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“The world in 2050”: Mercator Climate Lecture with economists Sachs and Edenhofer

06/01/2016 – More than 1000 people attended the 2016 Mercator Climate Lecture "The World in 2050 - Towards Sustainable Development and Deep Decarbonization" in Berlin on Wednesday. Top US-economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor on Sustainable Development for the United Nations, gave a much-applauded keynote. This was followed by an intense discussion with Ottmar Edenhofer, Chief Economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Professor at Technische Universität (TU) Berlin. The lecture is a joint project by Stiftung Mercator, Technische Universität Berlin, and PIK. The spectators in the Auditorium Maximum - in fact a mix of students and experts from business, politics, NGO and science – was joined by a worldwide audience following the event via livestream.
“The world in 2050”: Mercator Climate Lecture with economists Sachs and Edenhofer

Jeff Sachs and Ottmar Edenhofer debating, moderated by Melissa Eddy. Photo: PIK

“We cannot achieve sustainable development without tackling climate change,” said Sachs. The Sustainable Development Goals that he helped to bring about, and that now have been adopted by almost all countries worldwide, include climate action. “We have to get carbon emissions to zero – and governments have to say how. We cannot leave this to the market,” he stated. Former US-President John F. Kennedy “said we can put a man on the moon. That’s the spirit we need to achieve sustainable development! (…) We're extremely productive, the world's economical problem is solved. But we let people die."

Ottmar Edenhofer pointed out how climate policies could indeed help combatting poverty. “CO2 pricing does three great things,” he said. “Incentivizing clean technology. Penalizing fossil fuel use. And creating revenues.” Theses revenues might be used to provide for instance access to clean water to all of humanity. Referring to the SDG and climate stabilization, Edenhofer concluded: “United they stand – divided they fall.”

Melissa Eddy, Berlin correspondent of the New York Times, moderated the event, and it was opened and ended by Professor Christian Thomsen, President of TU Berlin.

Ottmar Edenhofer, who is also Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, started the lecture series in 2009; Stiftung Mercator supports this year’s event. Previous speakers include Lord Nicholas Stern from the London School of Economics, Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme Achim Steiner, and bestseller author Tim Jackson from the University of Surrey.


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