Fresh Impulses for Climate Change Policy in Germany | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 13.02.2007
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Fresh Impulses for Climate Change Policy in Germany

The UN's latest alarming report on climate change has consequences for Germany. The government's scientific advisory board for global environmental change has recommended ways to tackle the problem.

Coal-powered plants are a large contributor to CO2 emissions

Coal-powered plants are a large contributor to CO2 emissions

It's not too late for Germany to tackle the problem of global climate change, the country's scientific advisory board for global change said in a report issued Tuesday.

Margareta Kulessa, a member of the advisory board, said despite global warming, a dangerous climate change can still be prevented if steps are taken now.

"That means limiting the warming to less than two degrees," she said. "To achieve that, by 2050 we'll need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions at least by half as compared to 1990 levels."

Promoting change

Frankreich UN-Klima-Bericht vorgestellt in Paris

Scientists gave a bleak view on climate change at a Paris conference this month

During its G8 presidency, Germany said it wants to promote a global shift in the use of energy.

Though they agree with other experts in saying the United States in particular must drastically cut its emissions, German government advisors also recommend that major developing countries -- Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa -- be encouraged to cooperate on technological development projects.

"In my view, this process will only take place if important industrialized states, and above all important regions of the world, show they're taking ecological modernization seriously," said Michael Müller, German environment ministry state secretary.

"They can then put pressure on other countries to justify their actions," he said.

Renewable energies

Sigmar Gabriel zu Klimaschutz

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel

The scientists have appealed to the German government to increase investments in research on renewable energies and energy efficiency tenfold by the year 2020.

However, the scientists believe politicians are not the only ones who need to take action.

Kulessa said the authors of the report welcome the willingness of the German aeronautics industry to give up its negative attitude towards trading air pollution rights.

"It's very important that the emission rights be controlled so rigidly that flying becomes considerably more expensive," said Kulessa, adding that people will then be encouraged to resort to other forms of transportation.

Compensation fees

The entire German government intends to pay a climate protection compensation fee for official trips by air and otherwise.

At the suggestion of Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, the scheme could also help finance climate-friendly energy generation in Africa, for example.

Fernsehen total

Switching to a low-power TV could save tons in CO2 emissions

However, drastically reducing the number of flights between the two government locations in Bonn and Berlin is not under consideration, a government spokesman said.

Promoting awareness

The latest UN climate report has also triggered reactions in the business world.

Germany's biggest electronics retail chains, MediaMarkt and Saturn, plan to now inform their customers about the amount of electricity television sets consume.

"We intend to continue to make our contribution to combating climate change that goes beyond what's legally required and do something for the protection of the environment," said Bernhard Taubenberger, spokesman for Media-Saturn-Holding, which runs both MediaMarkt and Saturn.

Environmentalists say that by using low-energy television sets in Germany, the CO2 emissions equal to those produced by a city of 300,000 inhabitants each year could be prevented.

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