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Effectiveness of sectoral CO2 targets for achieving climate goals is overestimated

In WirtschaftsWoche, Professor Christian Flachsland explains that without the right political incentives, these targets lack strength. 

In an interview with WirtschaftsWoche from 18 April, Professor of Climate Policy Christian Flachsland comments on the debate around the planned reform of Germany’s Climate Protection Law (Klimaschutzgesetz), which stipulates the end of CO2 targets for individual sectors such as industry, buildings, and transport. Many fear that eliminating these targets weakens climate policy, but Flachsland argues that this debate misses a bigger point, explaining that not only is the impact of these sector targets overestimated, but also that other climate policy measures may be more effective.

Flachsland affirms that climate targets for the individual sectors were not all wrong and bad. However, “we can consider whether there are better ways of raising the level of ambition of climate policy”, he says, as these targets have clearly not led to a change in behaviour. According to the climate expert, political incentives to approve ambitious measures in line with Germany’s climate targets is lacking. 

Flachsland therefore defends more cross-sectoral preparation of policy measures as well as a greater role of the scientific evidence of their effectiveness. Looking at the next probable federal government, Flachsland adds that many CDU members favour a market-based solution such as the CO2 price, which he personally considers the best instrument to achieve climate targets. This could be complemented by targeted sectoral measures, he says.

Read the full interview (in German).

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