Climate protection

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Rise in global mean surface temperatures 1880–2016. In 2017, surface temperatures were around 1.0 ° C higher than the average for the reference years 1951–1980
Young people protesters at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on September 20, 2019

Climate protection is the collective term for measures that counteract human-caused global warming and mitigate ( mitigation ) or prevent possible consequences of global warming . An important limit is the two-degree threshold , which should not be exceeded if the catastrophic effects of global warming are to be prevented. Preventing dangerous climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing human civilization . Since carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for a very long time as the most important driver of current global warming and some of the consequences of climate change are long-term andare irreversible , the political decisions of the present and the immediate future will have profound effects for thousands to tens of thousands of years.

One of the main approaches to climate protection is, on the one hand, the drastic reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases that are released during energy generation and when energy is consumed in industrial and agricultural production, in transport and in private households. This includes, in particular, the gradual phasing out of the use of fossil fuels in the electricity, heating and transport sectors as well as in industry in order to avoid the associated greenhouse gas emissions. According to climate science expertise, the complete conversion to renewable energies can and must be completed by the middle of the 21st century so that the limitation of global warming aimed at in the Paris Agreement can be achieved. Basically, for every limitation of the earth's temperature to a certain level, the greenhouse gas emissions have to be reduced to zero , since only a limited carbon budget is available for a certain temperature that can be emitted. On the other hand, it is about the conservation and the targeted promotion of such natural components that can absorb and bind carbon dioxide (so-called carbon sinks , especially forests). Climate protection measures of this kind also reduce air pollution and have other positive side effects for the environment and health .

From the point of view of many researchers, the effects of global warming can no longer be stopped completely, but can only be mitigated and limited. Therefore, in parallel with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and measures to adapt to the already inevitable consequences of climate change necessary ( adaptation ), for example. B. Dyke construction and disaster risk management . It should be noted, however, that adaptation measures are primarily successful in the short and medium term, while their long-term effectiveness is difficult to determine, also because adaptation to the consequences of global warming is only possible to a limited extent. In view of the inadequate successes in reducing greenhouse gas emissions so far , large-scale approaches such as CO2 capture and storage or iron fertilization of the world's oceans are also being examined and locally tested within the framework of so-called geoengineering .

In addition to large-scale measures and macroeconomic orientations as well as state and international climate protection policy, climate protection also includes education and behavioral changes of individuals, especially in industrialized countries with a comparatively high energy consumption and corresponding polluter shares in global greenhouse gas emissions. In view of the so far unsuccessful efforts to effectively reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, despite numerous climate conferences, Fridays for Future was formed in 2019 , a global youth protest movement modeled on the initiator Greta Thunberg , which also received broad support from scientific circles.



The main cause of global warming is the release of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. In 2010 mankind produced greenhouse gas emissions amounting to 52 billion tons of CO 2 equivalent . The most important source here was the carbon dioxide release from fossil fuels and industrial processes with 62% of the total, followed by methane release (20%), carbon dioxide emissions from land use changes such as deforestation (10%), nitrous oxide production (5%) and other greenhouse gases such as CFCs .

Due to the long residence time of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere , halting global warming requires that net carbon dioxide emissions be reduced to practically zero. For an effective climate protection policy, it is therefore not enough to simply reduce emissions or even to stabilize them at today's level; rather, climate policy must aim at completely avoiding new greenhouse gas emissions.

At the technical level, there are a number of options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions . In this way, effective climate protection could also be implemented with today's means. This is also confirmed by the 5th assessment report of the IPCC . Achieving climate protection goals always requires a fundamental restructuring of the energy supply, regardless of whether global warming is to be limited to 1.5 ° C, 2 ° C or 3 ° C; There are only differences with regard to the speed of the conversion, but not with regard to its fundamental necessity. However, the later climate protection is started, the more expensive it becomes - in addition to the damage that was not avoided before and after the start - and the more necessary it becomes to use high-risk technologies. A renouncement of climate protection, which would lead to global warming of 4 ° C and more by the end of the 21st century, would, however, be associated with risks that cannot be assessed.

In order to avoid the serious consequences of global warming , the fossil energy reserves known and recoverable up to 2015 may only be partially used. If the two-degree target is to be achieved with a probability of more than 50%, according to data from the IPCC, a maximum of between 870 and 1,240 gigatons (billion tons) of carbon dioxide may be released between 2011 and 2050 . Converted to the reserves, this means that around a third of the global oil reserves , half of the natural gas reserves and more than 80% of the coal reserves must not be burned. Associated with this is a possible decrease in value for numerous companies in the fossil energy industry, which have already acquired the extraction rights to a large part of these reserves and have entered them as assets in their balance sheets. The possible overvaluation of fossil fuel companies is also known as the carbon bubble . Likewise, protecting the climate requires decarbonising the chemical sector . This means that fossil raw materials such as petroleum have to be replaced. In addition to biomass, alternatives to fossil chemical raw materials are synthetically produced hydrocarbons based on Power-to-X technologies such as B. Power-to-Gas .

From an economic point of view, the emissions peak should be reached by 2020 at the latest and there should then be a rapid decrease in emissions, as this is the only way to achieve cost-efficient climate protection. The later the emission peak, the faster the emissions would then have to fall, the more expensive climate protection would be and the more difficult it would be to achieve the goals set. If ambitious climate protection does not begin until 2020 to 2030, the restructuring of the energy system must then take place all the more radically and faster in order to achieve the two-degree target with at least 50% probability. At the same time, there are higher overall costs, more stranded costs in the fossil energy sector and stronger economic effects during the conversion process, which makes the political feasibility of such a plan appear questionable. It must be taken into account that the worldwide renunciation of fossil fuels , which is to be presented as an ideal case for climate protection, only leads to success with a delay, since the slowdown in the reduction of greenhouse gases means that warming will continue to rise decades after an emission stop. An important instrument for achieving the climate goals is the correct pricing of fossil fuels , which internalizes the external costs of their combustion , so that there are no further incentives for the use or the further expansion of carbon-intensive technologies, e.g. B. in coal power plants exist.

Since energy systems are embedded in long-lasting infrastructure and the use of fossil fuels is deeply anchored in the culture of modern society, a complete switch to renewable energy systems cannot be implemented spontaneously, but a process that will take decades. The concepts for the energy transition as well as the technologies required for it are known. From a political point of view, however, the switch from an emission-intensive to a sustainable energy system is demanding, as it would serve the economic interests of the most powerful industrial sectors, such as B. the fossil energy and electricity industry, the automotive industry, agricultural industry and steel industry. The conventional energy industry alone has annual sales of several trillion US dollars and is therefore using a variety of means to influence politics to slow the speed of the energy transition.

Shipping is increasingly coming into focus in this regard, because greenhouse gas emissions from shipping in the EU, for example, increased by 48 percent between 1990 and 2008 and accounted for around 13 percent of total emissions from transport in the EU in 2015. In the European Union, shipping emitted around 139 million tons of CO 2 in 2018 . There are considerations for recording the travel time and the distance traveled, or for information about the amount of freight transported. This applies in particular to the shortening of long transport routes and the considerable reduction in travel speed in order to reduce CO 2 pollution. For reasons of CO 2 avoidance, the steadily increasing container traffic on the maritime Silk Road, which comes from Asia to Europe via the Suez Canal , has to be considered. The container ships are currently taking the detour via the Strait of Gibraltar to North Sea ports in order to be unloaded there. Unloading ships onto trains in Mediterranean ports such as Trieste, Genoa or Venice would be more environmentally friendly and sustainable. The emissions (CO 2 , NO x , SO 2 etc.) from Port Said to Warsaw, for example, are 145 kg / TEU via the sea and rail route via Rotterdam and 84 kg / TEU via a northern Adriatic port .

