From Berlin to New York: United in Science

23/09/2019 - Millions of people all around the globe crowded the streets last Friday, demanding rapid action from policy makers to counter climate risks. The Fridays for Future movement calls upon humanity to "unite behind the science". That very same day, the German government adopted a climate policy package relying on carbon pricing expertise provided by PIK Director Ottmar Edenhofer and colleagues. Yet, the policy package is too weak to meet the climate targets, the expert says. Currently, heads of state are meeting at the UN climate summit – German Chancellor Angela Merkel is one of them. Again, science provides the facts needed for sound decisions. Among other input, PIK Director Johan Rockström presented an "Exponential Roadmap" to sustainability in New York with colleagues. Climate stabilization is both necessary and possible, the science shows.
From Berlin to New York: United in Science
From Berlin to New York. Photos: Dominik Butzmann, ARD/ZDF Screenshots, EAT-Lancet

The policy package decided by the German government is  “a document of political despondency”, PIK Director Ottmar Edenhofer said in a statement. “Germany will not be able to meet its climate targets with this package,” he said in the “Anne Will Talkshow” on German national TV broadcaster ARD, discussing the new policy package with Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier (CDU) and the leader of the German Green Party, Annalena Baerbock. The proposed price starting at 10 Euros per ton of CO2, rising to 35 Euros by 2025, is too low to affect consumers’ behavior and industry investments into clean innovation, the economist Edenhofer argues. By contrast, research indicates that the entry price should be rather 50 Euros per ton of CO2 and rise to 130 Euros within a decade. Furthermore, the compensation for low-income households that is necessary to assure a fair and just transformation, Edenhofer said, is not well designed in the government package.

From the experts’ report on carbon pricing to the German climate policy package

“The whole package lacks courage,” Edenhofer told the New York Times, “the commitment into the future is missing.” With their report ‘Options for a Carbon Pricing Reform” published in July, Edenhofer and colleagues at PIK and Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) were major contributors of the expertise on Carbon Pricing commissioned by Chancellor Angela Merkel and provided by the German Council of Economic Experts for the so-called Climate Cabinet consultations proceeding the meeting on Friday. Edenhofer spoke at several political events after publishing the report, like the workshop on climate protection by German CDU party, Edenhofer also discussed the report and its implications for an effective and fair carbon pricing scheme with German YouTuber Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim as part of his efforts to include a broader audience to the discussion. So far the video has more than 640,000 views.

At Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, PIK Director Johan Rockström was one of the key speakers addressing the enormous demonstration organized by the Fridays For Future Movement. "The People's Climate March in New York 2015 has for a long time been the reference point for citizens’ engagement for climate action - Berlin 2019 will probably go down in history as a new all-time high,” he said. “With over 200,000 people calling out for science-based action on Climate, together with million others across the world, the 20th September is probably the world's single largest manifestation ever in human history. Could this be the social tipping point the world needs? Perhaps. One thing is for sure though, the loud and clear voice cannot be neglected, and we are very likely only seeing the beginning."

From the climate marches  to the UN Climate Action Summit in New York

Opened with a UN Youth Summit this weekend, leaders from politics, business and civil society will announce their plans to confront climate change this week at the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in New York. António Guterres stressed: "Science informs governments in their decision-making and commitments. I urge leaders to heed these facts, unite behind the science and take ambitious, urgent action to halt global heating and set a path towards a safer, more sustainable future for all" with regard to the report "United in Science", that was published at the eve of the summit.

With the landmark report the world’s leading climate science organisations have joined forces to provide a scientific synthesis on the gap between agreed targets to tackle global warming and the actual reality. The high-level synthesis report of the latest climate science information was convened by the Science Advisory Group of the UN Climate Summit and authored by scientists from the Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Global Atmosphere Watch, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Global Carbon Project, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Future Earth, Earth League and the Global Framework for Climate Services. PIK Directors Johan Rockström and Ottmar Edenhofer are among the authors. The 28-page report "United in Science" includes details on the state of the climate and presents trends in the emissions and atmospheric concentrations of the main greenhouse gases. It highlights the urgency of fundamental socio-economic transformations in key sectors such as land use and energy in order to avert dangerous global temperature increase with potentially irreversible impacts. It also examines tools to support both mitigation and adaptation.

Johan Rockström, who presented the report in a keynote, is also a speaker at several other events in New York. Jointly with other eminent experts, he presented the recently published Exponential Roadmap Report, outlining how to accelerate the 36 most viable solutions required to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030. “While this scale of transformation is unprecedented, the speed is not,” Rockström says. “This is now a race against time, but businesses and even entire industries have made many significant transitions in less than 10 years,” he adds. He is also a speaker on a call for a Planetary Emergency, presented at the Leaders Event for Nature and People, organized by WWF as a high-profile event on the evening after the UN Climate Summit. Hosted by and for Heads of State and Government, the meeting provides opportunity for leaders to discuss and publicly support a Declaration on Nature and People in 2020.

Weblink to the report "United in Science":

Weblink to the full programme of the UN Climate Action Summit:

Weblink to the report "Options for a Carbon Pricing Reform" by Edenhofer and colleagues:

Weblink to Scientists for Future, where several scientists from PIK are involved: