The race is on. With the Biden administration in office, the world's largest greenhouse gas emitters – China, the US, and the EU – are now focused on achieving net zero. The dramatic policy shift in the US speaks to the building global momentum. The US now aims to achieve a carbon-free power system by as early as 2035. Indeed, climate policy pervades the US government’s actions with greater stringency than ever before.
The global community is in a race against time to achieve climate neutrality. The extreme weather events that climate scientists predicted years ago are already occurring with alarming frequency, causing economic damage and human suffering on a dramatic scale.
Against this backdrop, the obvious question is whether we can accelerate our climate protection efforts. How can we achieve climate neutrality well before 2050? This study provides the answers. The previous report, “Climate-Neutral Germany 2050”, showed how the zero-carbon target adopted by the German parliament (Bundestag) can be achieved by the middle of the century. This study, by contrast, shows how climate neutrality is possible by as early as 2045.
We follow the basic approach of the original study, charting a realistic path to climate neutrality that respects asset lifetime and investment-cycles while ensuring cost-effectiveness and public acceptance. Our revised timeline for carbon neutrality in the post-2030 period is based on the rapid expansion of the hydrogen economy, a more dynamic electrification of the transport sector, an increased rate of green retrofits for buildings, and a faster transition from
animal- to plant-based proteins.
So can we achieve net-zero emissions before 2050? The answer is an emphatic “yes”. In doing so, Germany could leverage the global dynamics towards climate-neutrality particularly well and position
itself as a lead market and technology provider. Whether we will be climate-neutral as early as 2045 is ultimately a question of our collective political will and our society’s ability to find creative solutions.