From an ecological and sustainability point of view, many of the technological developments serving climate protection - such as solar and wind power plants, electric and hydrogen vehicles or energy-efficient buildings - require increasing quantities of raw materials that are scarce or environmentally harmful. So that these technologies are still available to future generations, sustainable raw material extraction and closed cycles must be taken into account and documented during product planning.

Roadmap for meeting the Paris goals

The internationally agreed goal of climate protection policy is to limit the rise in the earth's temperature to well below 2 ° C compared to pre-industrial times, with the aim of capping global warming to 1.5 ° C if possible. The Paris Agreement concluded for this purpose came into force in 2016 and thus became international law . Translated into scientific terms, the agreement means that the two-degree target will be met with a probability of more than 66% and at the same time a 50% chance of the 1.5 ° C limit. This results in a fixed CO 2 budget , i.e. an upper limit for the maximum emissions that can still be released. Including a small risk buffer for feedbacks that reinforce climate change or delays in the use of negative emissions , a maximum of 700 billion tons of carbon dioxide may be emitted worldwide by 2100. On the basis of this initial data, a roadmap with concrete climate protection steps with which the Paris goals can be achieved was published in the journal Science in 2017 .

The core element of this roadmap is a “carbon law”, according to which global greenhouse gas emissions will peak in 2020 at the latest and must be halved every decade from then on. This means that emissions must fall from 40 billion tons in 2020 to 20 billion tons in 2030, to 10 billion tons in 2040 and to 5 billion tons in 2050. This halving per decade means that the global economy must be almost completely decarbonised by 2050 at the latest for all countries worldwide as well as for all economic sectors including land use equally. At the same time, the proportion of carbon dioxide-free energy sources must be doubled every 5 to 7 years, which corresponds to the historical development of renewable energies in the past decade (doubling every 5.4 years).

Between 2017 and 2020, basic decisions, so-called no-brainers , must be made according to this roadmap , which practically arise by themselves. This includes the creation of a political framework for ambitious climate protection measures such as the introduction of effective funding mechanisms for renewable energies, the introduction of a minimum price in European emissions trading of at least $ 50 / ton, the transformation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change into a pioneering organization in matters of climate protection and the abolition of subsidies for fossil energies (currently around 500 to 600 billion dollars annually) by 2020 at the latest. Further measures include the abandonment of new coal-fired power plants without CCS technology , the introduction of decarbonization targets in companies and cities and the introduction of more climate-friendly production methods in agriculture .

Between 2020 and 2030, the measures outlined above must be continued and supplemented. It is important to increase energy efficiency , which in some areas in industry and households enables energy savings of 40 to 50%. The existing emissions trading systems must be expanded so that they cover all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide; a minimum price of $ 50 / ton must also be introduced there. In addition, the phase-out of coal must be completed by around 2030 and the end of combustion engines in new cars must be resolved by 2030 at the latest in order to prevent further investments in fossil fuels. Research into energy-efficient industrial production technologies, batteries , energy storage systems , intelligent power grids , alternative fuels for aircraft and CCS technology is also very important in this decade . In addition, the realization of negative emissions is becoming significant, including through the afforestation of degraded soils and the construction of BECCS power plants and systems for the direct extraction and separation of carbon dioxide from the ambient air (DACCS). By the end of the decade, 100 to 500 million tons of negative emissions should be achieved annually. Of course, deposition requires repositories for similar amounts of carbon as are extracted from the earth, regardless of the modification or chemical compound.

Between 2030 and 2040, the first countries such as Norway , Denmark and Sweden should be fully electrified and decarbonised by sector coupling. Cars with internal combustion engines will have to be largely replaced by electric cars during the decade , air traffic will have to be switched to alternative fuels such as e-fuels , biofuels or hydrogen and the global oil phase- out will take place by around 2040. In addition, new buildings must be carbon dioxide neutral from 2030. Building materials that were previously greenhouse gas-intensive, such as steel or concrete, must either be manufactured in a carbon dioxide-neutral manner through modified production technology or replaced by building materials that are harmless to the climate, such as wood , stone or carbon fiber materials. BECCS power plants have to be expanded and remove around 1–2 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the earth's atmosphere every year.

Necessary paths to reduce emissions in order to meet the two-degree target agreed in the Paris Agreement without negative emissions, depending on the emission peak

Between 2040 and 2050, the world will have to be largely supplied by renewable energies. Gas -fired power plants with CCS technology that are still powered by fossil natural gas can occasionally be used as a backup, and in some countries nuclear power plants may also be used . By the beginning of the 2040s, all major European countries should be approximately greenhouse gas neutral, while most countries in America, Asia and Africa should achieve this goal by the end of the decade. By 2050, BECCS power plants should draw at least 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year from the atmosphere, so that the world would then be net greenhouse gas neutral. A reduction of or a complete waiver of BECCS systems is also conceivable. However, this is only possible under the condition that the climate protection measures mentioned above are implemented significantly faster between 2020 and 2030 than described in this roadmap. In this case, however, DACCS systems would still be required.

In research it is controversial whether and to what extent BECCS systems will be able to realize large quantities of negative emissions. As of 2017, the market maturity of negative-emission technologies is not foreseeable; moreover, they are in all probability associated with high costs and negative ecological effects that are difficult to calculate. The Advisory Council for Environmental Issues therefore recommends choosing a strategy for the climate protection roadmap that enables the goals to be achieved without negative emissions or other geoengineering measures. Without negative emissions, the energy transition must be completed by around 2040.

Avoidance of path dependencies

An important factor in achieving the two-degree target is avoiding path dependencies that make the transition from fossil to emission-neutral energy systems more difficult. This includes, for example, the so-called carbon lock-in , i.e. the inertia that emanates from a fossil energy system and inhibits the transformation to a climate-neutral energy system. This effect could be avoided by developing countries that are still at the beginning of industrialization by building a renewable energy system from the beginning instead of relying on fossil energy technologies first. A long-term planning horizon that not only targets the next 10 to 15 years but also includes the entire period up to around 2050-2070 is also of great importance for an effective climate policy . H. until the energy system is completely emission-free. Short-term climate protection strategies, on the other hand, could mean that favorable climate protection measures are taken in the short term, which, however, due to path dependencies, make it more difficult or impossible to achieve decarbonization in time.

Such an effect is e.g. B. when switching from coal-fired power plants to lower-emission gas - fired power plants or when increasing the efficiency of vehicles with conventional internal combustion engines . Such a policy, which is being pursued by many countries, could save around a third of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, but at the same time it would cement the role of fossil fuels, making further emission reductions difficult and slow. Alternatively, the switch from coal to CO 2 -free energies and electric mobility could initially be less rapid than in the above scenario and also be more expensive in the short term. However, this approach would lead directly to a greenhouse gas-neutral energy system without path dependencies. The switch to electromobility would initially only result in low emissions savings as long as the electricity comes from fossil-fuel power plants; with an increasing proportion of CO 2 -free energies, however, emissions from the transport sector would decrease accordingly.

Problem articulation in science and politics

A Zeit dossier in June 2019 investigated the different perspectives and practical conclusions on climate change in science and politics . Among other things, it emphasizes that scientific climate research is constantly concerned with resolving contradictions in order to arrive at clear results, while it can also appear logical to politicians when speeches, decisions and actions fall apart. On the other hand, it needs to be explained from a scientific point of view that the need for political action has now been adhered to for more than a quarter of a century, while the continuous increase in global carbon dioxide emissions since the early 1990s corresponds to the curve that climatologists used at the time in the event that nothing is done to reduce emissions.

