement will not be reached until June at the earliest. The target it unlikely to be adopted without the support of Germany.

Brick Medlak, climate analyst at environmental think-tank E3G, told Unearthed: “This behaviour once again shows Germany’s ambivalence in climate policy. Big announcements at home after the FridaysforFuture protests are followed by petty policies at the EU level.

“Germany threatens to completely lose its credibility as a leader in climate policy if it continues to side with the brakemen from Eastern Europe. Rather, it must side with France and the other progressive states.”