April 12, 2012 / 3:50 PM / in 6 years

German greenhouse gas emissions off 2.1 pct in 2011

FRANKFURT, April 12 (Reuters) - Germany’s emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) were 2.1 percent down year-on-year in 2011 at 916.7 million tonnes, as the impact of more renewable energy kicked in and mild weather cut heating fuels use, data from government agency Umweltbundesamt (UBA) showed on Thursday.

The emissions of six gases - widely blamed for global warming - were down by 26.5 percent from the reference year 1990, exceeding a target for Germany to lower emissions by 21 percent under the Kyoto climate protocol in that period.

“The emissions reduction owed much to the benefit of relatively mild weather. But the growing share of renewable power and lower power exports also led to the decrease in emissions,” said UBA president Jochen Flasbarth in a statement.

UBA, which cited preliminary estimates, also said the result showed that Germany’s Kyoto targets could be met despite economic growth and an accelerated exit from virtually emissions-free nuclear power.

It said that in its view, European targets overall needed to be tightened and the energetic efficiency of buildings needed to be improved.

Overall carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions which account for the bulk of GHGs were down 2.4 percent year-on-year at 799.7 million, UBA said.

It had reported last week that those CO2 emissions within the total from German installations covered by the EU’s mandatory emissions trading scheme (ETS) totalled 450 million tonnes last year, which was 1 percent below 2010.

The fall could have been sharper, if not for the German government’s decision to exit nuclear power in reaction to Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant accident last March, prompting more reliance on alternative energy sources, including the heavy polluting coal.

Japan’s reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant triggered by a deadly earthquake and tsunami on March 11 last year shook the nuclear world and raised a question mark over whether atomic energy is safe. (Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

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