The contradiction outlined in this way can only be resolved in the scenarios that are designed for future CO 2 sinks. In January 2019, the physicist Andreas Oschlies, who was involved in the special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, described, among other things, a model that included compliance with the 1.5 ° C limit set in Paris for the rise in the mean temperature of the earth. Accordingly, humanity would have to subordinate everything else to the fight against climate change and immediately abandon the use of coal. Remaining emissions, for example from air traffic, residential building heating or cement production, would have to be compensated, for example through annual forest planting that would correspond to around half the area of ​​Germany - year after year until the end of the century. “At the same time, the world's energy demand would continue to be so great that it cannot be met by wind turbines and solar systems alone. To close this gap in a climate-neutral way, 25 nuclear power plants would have to be built every year. Otherwise the temperature rise would not stay at 1.5 degrees. "

Alternatively, various types of climate engineering are under discussion, including forced types of CO 2 -binding rock weathering by crushing rock and allowing it to weather over a large area. In order to compensate for the current annual emissions, this scenario would require a Matterhorn equivalent to be smashed, twice a year. Techniques for such orders of magnitude do not yet exist, according to the Zeit dossier, but they must be ready for use in 10 years at the latest in order to be able to comply with the Paris limit values.

For Oliver Geden from the Science and Politics Foundation in Berlin, there is a kind of working alliance between politics and science in view of the inadequate public information about the actual status of climate change issues, in which no one wants to take responsibility for declaring the global climate goals to have failed. “Politics cannot pursue a climate target that science has declared unattainable; science, on the other hand, shy away from clearing a certain climate target again in order not to invite politicians to even less ambitious climate targets.

Armin Falk reflects on problems and opportunities to get people from knowledge to action for the urgently needed climate protection . In the majority of cases, intrinsic motivation for individual contributions is unlikely: As individuals, experience shows that people are only willing to cooperate if this is generally the case in their environment. But the larger the group encouraged to cooperate - in this case all of humanity - the more difficult it is to cooperate on a long-term basis. According to Falk, experiments also show that personal contributions that will only become effective in the future, such as one's own contribution to climate protection, are less motivating than directly rewarded action. It is therefore necessary to develop social norms - such as the ban on smoking in public spaces - in order to achieve the necessary broad impact. But after all, the benefits of each individual contribution to climate protection benefit each of the approximately 7.5 billion people worldwide.

In view of the global climate protection policy that has been unsuccessful for more than three decades, Jens Soentgen calls for a realignment: Above all, it is important to maintain confidence in an environmental and climate policy that has "recognizable and tangible ecological benefits for citizens at regional and local level." donates, and that during their lifetime. ”Soentgen's priority is therefore the biodiversity strategy : the ecological reconstruction of biodiversity and biotopes . Climate policy should be related to this, "because this is the only way to maintain a consistent environmental policy that sets goals that can also be implemented." For example, moors and alluvial forests can be rewetted and thus not only create valuable biotopes, but also store CO 2 . “We can build and maintain open space photovoltaic systems in such a way that ecologically valuable meadow biotopes are created. [...] That would be goals that are achievable and that overcome the feeling of powerlessness that destroys all democratic politics. "

Application areas for climate protection

Power generation

More climate protection in energy generation can be ensured in various ways:

  1. above all through the expansion and use of renewable energies without greenhouse gas emissions, which alone are considered to be a safe climate protection instrument;
  2. during a transition phase to the other by increasing the efficiency and reducing emissions of conventional power plants operated with fossil fuels;
  3. through the generation of atomic energy while accepting the known long-term risks.

According to the study published in April 2019 by the Energy Watch Group and a research group at the Technical University of Lappeenranta, it is possible to cap global warming at an increase of 1.5 ° C by switching energy generation worldwide to renewable energy sources by 2050 at the latest. This is due to a five-fold increase in the corresponding electricity generation (the scenario according to a total of 69 percent from solar energy, 18 percent from wind power, six percent from biomass and waste recycling, three percent from hydropower and two percent each from geothermal energy and other non-fossil fuels) actually doable. The extraordinarily extensive database is said to have been worked on for four and a half years. The world was divided into 145 regions for which wind and weather conditions as well as water resources and infrastructure were recorded. A high-performance computer has calculated the possible energy mix for each of the regions with the result that by the target date in all regions of the world all energy can be obtained 100 percent from renewable sources.

Use of renewable energies

Wind turbines and photovoltaic systems are the regenerative technologies with the greatest potential and are considered to be great hope for climate protection.
Worldwide development of wind energy.

The use of fossil fuels for energy production makes a significant contribution to the accumulation of CO 2 in the atmosphere . Therefore, for reasons of climate protection, a switch to CO 2 -free or low-carbon energy sources is sought. Since only renewable energies are able to enable a sustainable energy system in the long term , renewable energies are often given a key role in climate protection. These energy sources are not completely CO 2 -free either (for example, energy is also used in the construction of power plants or in the production of organic fuels), but they allow a substantial reduction in CO 2 release. With an average carbon dioxide equivalent of 9.4 g CO 2 / kWh from wind power plants , 11.6 g CO 2 / kWh from hydropower plants and 29.2 g CO 2 / kWh from photovoltaic plants , renewable energy sources are only a fraction of the emissions from fossil power plants . For example, combined cycle gas power plants emit approx. 350 to 400 g CO 2 and hard coal power plants around 750 to 1050 g CO 2 per kWh.

Renewable energies can be used both locally and centrally. Decentralized uses include B. the construction of photovoltaic systems and solar collectors for heat generation on house roofs, the construction of (onshore) wind farms close to the consumer as well as most of the biomass systems for electricity and heat generation. Large-scale uses are z. B. the construction of offshore wind farms or previously unrealized concepts for solar and wind energy use in the desert regions of North Africa and Asia such as " Desertec " or " Gobitec ".

A completely regenerative and thus carbon dioxide-free energy supply worldwide is theoretically seen as technically feasible by 2050. In Germany, a climate-friendly energy supply could even be achieved by 2040 (in particular through savings and due to the falling population). To do this, however, the pace of the expansion of renewable energies would have to be increased significantly.

According to the Allianz Climate & Energy Monitor 2016 , the G20 countries run the risk of missing the climate targets agreed at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015 . This is due to a growing gap between current investments in renewable energies and future needs. The G20 countries will need investments of around 710 billion US dollars annually until 2035 in order to meet the climate targets. The most attractive countries for investors are Germany, Great Britain, France and China.

According to an expert report published in 2014 on behalf of the UN Secretary General, the rapid fall in the price of wind and solar energy makes renewable energies competitive with energy from coal in many regions of the world. In the next 15 years, more than half of the world's electricity generation could come from renewable sources. Due to technological advances, governments and companies could achieve economic growth, climate protection and energy savings at the same time. Investing in low-emission technologies would bring sustainable growth and protect against the negative effects of global warming, the report said.

Renewable energies are being expanded significantly around the world. The expansion rates can be found in the articles wind energy , photovoltaics and hydropower . In Germany, around 151 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents were saved through renewable energies in 2014, 110 million tons of which in the electricity sector. This corresponds to more than 15 percent of the total greenhouse gases emitted.

Another important regenerative energy source is biomass in the form of bioenergy . When using biomass ( short rotation plantation wood use ) as an energy source, however, the potentially problematic conflict of use between food and feed as well as for the extraction of natural raw materials must be taken into account. The economically interesting conversion of primeval forest into oil palm plantations , such as Sometimes the case in some South American and Southeast Asian countries, it is also counterproductive in terms of climate policy. Biomass is only climate-neutral if no more biomass is extracted than can grow back.

