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Climate | Energy

Climate change brought about by the sharp rise in greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the industrial era is a global challenge that the community of nations is hoping can be mastered via an effective international climate protection treaty that is slated to take effect in 2020. The top priority in this regard is greenhouse gas emission reductions. The goal of German energy policy is to reduce such emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 and by 80 to 95 percent by 2050, relative to 1990 levels. The measures in this regard aim to increase the use of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency.

If we are to have any hope of reducing greenhouse gases, we will need to substantially roll back energy use, improve energy efficiency and at the same time ramp up renewable energy production and use. To leverage this potential, we need to institute efficiency measures and optimize renewable energy technologies. But to do this, it is crucial that economic, infrastructure and political obstacles be overcome.

What is the key to the success of climate protection measures? Timely, sustainable infrastructure investments worldwide that will create conditions early on and in a timely manner that will be conducive to adherence to the two degree ceiling. Hence transformation of our economic systems and their underlying socioeconomic structures (energy systems, urbanization and land use) will need to begin at the national level, and then continue based on an across the board sustainable-development paradigm on the global level. As a society, we need to be very clear about the fact that climate protection cannot and will not be achieved through technical solutions alone, and will instead necessitate fundamental transformation of our lifestyles, "mentalités", and values.

In the interest of moving toward achieving these goals, in 2010 the German government adopted an ambitious energy infrastructure transformation program that sets a long term strategy for German energy and climate policy. We at the UBA are supporting this process through our own investigations of long term scenarios aimed at energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy, and energy-infrastructure transformation monitoring. To this end, we are implementing instruments such as carbon trading, the guarantee of origin register, and the "Blauer Engel" seal of environmental quality.

Climate action: how to reduce emissions even before 2020

wind energy plants on a field

The international community resolved to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius. The mitigation activities proposed by the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will not be enough to achieve that goal. An UBA report shows how the gap can be narrowed even before 2020, for example with more efficient electrical appliances and through renewable energy support. read more

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Global record temperatures and flash floods in Germany – small taste of the summer of the future?

passage underground overflooded by rain

2016 has made it especially clear what is going to happen when anthropogenic climate change and the resulting warming of the Earth meet the natural climate phenomenon El Niño. Global temperatures have jumped to new highs: it has been the hottest summer worldwide and may well be the hottest on record since 1880. The numerous droughts and flooding incidents have shown the extreme side of weather. read more

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Peatland and forest climate protection to reduce GHG emissions

drainage channel through a peatland

In 2013 the disturbed soil of peatlands and forests caused emissions with climate impact of about 45 million tonnes CO2 in Germany alone. The drainage of peatland exposes plant material to the air which was previously preserved in airtight conditions and then releases carbon and nitrous oxide. An UBA study develops incentives how to reduce peatland emissions worldwide. read more

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Retreat of settlements to adapt to climate change

Municipalities must adapt to climate change

Settlement contraction is a possible measure to adapt to climate change and address the issue of flooding which will become more frequent in future. In shrinking rural areas it could help eliminate the consequences of demographic change. But is law already developed to the point that such measures could be enforced? read more

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UBA measures new record highs for carbon dioxide

Building of the air quality measuring station on a snow-covered slope

A sad record: concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide at both of the UBA´s measuring stations on the Zugspitze and the Schauinsland exceeded an annual average level of more than 400 parts per million for the first time. read more

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The Umweltbundesamt

For our environment