Energy system transformation is key to better climate action

Flooded fields an forests in Amazonia

Flooded fiels in Amazonia. Picture: Cyro Jose Soares

The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes it clear that the internationally agreed target of limiting temperature change to a maximum of 2°C can still be met through ambitious climate policy. The scientists have illustrated a range of options on how this can be achieved. Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks and Federal Research Minister Johanna Wanka consider the fundamental transformation of our energy supply system to be the key to better climate action. They stressed that a global energy system transformation based on renewables as well as energy and resource efficiency was what was needed. Research and development are providing the necessary blueprints for this.

The IPCC presented the third part of its report in Berlin today. According to the report, further delays in implementing ambitious mitigation measures would drastically reduce the number of technological options available and significantly increase mitigation costs.

Federal Environment Minister Hendricks commented: "We must do everything we can to show our determination and leadership when it comes to climate policy. Germany can play an important role if we show the world by way of example that mitigation can work in an industrialised country. At national level we want to find the most efficient climate solutions in all areas to reach our ambitious goals. At international level it is important that we use this year and next year to pave the way for a binding global post-2020 agreement. Europe must play a leading role in this process. This is why we want to set an EU-wide climate target of at least 40 percent by 2030 as quickly as possible. The IPCC report shows that renewable energies and energy efficiency are the key building blocks of effective climate action. We therefore need separate targets for these two areas as well."

Germany has set itself the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels, with a 40 percent reduction to be achieved by 2020.

Federal Research Minister Wanka stated: "The report by the IPCC scientists shows that climate research and research on energy system transformation must not only be continued but also intensified." Since the last IPCC report was published in 2007 the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has massively stepped up climate research, in particular via the framework programme "Research for Sustainable Development" (FONA). In 2013 alone the BMBF invested 750 million euros in climate and energy research. Priority is given to projects on avoiding CO2 emissions, for example storage technologies such as heat storage or batteries, materials research or using CO2 as a resource. At the same time the BMBF is developing national and international strategies for adapting to the impacts of climate change. "We are taking on responsibility, especially in regions that are strongly affected by climate change", said Wanka. In cooperation with ten West African and five South African countries, science service centres on climate change and land use are being established in Africa. The BMBF is also focusing on unresolved research issues, such as cloud distribution and ocean carbon storage. "We will advance our research in areas where there are still knowledge gaps", the Federal Research Minister added.

The report is the last of three volumes of the 5th IPCC assessment report and presents options for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Hundreds of scientists, including 16 researchers from Germany, contributed to the report. Following Sweden and Japan, Germany hosted its first IPCC meeting with participants from approximately 120 countries. The first part of the report addressed the scientific basis of climate change whilst the second part highlighted the impacts of climate change, vulnerabilities and adaptation options. The IPCC's fifth assessment cycle will be concluded with the synthesis report, which will be adopted at the end of October 2014 in Copenhagen.