More efficient power plants

Mini-CHP in an encapsulated design

Another possibility is to increase the energy efficiency of existing power plants that run on fossil fuels, especially in countries with high inefficiencies such as China . Power plants are used there, the efficiency of which is significantly below the state of the art. Switching to block-type thermal power stations can also make a significant contribution to economical energy generation. They implement the principle of combined heat and power and thus achieve a higher degree of utilization than power plants that are only used to generate electricity.

The switch from coal- fired power generation to the use of natural gas brings about a reduction in emissions, since gas-fired power plants produce fewer greenhouse gases than coal-fired power plants . However, natural gas losses during extraction and transport are problematic because methane, the main component of natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas that is many times stronger than carbon dioxide. In the case of high gas losses, it is therefore possible that gas-fired power plants can have a worse climate balance than coal-fired power plants. Christian von Hirschhausen warns of the narrative of "clean natural gas" as a bridge energy carrier: "Natural gas is not cleaner, it is yesterday's coal and should therefore be removed from the energy system."

In general, it must be taken into account that increases in the efficiency of conventional power plants based on coal and gas only have a limited potential for climate protection. Should the switch to gas as a bridging technology delay the expansion of climate-friendly alternatives, there is a risk that global warming will even intensify.

Nuclear energy

The use of nuclear energy discussed as a contribution to climate protection is controversial. In 2013, nuclear energy provided 10.8% of the world's electricity demand, while its share in global final energy consumption was less than 2.5%. In the foreground of the criticism are the general problems of nuclear energy, especially the risks of possible accidents in which radioactivity is released, and the long-term storage of radioactive waste . It is also criticized that the extraction, enrichment and transport of uranium are also associated with carbon dioxide emissions. At 9–70 g CO 2 / kWh, the CO 2 emissions from nuclear power plants are higher than from wind power, solar thermal and hydropower plants, but at a similar level to photovoltaic systems and significantly lower than from all fossil power plants including coal-fired power plants with CO2 separation and storage . In 2015, eight nuclear power plants with an electrical output of approx. 11,000 MW were still in operation in Germany. These are to be phased out by the end of 2022 .

Under the hypothetical assumption that for the purpose of decarbonising the energy system, the entire expected energy demand of the earth would be covered by nuclear energy by 2030, around 15,800 reactors with a capacity of 850 MW each would have to be built worldwide. On the other hand, if only 5% of the world's energy needs are supplied by nuclear energy, the number of reactors would have to be doubled compared to 2010.

Unlike nuclear power plants, which generate electricity from nuclear fission generate, should nuclear fusion reactors , the nuclear fusion use, but are not expected to be ready for market by 2050, so that they for climate protection until then no role to play. The ITER research reactor aims to demonstrate that nuclear fusion can deliver energy in this way; ITER should generate roughly as much thermal energy as it consumes itself, but not generate any electricity. It is also used to develop and test a process for the planned incubation of the tritium required as fuel and to search for materials for the reaction vessel that would be exposed to strong neutron radiation.

Measures to reduce CO 2 on the consumer side

Sun house in Bavaria, largely heated with solar thermal energy
Heat radiation from a poorly insulated exterior wall

In Germany, private households were responsible for around 15 percent of climate-damaging emissions and around 28 percent of final energy consumption through heating, electricity consumption and individual transport (equivalent to 723 billion kWh, as of 2013). 69 percent was used for heating, 15 percent for hot water, six percent for cooking, four percent for cooling, four percent for information and communication technologies and two percent for lighting. An increase in energy efficiency means “more output per input” or “less input for a constant output”. The latter means energy saving . There are a number of technical solutions for greater energy efficiency in households, businesses and transport:

  • Good insulation of the building envelope (roof, facades, windows, basement ceiling) and the use of energy-efficient condensing boilers or heat pumps lead to a low-energy house or a KfW-funded passive house . For example (as of 2007/8) the city of Freiburg im Breisgau could avoid 58 percent of CO 2 emissions through good insulation of the residential buildings . The city of Delitzsch is one of the most successful European municipalities in terms of practical implementation . There, between 1990 and 2007, carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by 60 percent, final energy consumption by 22 percent and primary energy consumption by 24 percent.
  • Passive houses already make it possible to reduce energy consumption in households by up to 80%; Similar concepts are available for factory buildings (see BINE). Modern shower heads can reduce shower water consumption by up to 50%, so that less water has to be heated.
  • The use of renewable energies is ideally CO 2 -neutral.
  • In the field of transport: reducing the need for transport , more efficient means of transport . There are also alternative fuels such as biodiesel , vegetable oil and bioethanol - the use of which, however, is controversial due to the sometimes considerable environmental damage.
  • The public sector can reduce road constraints through small-scale urban planning and spatial planning . With the offer of public bicycles , several cities are trying to make bicycles more attractive for short distances. Attractive public transport can reduce the need to drive. Energy-saving vehicles can be subsidized.
  • Organizations such as KlimaInvest, atmosfair or myclimate enable compensation payments for alleged climate damage, e.g. B. by air travel . The voluntary levies are used to support climate protection projects.
  • Consumers can record and optimize their own climate-damaging behavior as an overall balance. Various institutions make this possible through CO2 calculators . As a result, the effectiveness or the value of climate-protecting behavior changes, z. B. by a future renunciation of long-distance travel, by a vegetarian diet, by renovating your own house or by renouncing your own car, recognized in relation to each other and compared with the individual effort to be used.

Measures in traffic

Battery bus of the type BYD ebus at a charging station in Shanghai , China. The use of public transport, especially electric vehicles, offers great savings potential compared to motorized individual transport.

Since motorized road traffic has a very large share of carbon dioxide emissions, there is great potential for personal savings here.

  • Avoidance of car and air travel (to reduce the environmental impact of aviation )
  • Shortening of journeys through efficient combination of journeys (route chains)
  • Use of more environmentally friendly means of transport, for example bicycles, public transport or at least more economical low-energy vehicles
  • Conversion to electric cars , battery buses , electric trucks
  • Participation in car sharing (this means that the energy consumption in the manufacture and disposal of a vehicle can be distributed among several users)
  • Use of climate-friendly fuels such as biodiesel or vegetable oil from sustainable cultivation
  • Energy-saving driving style in motor vehicles (drive at low revs and avoid high speeds; adapt to the flow of traffic and approach traffic lights and obstacles with foresight in order to avoid unnecessary braking and restarting; use the engine brake; switch off the engine when stationary, e.g. at traffic lights or in a traffic jam)

A greater decline in the transport of goods and people can also be achieved through re-regionalization of the economy and better local infrastructure.

Measures in private households and at work

By converting to energy-efficient lighting such as LED lamps , power consumption for lighting
purposes can be reduced by up to 80%.

Regardless of the international climate protection policy , which has only made slow progress so far, each individual can contribute to avoiding unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions in a personal and social context. By saving personal energy alone, average consumption - and thus also CO 2 emissions - can be reduced by 20 to 50 percent in the household.

Frugal electrical appliances use between one and two thirds less energy than inefficient appliances. When purchasing new energy-efficient household appliances, heating systems and vehicles in the interests of climate protection, it must be checked whether continued use without a new purchase or a second-hand solution over the life of the product is not the more efficient alternative. Because both the production of new devices and the disposal of old devices are usually very energy-intensive. When buying a new one, the market can be searched for low-energy products and longer-lasting products (with an extended warranty period). The energy rating of the EU also provides information on the fuel consumption of equipment, and for large household appliances are the low-energy Institute regularly the list "particularly economical household appliances" out. In addition, it must be ensured that inefficient old appliances are "withdrawn from the market" and not exported to third world countries, otherwise consumption will only be stimulated, but not overall emissions.

