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Sustainable change needs a new social contract

04/07/2011 - To achieve the transition to an “age of efficiency and renewables”, a scientific advisory council calls for nothing less but a reconstruction of civil society. This can only be achieved through a new kind of interaction between governments and citizens, with citizens being more involved in political decisions. As stated today by the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) during the presentation of its flagship report “World in Transition – A Social Contract for Sustainability”, massive investments in energy transformation, changes in consumption habits and the imposition of global fees on greenhouse gas emissions will be necessary in order to meet the challenge.

“Humanity´s domicile is shabby and needs renovation”, said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, WBGU chair and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. „We need a revolution for sustainability.“ Dirk Messner, WBGU co-chair, pointed out the enormous costs climate impact will entail if we do not act immediately. The flagship report, which was submitted to Annette Schavan, federal minister of education and research, and Norbert Röttgen, federal minister for the environment, shows the possibilities for a sustainable change and defines passages of development for such a “Great Transformation”, for example in the field of energy, land use and urbanization.

Renewable energies and electricity networks need to expand, and the demand for energy needs to be stabilized through more efficient usage. Furthermore, the report suggests to implement climate protection in the constitution and to appoint ombudsmen to secure the interests of future generations. According to the experts, climate protection is possible without nuclear energy, and there will not be energy shortages if there is a well-regulated nuclear phaseout.

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