Germany’s decades-long effort to wean itself from fossil fuel energy might fittingly be viewed in terms of the country’s favorite sport. Like its often dominating national men’s soccer team, Germany has been a world leader in the ambition of its climate change policies since the 1990s, setting one challenging target after another while encouraging other countries to do the same through international agreements.
In 2010 Chancellor Angela Merkel followed the cue of previous national leaders in announcing that the country would reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020. But consumer revolt about electricity prices, inaction by the country’s powerful auto industry, and technological hurdles made that goal look increasingly unreachable—until the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year.
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