It’s Thursday, January 7, and Germany has achieved its 2020 climate targets.

These days, everyone is setting emissions goals — but only a few countries are actually meeting them. Germany, the sixth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, is one of them. According to a new analysis by the Berlin-based think tank Agora Energiewende, Germany has cut its CO2 emissions by more than 40 percent compared to 1990 levels, achieving a goal set by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government back in 2007.

Germany’s emissions dropped by 82 million tons in 2020, marking a 42.3 percent overall drop since 1990 and blowing way past its target. The bad news is that part of that success was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which decimated air travel, pulled millions of cars off the road, and halted much industrial production. Without the pandemic, Agora estimates, the country’s emissions would have dropped by around 38 percent: close, but no cigar.

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Still, some of the trends pushing Germany’s emissions down could last well beyond the pandemic. Coal is in steep decline, and green energy currently meets over 50 percent of the country’s electricity demand. Germany is keeping an eye on the future, as well: A third of its $145 billion COVID-19 recovery plan was earmarked for projects like clean energy and public transportation.

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Zoya Teirstein

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