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Germany is at the threshold to enter the net-zero emissions century. Despite massive public support, transformation comes with huge challenges: it impacts the fundamentals of our way of life, traditions and self-image. The ECF in Germany strives to contribute to “building back better” after the corona crisis towards a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy, which provides sustainable jobs, and a healthy and stable environment for the next generations, rebuilding economic welfare on net-zero solutions.

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Key challenges

  • (Increasing) failure to meet reduction targets: Germany is falling behind on climate action. CO2 emissions are not decreasing sufficiently, and it is set to miss them in the next years. Achieving the 2030 targets will be a challenge for the coming government. While Germany is still keeping up its ambition in the international climate negotiations field and has played a crucial role in deciding on an increased EU climate target of minus 55% CO2 emissions in 2030, there is not yet a national plan to have measures in line with this target in order to meet with the Paris Agreement obligations


  • Engaging broad parts of society beyond the progressive spectrum in a meaningful debate about the long-term development of climate strategies: As climate policies increasingly impact the way we live, eat or move, we need broad support and backing for action. It is therefore essential to engage in open debate on the economic, societal or health impacts, knowledge exchange, expert fora and stakeholder dialogues to support their positioning on effective and fair long-term climate strategy and policy.
  • Accelerating the deployment of renewable energies and the German coal phase-out: Renewable energy is, next to energy efficiency, the backbone of the Germany Energiewende. We need rapid and broad deployment in order to meet climate targets in other sectors such as transport or industry. The German coal phase-out, which recommends an exit date of 2038 (adjustable to 2036) is not nearly ambitious enough to fulfil Germany’s climate targets, also including its Paris commitments. Education, awareness-raising, mobilisation and campaigning in the coal regions – that need a clearer, more sustainable vision for their future – and at the federal level aim to set Germany on a path to a much earlier coal exit.
  • Accelerating the transition to a low-carbon transport system: The car industry has always been deeply intertwined with and symbolized by German economic success. Building confidence – and demonstrating at the city, regional and federal levels – that this key industry can become part of, and even spearhead, the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy of the future, will be essential for the pace and the acceptance of the energy transition project as a whole.
  • Empowering and sustaining social movements: While on the one hand, we are observing deep climate impacts, the political inertia on the other is prompting the mobilisation of more and more people to take the streets for climate action in face of the silence. The Fridays for Future movement has inspired other groups – parents, scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, etc – to join in. The political inactivity is a challenge, and increasingly alarming. We need the energy of the people to persist as a driver for the public debate.
  • Fostering cities, health groups as well as industry and businesses in overtaking (and pushing) the government on climate action and ambition: As we cannot rely on the political level any more to drive climate policies, it is businesses, people, cities and grassroots initiatives who fill the gap of stagnation. These initiatives make clear that climate action cannot wait and that it comes with a lot of benefits, being these more sustainable and healthier cities or business opportunities.

How we work

The ECF identifies gaps in the German response to climate change by funding organisations and coalitions of stakeholders with the right expertise and public profile to address key issues, at the local or national level. We take a broad approach to the types of interventions we fund – from litigation and political caucusing to activism and media engagement – because all of this activity builds towards an ambitious and thoughtful movement that reflects the full diversity of our society. Together with our grantees, we seek social and political transformation that will ensure a secure and sustainable future for all.


Milan Dehnen

Senior Associate, Germany Programme

Nick Holzberg

Associate, Germany Programme

Tina Löffelsend

Manager, Germany Programme

Doina Niculescu-Mizil

Germany Office Manager & Programme Assistant

Elias Perabo

Director, Germany Programme

Charlotte Röhren

Senior Associate, Germany Programme