Germany is likely to miss its carbon emissions targets next year and may not reach them until 2024, its climate change minister has said.
Robert Habeck, the Green vice-chancellor of the new climate-focused government in Berlin, said ministers inherited a “drastic backlog” from the previous administration.
He said the tasks included more than doubling the number of wind turbines – with the government planning to speed up approvals with new laws in 2022.
In the meantime, Germany “will probably miss our targets for 2022 … even for 2023 it will be difficult enough,” Mr Habeck told Die Zeit newspaper.
The coming year will be “one of the most exhausting years this ministry has experienced in a long time,” he said of his so-called super-ministry that combines economic affairs and climate change.
Mr Habeck is responsible for putting the coalition’s plans to make 80 per cent of Germany’s electricity renewable by 2030 into action.
The government's agenda includes far-reaching reforms in manufacturing, transport and agriculture and an expansion of solar and wind energy.
Between 1,000 and 1,500 wind turbines will have to be built every year, compared to about 450 under the last government, Mr Habeck said. He acknowledged that this agenda would not be universally popular.
“Not everyone’s going to clap and say hooray, another wind turbine," he said.
The pressure will be raised further this week when Germany disconnects three of its last six nuclear plants. The final batch will be closed next year, leaving a gap in electricity generation that coal and gas will fill if renewables do not.
But Mr Habeck said there was no desire to change course on the abolition of nuclear power, a course set in 2011 and one of the Green party’s flagship goals over the decades.
The targets that could be missed for 2022 include cutting CO2 emissions by 38 per cent compared with 1990 levels in Europe's biggest economy.
Emissions were intended to be 15 per cent down in the hard-to-decarbonise transport sector.
The previous government under chancellor Angela Merkel set steeper targets after a court ruling in April that the previous goals were not sufficient.
But the coalition wants to go further still and is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2045, with the aim that this will meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.