The personal climate protection precautions that private individuals can take in their respective area of ​​activity include in the areas of increasing energy efficiency and saving energy:

  • Use efficient household appliances such as energy-saving lamps
  • Change to a green electricity provider who is certified by seals such as the Ok-power label or the green electricity label
  • make private investments in renewable energies , e.g. B. through an in-house photovoltaic system or with a community energy cooperative
  • Restrained use of air conditioning systems (see also " Cool Biz ")
  • Use energy-saving room ventilation technology
  • Operate heating systems with the highest possible degree of efficiency, this includes regular maintenance and, if necessary, replacement. Around 70 percent of heating systems in German private households are currently considered outdated and no longer state-of-the-art. In addition to more efficient heating based on fossil fuels, heating systems based on renewable energies are particularly suitable (solar thermal energy, wood fuel, geothermal energy, biogas) and have been funded by the Market Incentive Program (MAP) since April 1, 2015. See also Boiler # Registration and avoidance of unnecessarily high energy consumption .
  • Install better thermal insulation of the building envelope (roof, facades, windows, basement ceiling) in private houses.
  • Realize new buildings in the passive house standard
  • Unavoidable emissions can be offset elsewhere by financing carefully selected climate protection projects
  • Use of sustainable IT or implementation of green IT strategies

Climate-friendly consumer behavior

Greenhouse effect of various food groups: Animal foods, especially beef and lamb, as well as vegetables and fruit from heated greenhouses are particularly harmful to the climate.

With their purchasing behavior, consumers can also act in terms of climate protection by preferring more climate-friendly products and services:

  • Conversion to green electricity
  • Reduction of meat and milk consumption . Around the world, animal husbandry is responsible for around 15% of human CO 2 equivalent emissions. A climate and environmentally friendly diet is usually also healthier.
  • Prefer locally produced products (e.g. food ) to avoid long transport routes.
  • Reduction of tobacco consumption , since tobacco cultivation not only causes greenhouse gases, but also requires immense resources for production and disposal, which, for example, are considerably higher than those for sugar or meat production.
  • Use of renewable energies, especially for heating and cooling ( photovoltaics , geothermal energy , solar thermal energy , biomass )
  • Pay attention to consumption and pollutant emissions when buying a vehicle. Prefer bicycle and public transport.
  • Have print products printed climate- neutrally
  • Pay attention to a sustainable purchasing policy in your own company and at work

Climate protection in schools

Several thousand schools in Germany participate in the Federal Environment Ministry's “Climate Protection School” program and integrate climate protection into everyday school life and the curriculum, for example through the school's own photovoltaic systems with electricity meters or the linking of technologies such as biogas or geothermal energy with subjects such as biology, chemistry and geography. The Federal Environment Ministry provides teaching material.

Preservation / reconstruction of natural carbon sinks

Deforestation in the tropical rainforest both releases a lot of carbon dioxide and destroys an important
carbon sink

The most important carbon sinks for climate protection are - besides the oceans - large forest areas, namely tropical rainforests and boreal forests . The areas that are suitable for the long-term accumulation of CO 2 in biomass are decreasing worldwide. Since the UN climate conference in Bali (2007), the REDD model has been developed in this context , which provides compensation payments for forest protection measures to developing countries and local organizations. In this way, financial incentives are to be created to limit forest destruction.

In addition to the preservation of the forests, large-scale reforestation is also considered a suitable measure. This includes considerations to convert arable land back into forest or to rebuild forests in countries such as Russia, Canada, the USA and others. The magnitude of the effects is assessed differently depending on the measure. However, deforestation is currently taking place, which is also contributing to climate change through the release of carbon dioxide. In 2011 changes in land use such as B. the clearing of forests according to publications of the IPCC released approx. 0.9 ± 0.8 billion tons of pure carbon, which corresponds to about 10% of the total anthropogenic ("total anthropogenic") carbon release ; the release from fossil fuels and during cement production amounts to 9.5 ± 0.8 billion tons of carbon.

The situation is more complex for wetlands such as bogs , swamps and floodplains : They act as strong net sinks for CO 2 , but at the same time as net sources for the strong greenhouse gas methane , so that their balance depends on details such as the local climate and land use.


Agriculture and forestry are responsible for 23 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of August 8, 2019. Human use affects over 70 percent of the global, ice-free land surface. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the rise in temperature over the land is already 1.53 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era (global mean 0.87 degrees). A particular problem with the mass-produced glyphosate soybean production associated -Use in agricultural countries like Brazil and Argentina represent. But the rain forest on the Amazon has already lost 17 percent of the forest area since 1970 due to land clearing for agricultural economic connection usage. With 20 to 25 percent loss, this rainforest threatens irrevocably to tip over and become a savannah landscape. As an antidote, it is recommended, among other things, to financially support states that are particularly dependent on agricultural exports in reforestation measures. An estimated 30 percent of all food that ends up in the garbage represents completely pointless greenhouse gas emissions. Other climate protection measures in the agricultural sector include the protection of carbon stores through management of land use, renaturation and humus promotion, in particular the reduction of nitrogen emissions in the areas of animal husbandry and fertilizer management.


The keyword geoengineering summarizes attempts to manipulate ecosystems on a large or even global scale in order to mitigate the consequences of climate change. Geoengineering distinguishes between two approaches: Either an attempt is made to remove CO 2 emitted from the atmosphere using physical, chemical or biological methods (i.e. to realize so-called negative emissions ), or an attempt is made to intervene directly in the earth's radiation budget by changing the planetary albedo ("Solar Radiation Management").

A much discussed method, for example, is to fertilize the oceans on a large scale with iron ions. The background is that in large areas of the world's oceans according to previous ecological knowledge, the production of phytoplankton is nutrient- limited , with iron in particular acting as a minimum factor . The attempt by the controversial American businessman Russ George, who carried out corresponding attempts on his own and not coordinated, made headlines in particular. After serious scientific experiments, an increased biomass production and also a certain sinking of biomass particles into deeper water layers could in principle be proven. However, many scientists doubt the usefulness of the method. The quantities to be stored would be small in relation to the effort and it would be expected that most of the stored carbon would be remobilized in relatively short periods of time. Overall, the technology is therefore considered to be unsafe in terms of its efficiency and its effects, and there is at least still a great need for research, so that a serious decision on possible use could hardly be made.

It must be taken into account that geoengineering measures have limits on their effectiveness compared to preventive climate protection measures: Among other things, they can not prevent or reverse the serious long-term effects of climate change on ecosystems , especially the seas . The original pre-industrial marine ecosystem, impaired by high CO 2 emissions, cannot be restored through the use of techniques for CO 2 removal from the atmosphere, even if the pre-industrial CO 2 concentration of 280 ppm were reached again. The consequences of a path that first focuses on high emissions and then removes CO 2 from the atmosphere again would be much more severe than with a consistent climate protection path, especially with regard to the pH value , temperature and oxygen saturation of the oceans. Geoengineering in the form of radiation management by spreading aerosols in the atmosphere cannot remove CO 2 from the atmosphere. If no CO 2 can be artificially removed from the atmosphere, radiation management would therefore have to be maintained uninterrupted for tens of thousands of years. Radiation management therefore does not dispense with the need to make the energy system completely CO 2 -neutral or CO 2 -negative.

Problems also arise from the fact that the geoengineering methods themselves would again have considerable environmental consequences. When sulfur aerosols are released into the atmosphere on a larger scale, a reduction and redistribution of global precipitation can be expected; Serious concerns remain about the impact on the ozone layer . Proponents of the method therefore admit that it would only be realistic as a measure in addition to a massive reduction in emissions, not instead.

