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Germany's economy minister says the country beat its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent last year compared to 1990 levels.

Peter Altmaier said figures show Germany's emissions of planet-heating gases were 42 per cent lower in 2020 than three decades ago, confounding warnings that the country couldn't meet its goal.

While the coronavirus pandemic helped reduce emissions, Altmaier said the target would likely have been achieved anyway even without the drop in economic activity because of the lockdown.

Separately, the German government agreed Wednesday to increase the share of renewable fuels in the transport sector to 28 per cent over the next decade — double the target set by the European Union as a whole. Greenhouse gas emissions in Germany's transport sector have hardly declined since 1990 as more and cars cars hit the road, outweighing the effect of more efficient engines.

The government's plan, which needs to be approved by parliament, includes incentives for the use of electric cars, hydrogen and biofuels made from renewable sources.

Airlines will be required to use at least two per cent synthetic kerosene by 2030.