Inside JGU 2019 - Issue 9 (September)

View More Stories: JGU delegation attends lecture on “The Climate Emergency, the German ‘Energiewende’ and the Great Transformation”

 

A delegation from JGU attended a workshop and lecture on ‘The Climate Emergency, the German ‘Energiewende’ and the Great Transformation” delivered by Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, former Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) on 17 September 2019 in New Delhi.

 

World Class Climate Science Lecture at the German Embassy

 

by Professor (Dr.) Annika Bose Styczynski, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy (JSGP)

 

On September 17, 2019, a long-cherished wish came true. One of the leading and most influential climate scientists of our times visited Delhi for a workshop and lecture on “The Climate Emergency, the German ‘Energiewende’ and the Great Transformation”. Nobody less than Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber himself, former director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), a coordinating author for the 5th Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and an important thought leader in the natural science research on tipping points in systems of non-linear dynamics, addressed the mindful audience. 

The ecosystems of the globe – the Jet Stream, the Amazon Rainforest, the Indian Summer Monsoon, etc. – are like organs of the human body. If one of these organs shows irregularities or fails altogether, trigger effects on other organs and system elements are highly likely to occur. Similarly, the human body is well tempered between 36.5 – 37.5°C turning into different stages of a fever that could ultimately lead to a circulatory collapse and cardiovascular failure at 40°C and above. The IPCC special report of October 2018 has shown how sensitive global ecosystems are to a global temperature increase of merely 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

 

Without engaging in the ideological partisan feuding, Schellnhuber stands for a science that has the duty to communicate its unbiased findings, to further deepen our understanding of the earth system mechanisms at work, and to arrive at recommendations that support us in addressing the life-threatening ills. Decades of research have led him to declare ‘Climate Emergency’. Schellnhuber compares our current situation with a person who has jumped out of the top floor of a skyscraper and is still thrilled by the speed of the fall without being able to realise the inevitable clash. At the current rate of global greenhouse gas emissions of unabated 41Gt annually, we would be a split of a second away from that crash.

 

To back-out of fossil fuel consumption is one of the most important steps we can collectively take. In January this year, the German Coal Commission stipulated the phase-out conditions for coal in Germany with a complete elimination of coal in the energy mix by 2038 the latest. This is absolutely critical in order to reinforce the positive effects of renewable energies on the health of our planet. Starting with 3.6 per cent renewables in the power mix in 1990, we have achieved a share of 47 per cent in the first half of 2019. In conjunction with a nuclear phase out by 2022, Germany is now headed to a power mix of 100 per cent renewable sources of energy by 2050.

Even if Germany currently contributes merely 2 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions per annum, we are fully aware of our historic responsibility and want to provide an example of how the Great Transformation can work out.

To deeply decarbonise our economies, carbon pricing is an important instrument with the power to correctly and unambiguously signal the rights and wrongs in this Herculean venture. Governments, businesses and people the world over must begin to work together in a mutually supportive manner towards this one and only goal – the deep decarbonisation of our collective actions.