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"We must reduce CO2 emissions rapidly"

11/17/2017 - The negotiations at the UN Climate Conference and the exploratory talks in Berlin on forming a new government are about to be concluded. On this issue, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts (PIK), and Ottmar Edenhofer, PIK´s Chief Economist and Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) published statements.

"We have seen a strong symbolism in Bonn – Germany, together with and on behalf of Fiji, has organised the climate summit: a rich country for a poor country, a country with a great responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions in the past for a country that is not responsible for causing global warming, but might literally drown because of rising sea levels due to human-made climate change. Yet to make sure that this is not purely symbolic, Germany must now reduce its CO2 emissions rapidly. Applauding to those affected by climate change as long as they are on the stage built for them and then continuing to burn coal would be a disgusting lie. This must be the benchmark for the results of the coalition negotiations in Berlin," said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.

Ottmar Edenhofer added: "The world is in a coal trap – and the UN Climate Change Conference has not changed that. The coal trap looks like this: from one side we are being pressurized by the sheer mass of available coal which is cheap in price, but the world will have to pay for it dearly in terms of climate risks, health threats and damages to our economies. Because from the other side, the emissions of this dirtiest of all fuels are pushing onto us. Humankind must free itself from this coal trap if it wants to limit the costs of climate change.

Three things can help: first, the dialogue process launched at the conference and referred to as Talanoa in Fiji must not only aim to improve greenhouse gas reduction targets, but bring forward tangible policies to achieve these targets. Secondly, we need effective pricing of CO2 worldwide; pioneers such as the EU must start with a minimum price in 2018. Thirdly, Germany should change its energy taxation in a socially responsible manner during this parliamentary term of the Bundestag. Currently, clean electricity and gas which is at least not that climate-damaging are being taxed at a higher rate than dirty lignite, which is absurd from the perspective of economic research.

The results of coalition talks must be measured against this – we simply have to get out of coal, we need to reform emissions trading and energy taxes. In the end, this is what serves our economy best. Rebuilding our energy system offers enormous opportunities for modernization. From power generation from sun and wind, to smarter power grids and storage, to households, it's all about the digitalization that has been called for by so many."

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