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Researchers support Berlin on its way to climate neutrality

04/02/2013 - Berlin aims to be climate neutral in the year 2050 – how this goal can be reached is to be shown by a team of experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), on behalf of the Berlin Senate. “Europe and the whole world is monitoring the Berlin metropolis,” PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber says. "If the German capital is pioneering in climate protection, this is a contribution to maintain the two-degrees-limit in regard to global warming – to achieve this, states have to act as well as bold local authorities." The Berlin Senator for Urban Development and the Environment, Michael Müller, highlights the significance of this feasibility study: "Berlin has to be a highly energy-efficient and modern city and make use of its opportunities for innovation and investments! This is not only to contribute to the energy transition in Germany. We want to live up to our responsibility for the future and lead by example."
Researchers support Berlin on its way to climate neutrality

Solar roof in Berlin (Foto: Berliner Energieagentur)

Until the end of the year, the researchers are going to map out scenarios for the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions in the city, aiming at a reduction of per capita emissions from roundabout six tons a year today to less than two tons a year. This amount would fit into the goal to limit global warming to less than two degrees. To achieve this, significant improvements in the energy efficiency of buildings are necessary as well as a massive integration of renewable energies and the conversion of the transport sector. A workshop with various stakeholders is starting in April.

“Berlin is a city of renters, with a rather average economic power in relation to the other German states,” PIK sociologist and head of the feasibility study, Fritz Reusswig, says. “Therefore it is crucial to point out practicable and socially acceptable paths to climate neutrality for Berlin. This is an exciting challenge for our team.” PIK is coordinating the pool of eight involved parties and will be responsible for the fields private households and consumption. “Without the active involvement of citizens, climate-neutrality cannot be achieved,” Reusswig says.

“We will have a perspective beyond Berlin itself in mind to develop our analysis and recommendations,” Bernd Hirschl from the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) says, who is deputy head of the project. “A climate neutral Berlin will cooperate with the state of Brandenburg on different levels. We want to emphasize the economic advantages of climate neutrality”.

Senator Müller also aims at reaching beyond the feasibility study itself. “We are working on an idea for a Berlin legislation for the energy transformation. We know this is an ambitious plan that needs visioning as well as the whole city’s support. The feasibility study is an important milestone on the way to this legislation.” PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber stressed the model character of the project: “Our institute analyses the impacts of climate change for the earth system – and develops solutions for very tangible problems and situations all the same. Two years ago we were advisors in climate mitigation and adaption for Brandenburg’s capital Potsdam as our home. We are glad to contribute our expertise for the German capital as well.”j

Members of the consortium headed by PIK are:

  • the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW), that worked on the “Energiekonzept 2020” for Berlin already
  • the energy consulting office BLS Energieplan
  • the Berlin office for urban development UmbauStadt
  • the Innovation Centre for Mobility and Societal Change (InnoZ) Berlin, with a focus on the transport sector
  • the Potsdam office Aerial image, Environment and Planning (LUP), which focuses on the potential of open spaces
  • the landscape architect office Becker, Giesecke, Mohren, Richards (bgmr)
  • the laywers office HFK advocates, that will map out the legal framework for the path to climate neutrality.


Registration for the workshops: Five parallel groups on energy supply, buildings, transport, economy and private households/consumption will meet on April 15th at InnoZ on the EUREF campus in Berlin Schöneberg (Torgauer Str.12-15). The event is public, due to limited space registration is needed. Please contact

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