Petersberg Climate Dialogue: Johan Rockström addresses global leaders on climate action

14.05.2019 - "Science is clear: If we want to stabilize our climate, we need a fundamental change in all sectors of society. Because the bar is high: We need to halve our emissions every decade from now on. Only in this way can we attain zero net emissions by the middle of this century”, Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told international leaders on the occasion of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. The two-day event is one of the most high-level events in terms of climate policy on the German and international political agenda, bringing together ministers and high-level representatives from 35 countries. The conference was co-hosted by the German Environment Minister, Svenja Schulze, and her Chilean counterpart, Carolina Schmidt, who is also President of the next UN Climate Change Conference in Santiago de Chile (COP 25).
Petersberg Climate Dialogue: Johan Rockström addresses global leaders on climate action
Svenja Schulze, Angela Merkel and the Chilean Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Photo: BMU/photothek/Thomas Koehler.

The participants of the informal meeting discussed how to “fulfil the promise of Paris”, the title read in reference to the Paris Climate Accord agreed to in 2015. Unanimously, the global leaders called 2019 a decisive year for the worldwide fight against global warming and emissions. Remarkably, German Chancellor Merkel reconfirmed the German target of becoming CO2-neutral by the year 2050. This echoes what Johan Rockström has long stressed, for example in his concept of the Carbon Law. “The challenge is huge, but we can still land on the safe side. The ideas are out there, the willingness for social transformation is getting ever greater, also thanks to the friendly reminder by the Fridays for Future. What we need now is policy makers on all levels and in all corners of the globe to roll up their sleeves and keep the climate promise of Paris", Rockström concludes.

The figures say: We must now halve our CO2 emissions every ten years. Then we can achieve zero emissions below the line by the middle of the century," commented PIK Director Ottmar Edenhofer in media such the Rheinische Post. "A concrete step towards this in Germany could be the introduction of fair and effective CO2 pricing combined with fair social compensation. Recent surveys show that 1/3 of Germans are already in favour of such a CO2 tax. For the introduction of a new tax this is actually a surprisingly high rate. Now politics must pick up the thread - in Berlin, in Brussels and worldwide. Because if we continue as before, it will become really expensive: Instead of the predictable contribution of a CO2 tax, we will then face dizzying costs for climate damage."

Weblink to Johan Rockström (2017) A roadmap for rapid decarbonisation:

Weblink to a dossier on CO2 pricing by Edenhofer and colleagues from PIK/MCC:

Weblink to more information on the Petersberg Climate Dialogue Series: