Berlin can be climate-neutral by 2050: Feasibility Study
Both the environment and the Berlin citizens could profit from an energy transformation. (Photo: Thinkstock)
On behalf of the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment, a consortium led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) analyzed scenarios and developed recommendations how to achieve climate-neutrality. The study will be presented to the public today in the Berlin town-hall by Michael Müller, Senator for Urban Development and Environment, and Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of PIK.
When in 2011 the Berlin governing coalition decided to make Berlin a climate-neutral city by 2050, a report was needed to analyze the feasibility of this political goal and map out possible pathways to achieve it. A team of eight research and advising institutes led by PIK now made strategic suggestions after conducting a comprehensive analysis and scenario computing. Partners of PIK are the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW), the energy consulting office BLS Energieplan, the Berlin office for urban development UmbauStadt, the Innovation Centre for Mobility and Societal Change (InnoZ), the Potsdam office Aerial Image, Environment and Planning LUP, the landscape architect office bgmr and the lawyers office HFK advocates.
The main results of the study are presented today in a public event in the Berlin town-hall by Dr. Fritz Reusswig (PIK, project management) and Prof. Dr. Bernd Hirschl (IÖW, deputy project management).
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, PIK director, highlights the strategic significance of the feasibility study for the institute as well as the positive message Berlin’s climate target is sending out to the world. “If we want to avoid dangerous climate change, we have to act quickly and determined. Cities have a special global responsibility, as most greenhouse-gas emissions originate from urban living and urban economic activity. I appreciate Germany’s capital taking up responsibility. With the feasibility study, Berlin can demonstrate that a modern metropolis is able to reduce its CO2 footprint to a climate-friendly extent. Science has identified possible pathways. Now it is up to Berlin to tread these pathways”.
The Berlin Senator for Urban Development and Environment, Michael Müller, highlights the important role of the feasibility study for Berlin’s future energy and climate politics. “The debates on energy and climate politics have intensified over the last few months – let me just mention the public discussion on the creation of a municipal utility and the re-municipalization of the energy networks. Both are important bases for a climate neutral Berlin as well.” The feasibility study shows that it is possible to achieve this goal, and describes possible pathways for the development of the sectors of the city relevant for emissions based on different scenarios.
“Our numbers show surprisingly clear that, if Berlin decides on the transformation, in the end all will profit – the environment as well as the people in the city,” Fritz Reusswig from PIK, who led the study, says. “Nonetheless, this requires a big effort.” The most important sphere of activity is the buildings sector. In the future, heating would have to be generated more from natural gas and biomass than from coal or oil. An increase of the regenerative part in natural gas (i.e. by surplus electricity) therefore plays a major role. In the power sector, solar energy will be a key technology. With an improvement in energy efficiency, Berlin would even be able to generate more electricity than it needs. By 2050, Berlin could thus be a net exporter of mostly regenerative electricity. Lignite from Brandenburg would not be needed anymore, but regional wind energy in the winter. The second most important sector is transport. Different transport vehicles and systems have to be cross-linked better. This also includes an increase of electric vehicles to achieve the climate target.
“The transformation of the energy system would mean investments that could strengthen the Berlin economy considerably,” says Bernd Hirschl from IÖW. The study also numbers the remarkable local effects for value creation and employment by a shift to climate neutrality of the Berlin energy industry. Depending on the scenario, until 2050, regional economic effects of 67 to 138 million euro a year could be generated.
Senator Michael Müller emphasizes that the study picks up on the inter-relations of ecologic, economic and social aspects. Michael Müller: “I really appreciate that the consortium led by PIK dealt sensitively with the affordability of important measures – especially in regard to energy related modernization and renovation and the development of rent progression in our city.”
Given the long-term character of the goal to become climate neutral, Senator Müller also welcomes suggestions for flagship projects and measures, which can be initiated today. “This supports our efforts to get under way with new measures even before the integrated energy and climate concept is at hand, while the development of the concept will start this year.”
The feasibility study will be available here (in German): http://www.stadtentwicklung.berlin.de/umwelt/klimaschutz/studie_klimaneutrales_berlin/