More than 80 per cent of the individual energy consumption of households in Germany is used for heating and hot water. Since the majority of installed heating systems still run on fossil fuels, the buildings sector accounts for a substantial share of national greenhouse gas emissions. Last year the sector emitted around 117 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents. The aim of the German Climate Action Plan 2050 is to reduce emissions to 72 million tonnes of CO2 and to make the buildings sector almost climate neutral by 2050. These are quite ambitious goals, considering that the investment cycles for buildings are very long. In its new climate protection programme, the federal government intends to achieve these goals with the help of support programmes, regulation, CO2 pricing, information and advice. The only real novelty about this package is the introduction of an explicit pricing of CO2 emissions that are not regulated under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – a measure that has long been demanded by economists. Unfortunately, the German government’s plans inhibit CO2 pricing from developing its full potential in the short term. This ZEW policy brief provides a critical assessment of the Climate Action Plan with regard to the buildings sector. On the basis of current findings of economic research, the policy brief discusses the disadvantages of funding programmes and regulatory measures, and points out where further research is needed in the future.
Achtnicht, Martin, Robert Germeshausen and Kathrine von Graevenitz (2019), Wärmewende im Gebäudesektor: Lasst den CO2-Preis wirken, ZEW policy brief No. 19-07, Mannheim. Download