Issue: January 2020, The 2020 emissions gap – What are the next targets?


In Focus

Climate targets for 2030 – on the right track?

Buildings – the immovables

What are the climate targets for 2030?

By 2030, the building sector is to reduce its emissions by 66-67% to 70-72 million tonnes of CO2e compared with the 1990 level.

How is this to be achieved?

Key starting points for climate change mitigation in the building sector are, currently, the expansion of support programmes, and carbon pricing. For example, funding programmes to support the renovation of buildings and promote the use of renewable heating systems will be overhauled and additional resources made available; the German Government is also introducing tax relief for renovations. In addition, there are plans to put a price on carbon emissions from heating systems to increase the costs of using fossil fuels, such as heating oil and natural gas.

How is the building sector performing at present?

Overall, the building sector is responsible for around 25% of Germany’s carbon emissions. Numerous properties have already been modernised, but there is too little emphasis on comprehensive renovation of roofs and exterior walls, for example. A major challenge is meeting the remaining energy demand for heating and hot water from renewable sources – at present, there is a lack of strategic planning of the future supply here.

What practical measures are needed now?

The Oeko-Institut’s study for the German Environment Agency (UBA), entitled Climate-neutral building stock 2050, shows that comprehensive building renovation and increased use of renewable energy are needed for effective climate action in the building sector. In the study, which was produced in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), the project team also emphasises that appropriate policy measures are needed if climate change mitigation efforts in the building sector are to have an impact. From the Oeko-Institut’s perspective, it is not enough simply to make funding available for renovation of buildings. Efforts must also be made to ensure that this funding is accessed and deployed for the proper purposes. Ambitious emissions standards for buildings are required, along with mandatory replacement of outdated heating systems. Funding should be limited to renovation schemes that support the long-term goal of a climate-neutral building stock. In addition, carbon must be priced at a level which provides effective incentives for homeowners to carry out renovations.

Furthermore, in its policy paper The role of skilled craft workers in energy transition in the building sector, the Oeko-Institut points out that increasing the refurbishment rate in the building sector is contingent on enough skilled labour being available to carry out the work. As a rough estimate, at least 100,000 additional skilled craft workers are required in the relevant trades, along with programmes to support the entry of the newly skilled into these occupations. As this shows, bold climate action in the building sector also creates jobs.

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Physicist and energy management expert Dr Veit Bürger is Deputy Head of the Oeko-Institut’s Energy and Climate Division (Freiburg), where his research focuses on various aspects of climate change mitigation in the building sector. For example, in addition to developing and assessing policy instruments for the sustainable transformation of the building sector, he works on support mechanisms for increasing the use of renewable energies in heat generation.

Further information about the article
Contact at the Oeko-Institut
Dr. Veit Bürger
Energy & Climate
Office Freiburg
Phone: +49 761 45295-259
Fax: +49 761 45295-288
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