Long-term Climate Strategies: A Case Study of Germany

Case Summary: 

This case study describes the process of developing Germany’s long-term strategy, “Climate Action Plan 2050.” The Climate Action Plan 2050 focuses on the economy-wide mitigation efforts required for Germany to achieve extensive greenhouse gas (GHG) neutrality by 2050. Key elements of the strategy include a long-term mitigation target for 2050 (extensive GHG neutrality) and an overall 2030 target, as well as sectoral targets for 2030. It also features a set of transformative pathways for all sectors by 2050, as well as a first set of measures. The strategy was designed to operate as an iterative learning process enabling a continuous increase in ambition as envisaged by the Paris Agreement.

The Climate Action Plan 2050 constitutes a good practice because it was developed by many actors (including the public), had appropriate targets, was based on modeling, had sector-and gas-specific milestones and pathways, and contained considerable political influence. All of these factors contributed to the Plan’s success and ultimately led to increased investment in climate change mitigation and the creation of legal frameworks that strengthen climate protection.

Many lessons can be derived from this case, some include:

  • The intended outcome of the participation process must be well defined and communicated.
  • The definition of clear roles for all stakeholders in the process, which might vary according to their background, is key and must be repeatedly communicated and explained.
  • Apart from the participation process, the most important methodological element of the Climate Action Plan is the establishment of sector-specific targets. These goals provide each sector (the respective ministries as well as nonstate actors) with a specific responsibility that must be delivered.
Europe and Central Asia
Action Area 
Planning and Implementation Activity 
Developing Strategies and Plans, Analysis and Data Collection, Developing and Implementing Policies and Measures, Governance and Stakeholder Engagement, Long-Term Strategies
Sectors and Themes 
Agriculture, Transport
Barriers overcome 
Institutional, Political
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Resources Institute (WRI)
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