Germany risks missing 2020 climate targets, ministry report shows

German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a statement to the media after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, December 13, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany is at risk of missing its 2020 target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990, an environment ministry report showed on Wednesday.

Emissions were down by just 27 percent in 2015, it said.

The report will embarrass Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was dubbed the “climate chancellor” after championing the issue with foreign leaders in her first term in office. She has also pushed through a switch to renewable energy.

Since 2014, Germany has stepped up efforts to cut emissions with measures such as improving energy efficiency, trying to boost demand for electric cars and agreeing to mothball some brown coal power plants.

The action plan was expected to save between 62 million and 78 million tonnes of carbon dioxide but now the government expects savings of just 58 million tonnes, the report said.

Although Germany is switching to renewable energy and away from nuclear power and fossil fuel, industry has lobbied hard to keep coal mines running to avoid power supply bottlenecks.

Domestic hard coal mining will end in 2018 but no date has been set to phase out brown coal mines, which are more damaging to the environment.

Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Louise Ireland