24.03.2022  |   Special Report

Federal government needs to control climate protection in a targeted manner

“Germany’s climate goals are at risk. Thus far, the federal government has failed to properly control climate policy”, says Kay Scheller, President of the German SAI, when he communicated a special purpose report to parliament and government. “Most climate protection programmes do not provide for targets regarding greenhouse gas abatement. The concertation of policy initiatives between the various ministries still does not run smoothly. What is more, the climate impact of budget inflows and outflows remains largely opaque”.

Climate neutral by 2045? Not achievable at current pace.

2045 – is the target set by Germany for achieving a carbon neutral footprint. But it is already clear today that the pace needs to pick up. Otherwise, there is a real danger of Germany failing to achieve the first milestone of the roadmap set for 2030. A slew of national programmes has therefore been set up to close the “climate gap”. The new government also pushes to introduce additional programmes. But introducing fresh programmes alone, without targeted controlling, will not be enough to close the “climate gap”.

Federal government needs to control climate protection in a targeted manner

More than 100 climate programmes – with unclear impact

Our audits show: The government currently gives funds to more than 100 climate programmes – running into billions of euros. Most programmes, however, fail to demonstrate their contribution to the overall effort of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Programmes that are inefficient and have no impact are also funded. We thus urge: All programmes need to be aligned with the government’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Coordination still falling short of expectations

In order to achieve set climate goals, the federal government needs to take swift and decisive action. To this end, it has to coordinate all activities taken by all ministries. On top of that, the government has to look more closely into its action’s impact – particularly on the basis of current and meaningful reports. We urge the federal government to optimise its approach.


“Climate protection efforts need to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in an efficient and verifiable manner. The goal has to be that the federal funds running into billions of euros are directed to maximise the impact.”

Kay Scheller, President of the German SAI


Climate impact of budget flows needs to be made transparent

In the years to come, the funding of climate programmes will pose enormous challenges for the government. This makes it all the more important that the government remains in control of the situation. Which programme has a positive impact on the climate, and which has not? We recommend initiating a climate tracking process, i.e. a systematic analysis of all inflows and outflows as to their contribution to climate protection efforts. Moreover, all climate-damaging subsidies need to come under scrutiny.

Federal government needs to control climate protection in a targeted manner

Recommendations to the new government

Our special purpose report is based on the findings of an audit we performed in the previous legislative period. At that time, the Federal Ministry for the Environment had lead responsibility for controlling climate protection efforts. We have given consideration in our report to its comments, and to those of the Federal Ministry of Finance. Our recommendations are aimed at the new government. It is the new government that needs to align its climate action with set goals – so that Germany is in the position to achieve its climate goals.

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