Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Closing the Implementation Gap: Obstacles in Reaching Net-Zero Pledges in the EU and Germany

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Abstract:  The European Union and Germany have recently committed themselves to greenhouse-gas neutrality by 2050 and 2045, respectively. This substantially reduces their gaps in ambition to the Paris climate goals. However, the current climate policy mix is not sufficient to reach these targets: There is a major implementation gap. Based on economic, legal, and political science perspectives, this article identifies key obstacles in legislating stringent climate policy instruments and making them effective. Using a simple framework, we map the stage of the process in which the obstacles are at work. Moreover, we discuss the potential effectiveness of a select list of prominent drivers of climate-related regulation in overcoming said obstacles and conclude by pointing towards conditions for closing the implementation gap. In doing so, we focus on the current legislative processes of the “Fit-for-55” package by the European Commission and the 2021 Federal Climate Change Act in Germany. Our analysis builds on the extant literature, and we suggest avenues for further research.

Keywords:  ambition gap; climate policy; European Union; Germany; implementation gap



© Grischa Perino, Johannes Jarke-Neuert, Felix Schenuit, Martin Wickel, Cathrin Zengerling. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.