German climate protection philosophy

Power Efficiency Guide

Ultimate Guide to Power Efficiency

Get Instant Access

Both in the international process and in Europe, Germany will remain a front-runner in climate change policies. Under the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC, 1997), Germany has agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 21 per cent by 2012 compared to 1990, and is now well on the way to accomplishing this goal. Accordingly, for 2020, Germany is aiming at ambitious emissions reductions: Germany will reduce our greenhouse gases by 30 per cent, or even by 40 per cent in the case of similar ambitious commitments by the other industrialized countries and the newly industrializing countries.

However, the implementation of such goals requires a fundamental modernization of our industrial society. It requires the transition from the old fossil-based energy industry with high energy consumption levels to a modern low-carbon society based on renewable energies and high energy efficiency - in other words, nothing less than a third industrial revolution.

To meet this end, economic growth must be decoupled from the emission of greenhouse gases. Furthermore, current emission levels must be reduced even further. As a crucial framework condition, we need an international agreement on binding targets to ensure a fair distribution of the costs of climate protection and to avoid lopsided disadvantages in worldwide competition. At national levels, for the implementation of these targets we need instruments and measures which accelerate technological progress and the deployment of the available sustainable technologies.

Here, market forces play a decisive role. However, in the past we have seen a major malfunctioning of markets. Due to energy prices that either did not reflect the true costs of greenhouse gas emissions or were not fully transparent to consumers, clean technologies were outrivaled by the old, cheaper but energy inefficient technologies. Therefore we cannot just rely on research funding to trigger the necessary innovations. However, climate change policies that work against the markets will not succeed. Governments therefore need to strive to 'get the prices right' and in this way unleash market forces as the most powerful ally in following a new climate friendly path. With a fixed emissions cap for major emitters and the establishment of an emissions trading scheme, the EU has made an important step in this direction, laying the basis for an international carbon market.

But more can and must be done to activate market forces. Success will only be achieved through a combination of additional economic incentives for industry and consumers, consumer information, and the promotion of new technology. Where markets still fail, regulatory intervention, particularly minimum standards and monitoring by public agencies, becomes inevitable.

Reaching a fair international agreement with binding targets for each country, formulating the necessary well balanced policy package that enables our societies to grow and prosper and thus transforming our industrial societies into a low-carbon society - that is the challenge for the industrialized world, and one which I am sure can be accomplished.

Source: BMU/Destatis (2007)

Figure 2.1 Decoupling growth, energy consumption and emissions in Germany

Source: BMU/Destatis (2007)

Figure 2.1 Decoupling growth, energy consumption and emissions in Germany

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment