Science Platform Climate Protection: The German government's Corona economic stimulus package needs a climate impact assessment

07/09/2020 - On July 9, 2020, the Steering Committee of the German Science Platform Climate Protection (WPKS) presented and discussed with State Secretaries Jochen Flasbarth (BMU) and Wolf-Dieter Lukas (BMBF) a statement on climate policy requirements for the design of economic stimulus packages in the Corona crisis. Eight renowned scientists from various disciplines coordinate the tasks of the Science Platform Climate Protection in the Steering Committee. In doing so, they support the Federal Government in the implementation and further development of the Climate Protection Plan 2050 and thus contribute to achieving national, European and international climate protection goals.
Science Platform Climate Protection: The German government's Corona economic stimulus package needs a climate impact assessment
Sabine Schlacke and Ottmar Edenhofer are chairs of the steering committee of “Science Platform Climate Protection”. Photos: WWU-Benedikt Weischer; photothek

With this statement, the WPKS, which was founded last year, provides an initial climate policy assessment of economic policy in the corona crisis. It thus initiates the dialogue with the government and supports the social debate on economic cycle policy with scientific facts. "The measures for implementing the economic stimulus package such as loans or other financial support must be subjected to a climate impact assessment", explains Sabine Schlacke, one of the two chairs of the steering committee and professor for environmental law at the University of Münster. "Along with the Climate Protection Program 2030, the Corona Economic Stimulus Package is the most important set of measures in terms of climate policy for this legislative period and thus falls under the audit mandate which the Federal Government has given to the Climate Protection Science Platform."

In its initial assessment, the steering committee welcomes the fact that climate protection has been taken into account as an important goal in the economic stimulus package and that a large number of measures in the so-called "Future package" in particular take this objective into account. However, the conclusion for the economic stimulus and crisis management package is not as positive, because there, climate protection and sustainability are only selective criteria. "In order to provide a strong steering effect and investment incentives for climate protection in the medium and long term, the economic stimulus package should have been consistently examined for its compatibility with the German and European climate protection goals," explains Ottmar Edenhofer, chairman of the steering committee and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). "Unfortunately, this has not yet been done."

The steering committee emphasizes that the investments made possible by the economic stimulus package may conflict with the long-term climate goals of the Federal Government due to a flawed incentive structure. "In order to steer the investments made possible by the economic stimulus package along the lines desired by climate policy, a comprehensive reform of European CO2 trading and of national energy taxes and levies is needed," explains Ottmar Edenhofer the steering committee's demand.

The authors propose an in-depth examination in three steps: First, the economic stimulus package as a whole should be subjected to a quick climate test with regard to its effect on the goal of the Climate Protection Act to reduce greenhouse gases by 55 percent compared to 1990. Secondly, all individual measures are to be subject to an ex-ante evaluation prior to their implementation, which would examine their respective effects with regard to the climate protection targets. Thirdly, a long-term, institutionalized monitoring of the individual measures is necessary.

The steering committee emphasizes that the economic stimulus package must pursue economic, socio-political and climate policy objectives in equal measure. The distributive effect of the measures and participation opportunities are crucial for the public assessment of the package and thus for its medium - and long-term effectiveness. The Science Platform itself has also taken up these goals: "We want to develop our recommendations to the Federal Government in close cooperation with civil society," explains Sabine Schlacke. "The Climate Protection Action Alliance offers an excellent platform for this."

Over the next few months, the Science Platform Climate Protection will shape the evaluation and discussion process on the climate policy impact of the economic stimulus package and present options for action for an ambitious national climate policy.

The steering committee's statement will be available for download from Thursday, July 9, 12:00 PM, on the DLR website: