Latest publication: Beyond Climate Neutrality

Ahead of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow in November 2021, the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) presented a policy paper entitled ‘Beyond Climate Neutrality’. In the paper, the WBGU recommends making national long-term strategies a key topic at the Glasgow climate conference in order to provide orientation for current climate policy. Up to now, countries have only been obliged to submit short-term ‘nationally determined contributions’ (NDCs) to climate-change mitigation. These need to become far more ambitious and to start promoting policies conducive to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In the WBGU’s view, therefore, countries must also be obliged to formulate and communicate long-term strategies that go beyond climate neutrality and aim for global climate stabilization, offering guidelines for strengthening NDCs and a basis for an internationally coordinated sustainability policy. This view was given a valuable boost by a ruling handed down on 24 March 2021 by Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court, which imposed on German legislators a constitutional obligation to formulate long-term strategies to reduce CO2¬†emissions beyond 2030.

Long-term strategies should contain three separate priorities for this purpose, the WBGU argues: they should first stipulate a rapid and complete phase-out of fossil-fuel use, second, aim at the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of ecosystems, and third, make strategic preparations for the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.

The strategies should furthermore aim for multiple benefits with other sustainability dimensions, such as health and poverty reduction, WBGU continued. Finally, it is extremely important to take into account the international impacts of the measures laid down in national long-term strategies, such as the consequences of planned imports of green hydrogen, the WBGU concluded. Read more