Actors and areas of action

International politics

Symbolic signing of the Paris Agreement by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Earth Day ( April 22, 2016 ) in New York

In the meantime, almost all countries in the world have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992, which is binding under international law and is intended to prevent dangerous disruption of the climate system. As a result, negotiation was and is being made primarily on the reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions that are recorded in the Kyoto Protocol . This officially came into force on February 16, 2005 and contained regulations up to 2012. With the Doha amendments, it was extended by a second commitment period until 2020, in which 37 countries and the European Union reduced their emissions by an average of 18% compared to theirs 1990 emissions level agreed.

In the post-Kyoto process , a succession plan for the subsequent period was negotiated and decided at the 21st UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015. There, all 195 member states agreed to limit global warming to well below 2 ° C and to cap the increase at 1.5 ° C if possible. For this purpose, a large number of states submitted plans, so-called "Intended Nationally Determined Contributions" or INDCs, which list promised national climate protection measures. However, these plans by the individual states are insufficient to achieve the two-degree target . Should the states fulfill their promises made, there will be a global warming of 2.6 to 3.1 ° C by 2100 and a further rise in temperature after 2100. For compliance with the two-degree limit, a subsequent tightening of the promises or a Overachieving the goals is imperative. Basically, for every limitation of the earth's temperature to a certain level, the net greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to zero, since only a limited carbon budget is available for a certain temperature that can be emitted.

In September 2016, the two countries with the largest greenhouse gas emissions , China and the USA , ratified the treaty. A few small states had already completed the ratification process beforehand. After other states, including Germany and the European Union, having ratified the treaty, entered into force on November 4, 2016. A total of 169 states ratified the agreement on November 2, 2017. On June 1, 2017, US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the US from the Paris climate protection agreement. In doing so, he followed an election campaign promise to allegedly protect America's industry, power generation and workers in the sense of an "affirmation of American sovereignty". Trump had declared that he did not believe the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change which is "fake ( fake ) science."

As of 2018, the international climate protection policy is nowhere near sufficient to achieve the climate protection targets. According to a UNEP study, the Emissions Gap Report 2018, countries worldwide have to triple their climate protection efforts in order to achieve the two-degree target agreed in Paris ; a five-fold increase is necessary to reach the 1.5 degree target . The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated in its special report 1.5 ° C global warming that “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all areas of society” are necessary. In November 2018, the EU Commission declared that it wanted to make the European economy completely greenhouse gas-neutral by 2050. In addition to a complete abandonment of fossil fuels, negative emissions should also be realized, for example through reforestation of forests in order to compensate for unavoidable emissions. From an economic point of view, the project is an asset, stressed EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete . Investment costs of 290 billion euros per year would be offset by around 200 billion euros in health costs saved through less air pollution and a reduction in energy imports of currently 266 billion euros by 70%.

Against the background of the youth protests on climate policy, the environmental policy debate calls for a critical reassessment of previous international climate policy. The international climate policy, which dates back to 1969 (NATO) and 1972 (Stockholm Environment Conference), has not been able to prevent global greenhouse gas emissions from rising steadily in 50 years, making climate change an acute danger. Consequently, according to the political scientist Volker von Prittwitz , for example , the traditional climate policy of long-term climate goals should be accelerated and intensified through a policy of forced action based on the concept of climate protection.

According to a study published in the specialist journal BioScience 2019, the climate protection plans of most countries that have so far made commitments to save greenhouse gases are not enough to curb global warming. Measured against the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030, of the 184 countries with reduction commitments, only the 28 EU states together (with 9 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions) and a further seven countries ( Iceland , Liechtenstein , Monaco , Norway , Moldova , Switzerland , Ukraine ) are on track in this regard, while the major emitters China (27 percent), USA (13 percent), India (7 percent) and Russia (5 percent) are far from it: China and India are on track as a result of economic growth ever increasing greenhouse gas emissions; the US is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and Russia has no savings plans. Under this overall impression, 11,000 scientists from 153 countries, including 871 researchers from German universities, are warning of a global "climate emergency".

Climate protection networking at the municipal level

More ambitious global climate protection agreements have recently also been promoted at the municipal level. Examples are the Global Covenant of Mayors, comprising 9,000 mayors, or the Under2Coalition of more than 200 local and regional governments, as well as the RE100 initiative , in which 2,000 companies have pledged to obtain 100 percent of their electricity from non-fossil sources by 2050. On the occasion of a coordination summit of such activities in San Francisco in 2018 , the report Global Climate Action from Cities, Regions and Business at the Climate Action Summit presented an extrapolation of the potential impact of such initiatives, which speaks of 15 to 23 billion tons of greenhouse gases that can be saved by 2030. This would allow the reductions envisaged by international agreements to be cut by a third.

Since 1990, more than 1,700 European cities and municipalities (as of June 2019) of all sizes have come together to form the Climate Alliance . Membership requires, among other things. the voluntary commitment to save a further 10% CO 2 emissions every 5 years .

Climate emergency

Since spring 2019, parliaments at all levels (nationally such as Great Britain and France, municipal such as Basel, Kiel and Konstanz) have been declaring the climate emergency. In doing so, they establish that there is a climate crisis . They also commission government and administrative levels to develop measures that go beyond the current state and promise to stop man-made global warming .


See also: Climate Policy - Germany

Germany has committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels by 2020, by 55% by 2030, by 70% by 2040 and by 80% to 95% by 2050. With the adoption of the Climate Action Plan 2050 in November 2016, Germany formulated the long-term strategy required by the Paris Climate Agreement and presented it to the United Nations. In 2015 the total greenhouse gas emissions amounted to around 908 million tons; In 1990 it was 1,248 million tons. The federal government wants to reduce Germany's emissions to 749 million tons by 2020. An emission reduction of 27% was achieved by 2015, so that achieving the target is rated as very difficult. It is also clear in the 2018 climate protection report on the Federal Government's Climate Protection Action Program 2020 that the goals will not be achieved.

Impending compensation payments due to insufficient emissions reduction

Germany would be obliged to limit emissions not only within the framework of EU emissions trading (ETS) at company level, but also through the EU burden sharing (Non-ETS) agreed for additional areas such as transport, building energy and agriculture and, in the event of non-fulfillment, to compensation payments.

A study of development plans from Frankfurt am Main , Munich and Stuttgart from 1990 to 2013 showed that the importance of climate protection is not yet recognized in all large cities.

From 2014 to 2017 there was an increase in emissions in the non-ETS area from 437 to 465 million tons with a flourishing economy, a growing population and an increase in vehicles. With the agreed further reductions in the permitted emissions from 2021 to 2030, according to estimates by the Öko-Institut, compensation payments of between five and thirty billion euros will likely be due in Germany by 2030, and according to estimates by Agora Energiewende even 30 to 60 billion euros.

Important measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions include improving energy efficiency and expanding renewable energies , which have been promoted since 1991. This was accompanied by a major change in the electricity mix . The share of renewable energies rose from 29 TWh in 1999 to 161 TWh in 2014, while electricity generation in nuclear power plants fell from 170 in 2000 to 97 TWh and coal electricity generation fell from 291 to 265 TWh.

In 2015, the primary energy consumption covered by renewable energies in Germany was 12.5% ​​of total consumption . The share of final energy consumption is not yet included in the preliminary data, but is usually higher. Renewable energies accounted for 32.6% of total electricity consumption, 13.2% for heating and cooling and 5.3% of total fuel consumption. In power generation, renewable energies are the most important energy source with a work performed of 195.9 TWh.

In 2015, according to preliminary data, power plants in Germany emitted around 312 million tons of carbon dioxide . The emission factor, i.e. H. the average carbon dioxide release was 535 g CO 2 / kWh; In 1990 it was still 761 g CO 2 / kWh. This reduced emissions per kWh from 1990 to 2015 by approx. 29%. This decline is due to the expansion of renewable energies and the greater efficiency of today's fossil-fuel power plants.

In agriculture, responsible for 72 million tons of carbon dioxide or 8.2% of total greenhouse gas emissions in Germany, Germany has committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 32.5% compared to 1990 levels by 2030, which was decided by the federal government in 2014 Action plan, among other things, through "more efficient fertilization, the use of manure and liquid manure in biogas plants and improved feeding, animal health and animal performance".

In a representative population survey by the Federal Environment Agency in 2018, only 14 percent of those questioned stated that the federal government is doing “enough” or “rather enough” for environmental and climate protection.

Package of measures by the Federal Government of September 20, 2019

Demonstration poster from September 20, 2019 next to a plaque on the back of the Reichstag building

On September 20, 2019, the federal government decided on a package of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which should add 54 billion euros to the federal budget by 2023. This includes a CO 2 price for the areas of transport and buildings of ten euros per tonne of CO 2 , which is to rise to 35 euros per tonne by 2025. Other measures include purchase premiums for electric cars and for the replacement of old oil heating systems , the reduction in value added tax on long-distance rail transport and a 10 percent reduction in fares, which is to be co-financed by an increase in the air traffic tax . Climate activists and environmental groups criticized the package, sometimes sharply, as a disappointing “sham package”. The director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Ottmar Edenhofer spoke of a "document of political discouragement". The climate targets for 2030 will certainly not be achieved. Edenhofer had considered an entry price of 50 euros per tonne of CO 2 necessary and a related increase in price to 130 euros by 2030. The package of measures for the Federation of German Industry is “not a big hit” , but there are important impulses and decisions to be taken. Two official government reports were published at the beginning of March 2020: Prognos produced a climate report for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Öko-Institut produced a report for the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety . Both studies come to the conclusion that the federal government's package of measures of September 20, 2019 will by far not be sufficient to achieve the planned emission reduction targets of the adopted climate law, and even less to achieve the Paris climate protection targets. The transport and building sectors are primarily responsible for this.

Non-governmental climate protection initiatives

The international climate protection agreements and the subsequent state climate protection measures are critically monitored by a large number of scientific observers and civil society actors. The focus is on both the compromises negotiated and often viewed as inadequate targets at the international level as well as the respective practical implementation at the national level. The high-profile formulation and bundling of such voices, often in connection with political actions, takes place, among other things, in environmental protection - related non-governmental organizations (NGOs or NGOs) such as Greenpeace , WWF , Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND) and Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU) or the Children's Association and Plant-for-the-Planet youth initiative .

Youth protest

Poster at a Fridays for Future demonstration in Berlin

Since August 2018, a movement of young people has been causing a sensation, which is committed to ensuring that (as the activists see) their future is not jeopardized by the hesitation of politicians in matters of climate protection. Representatives of the generation have the impression that politicians do not take sufficient account of how long young people are likely to live and are therefore not sufficiently interested in the period after 2050.

The movement, which in many countries calls itself Fridays for Future (FFF for short), but elsewhere also Youth Strike 4 Climate , uses primarily the method of the "climate strike ", i. H. Schoolchildren and students stay away (by the hour) on Fridays (in Belgium, Thursdays) from courses that they are actually obliged to attend. Instead, they take part in demonstrations. According to FFF Germany, more than 300,000 people demonstrated for the goals of the movement on March 15, 2019 in Germany alone. Worldwide, more than 1.6 million people are said to have participated in the demonstrations that day. The protest is organized by the pupils and students themselves, independently of environmental associations. At the second global climate strike on May 24, 2019, more than 1,350 protests were announced worldwide, in which, according to the organizers, 1.8 million people took part. According to the organizers, 320,000 people took to the streets in more than 200 cities in Germany. According to the organizers, 1.4 million people took part in the demonstrations in Germany alone at the third global climate strike on September 20, 2019.

The aim of the movement is to make politicians aware of grievances in climate policy and to get them to take quick and concrete measures for climate protection and ensure compliance with the Paris Agreement. The hard core of the “striking” pupils uses the school strike method as an instrument of civil disobedience .

Initiatives in climate research and science

The Scientists for Future logo features Ed Hawkins ' thermal strip

The global warming scenarios of global climate research, on which the Fridays for Future movement is based and which have been published for several decades, have triggered a high level of attention and solidarity effects among teachers from other scientific disciplines as a result of the worldwide youth protests. More than 26,800 scientists from Switzerland, Austria and Germany signed a statement under the heading: "The concerns of the young people demonstrating are justified." The scientists, who have come together under the name Scientists for Future , consider the protesters' concerns to be justified and well founded. From a scientific point of view, the current measures for climate, species, forest, marine and soil protection are far from sufficient. Several directors of research institutes are among the signatories.

In June 2019, this statement, supplemented by an analysis of the results and effects of the declaration, was published as a bilingual article in the journal GAIA . The fact that Fridays for Future calls for a faster end to greenhouse gas emissions for Germany than the IPCC globally is justified with climate justice . There are similar initiatives by Dutch and Belgian scientists.

Medical education

Top representatives of the medical profession took part in a meeting at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences on 23 April to communicate the consequences of climate change more clearly in the future, to increase the influence of doctors on health-promoting climate policy and to improve medical training in climate and environmental issues . September 2019. "Health is such an important good and climate change is such an important risk factor that we have to take on a pioneering role," emphasized Detlev Ganten , President of the World Health Summit . On the medical side, it is important to have more influence in the future, for example with regard to healthy food and means of transport. Peter Bobbert from the Marburger Bund also complained that the medical profession had not addressed the issue of climate change in the necessary way. In a paper by this largest medical association in Europe under the title Climate protection is health protection - the special responsibility of the medical profession states that in the course of global warming, the global south in particular is increasingly affected by the increase in infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever , but also increasingly from non-contagious diseases how cancer , diabetes and cardiovascular disease is affected. In Germany, due to the heat, more allergies , respiratory diseases and cancer can be expected.

The President of the German Medical Association, Klaus Reinhardt, sees his own failures in the organized medical profession as one of the reasons why the topic of climate change is currently not so much in focus. "The acceptance among the population to deal with climate change and to change behavior would certainly be greater against the background of the danger to their own health or that of their children." Frank Ulrich Montgomery , Chairman of the World Medical Association , does not see the doctors solely responsible to treat their patients, but also to intervene politically in the interests of climate protection, for example to reduce the health consequences of air traffic. The spectrum of diseases will change due to climate change in Germany; in skin cancer cases, for example, “Australian dimensions” are to be expected.

Positive side effects

Air pollution, such as here from a coal-fired power station, accounts for around eight million premature deaths each year

Since the switch from fossil fuels to low-carbon technologies reduces the emission of air pollutants and other particles that are harmful to health and the environment, measures for climate protection have a number of positive side effects. These include B. the improvement of the condition of ecosystems and human health , the protection of the biodiversity of the earth, greater availability of water resources , higher food security and better energy security with higher resilience of the energy system.

In a statement published in 2019, the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina came to the conclusion that a consistent climate protection policy will help "to improve climate protection, environmental protection, health and the common good", to reduce the growing generation conflict, to advance sustainable development in an international context, increase the quality of life and secure prosperity through innovations . A joint study by several academies of science from different countries also found that there are synergies between the fight against air pollution and climate protection, since they share the same causes and largely the same solutions. For example, improvements in energy efficiency , the expansion of renewable energies , the electrification of transport and many other climate protection strategies have led to both a reduction in CO 2 emissions and a reduction in air pollutants from combustion processes. In addition, most air pollutants would also have climatic effects.

According to a study published in Science in 2012, measures to reduce emissions that slow global warming by 0.5 ° C by 2050 could have positive effects not only on the climate, but also on human health , agriculture and the cryosphere . Lower ozone levels in the atmosphere would increase annual grain production by between 30 and 135 million tons, while avoiding between 700,000 and 4.7 million deaths from air pollution each year.

A study published in Energy and Environmental Science in 2015 quantified the effects of a complete switch to wind , water and solar energy for the United States of America and found that this energy transition currently prevented around 62,000 premature deaths from air pollution per year. In 2050 there would be around 46,000 deaths, which would save around $ 600 billion in healthcare costs a year. This would correspond to around 3.6% of the American gross domestic product in 2014. In addition, compared to a conventional energy scenario, around 3.3 trillion dollars in climate damage would be saved annually in 2050 and around 2 million more jobs would be created net than would be lost in the conventional energy industry . This study puts the financial benefits for US citizens in the year 2050 at around 10,000 dollars per year (2013 dollars), with around 260 dollars in savings due to the somewhat lower energy costs, around 1,500 dollars in savings in air pollutants and around 8,300 dollars in avoided Climate change damage.

A review article published in The Lancet in 2015 concluded that climate change has the potential to reverse health advances through economic development. However, combating it could be the greatest opportunity of the 21st century for improving public health worldwide. Many climate protection measures would also help directly against damage to health, poverty and global inequality , which would enable states to strengthen public health and the well-being of the population and, last but not least, to reduce the costs of health care.

According to a study also published in The Lancet in 2016, ambitious climate protection measures would at the same time mitigate the negative effects of poor nutrition as a result of droughts , etc. According to this, with unchecked climate change, around 529,000 deaths are to be expected annually worldwide as a result of poor nutrition, in particular the decline in fruit and vegetable consumption . With a strict climate protection program (implementation of the representative concentration path RCP2.6), however, the number of additional deaths could be limited to around 154,000.

Economic benefits and costs

On the one hand, climate protection measures cause costs, but at the same time reduce the climate damage that occurs and thus save follow-up costs. The total costs of global climate protection cannot be clearly estimated; Significantly greater uncertainties arise when quantifying the follow-up costs of unchecked climate change and inhibit the necessary investments. Nonetheless, authors from the German Institute for Economic Research estimate that effective and rapid climate protection will make around 200 trillion US dollars in consequential damage avoidable by 2050. According to a study published in Nature in 2018, global warming by 4 degrees by the year 2100 would result in economic losses of more than 30% of the gross domestic product per capita; a temperature increase of 2.5 to 3 degrees would result in decreases of around 15 to 25%. The authors identified the limitation of global warming to 1.5 degrees as the economically most advantageous climate protection path. This would probably save more than 20 trillion US dollars compared to limiting global warming to 2 degrees, while the additional costs of this sharper path would only be around 300 billion dollars.

Even if the costs of transforming the energy system in the direction of a climate-friendly energy system ( energy turnaround ) are high, a policy of non-action would result in significantly higher costs, especially since the costs for adapting the infrastructure and social issues to climate change are disproportionately high with rising temperatures increase. It is therefore of great importance to internalize the external costs arising from the environmental impact of fossil energy generation. In 2013, these amounted to $ 4.9 trillion, or more than $ 150 per ton of carbon dioxide . A study published in 2018 put the so-called “social costs of carbon” at more than $ 400 per ton, which is more than twice as high as the previously determined values ​​of around $ 150 to $ 200 per ton. Converted to the emissions in 2017, this corresponds to damage of more than 16 trillion US dollars per year.

The German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina states that it is part of a “transparent climate policy” to “openly communicate that a climate and energy turnaround is not to be had for free, but that the social costs of“ business as usual ”by far Exceed investments in preventive measures ". In particular, it is important to communicate “which risks and losses to nature, the common good and quality of life” are inherent in a policy of “business as usual”. Technologically, all the prerequisites are in place to build a climate-neutral energy system. In addition, this energy turnaround is an ethical obligation, "because an enlightened, modern knowledge society is obliged to deal responsibly with the foundations of life for future generations," which also includes the preservation of intact ecosystems.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC) did not prepare a cost-benefit analysis for specific climate scenarios in its 5th assessment report, but only assessed the economic, technical and institutional framework conditions of the various scenarios. The costs incurred to achieve the two-degree target were put at 0.06% of the annual consumption growth rate. The earlier greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, the lower the costs of climate protection. The IPCC's lack of a cost-benefit analysis was also criticized. Among other things, Olav Hohmeyer, based on the IPCC figures, presented a study for Germanwatch in which he compared the climate protection costs of around 5 billion euros for 2050 with benefits of around 16 billion euros. As a result, the benefits would triple the costs of climate protection by the middle of the century. The values ​​result mainly from the reduced gross national product without climate protection measures as a result of climate damage and air pollution.

A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change in 2016 showed that with an ambitious climate protection policy that is suitable to achieve the two-degree target, the monetary benefits in the form of avoided deaths from air pollution are very likely to exceed the costs of climate protection measures. Including long-term benefits from avoided climate damage, the economic benefits of such a climate protection policy would be around 5 to 10 times the costs.

A study by Caio Koch-Weser , former Vice President of the World Bank, on behalf of the UN came to the conclusion in 2014 that climate protection makes economic sense and can stimulate economic growth. According to the experts, the focus of climate protection measures must be on the rapid expansion of renewable energies, the expansion of public transport, ideally with emission-free drives, and the revitalization of fallow agricultural areas to ensure food.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Climate protection  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Climate Change 2007. Mitigation of Climate Change . Fourth assessment report by the IPCC . Last accessed on November 27, 2015.
  2. a b Sabine Mathesius et al .: Long-term response of oceans to CO2 removal from the atmosphere . In: Nature Climate Change . tape 5 , 2015, p. 1107-1113 , doi : 10.1038 / nclimate2729 .
  3. ^ A b Peter U. Clark et al .: Consequences of twenty-first-century policy for multi-millennial climate and sea-level change . In: Nature Climate Change . tape 6 , 2016, p. 360-369 , doi : 10.1038 / NCLIMATE2923 .
  4. a b c Joeri Rogelj u a. .: Paris Agreement climate proposals need a boost to keep warming well below 2 ° C . In: Nature . tape 534 , 2016, p. 631–639 , doi : 10.1038 / nature18307 .
  5. Ottmar Edenhofer , Susanne Kadner, Jan Minx: Is the two-degree target desirable and can it still be achieved? The contribution of science to a political debate. In: Jochem Marotzke , Martin Stratmann (Hrsg.): The future of the climate. New insights, new challenges. A report from the Max Planck Society. Beck, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-406-66968-2 , pp. 69–92, here p. 76.
  6. IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, RK Pachauri and LA Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, page 5.
  7. ^ H. Damon Matthews, Ken Caldeira : Stabilizing climate requires near-zero emissions . In: Geophysical Research Letters . tape 35 , 2008, doi : 10.1029 / 2007GL032388 . ; also Kai Niebert: Climate change cannot be negotiated with. In: Jörg Sommer, Michael Müller (Ed.): Below 2 degrees? What the world climate treaty really brings . Stuttgart 2016, 255–265, pp. 260f.
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