Climate change mitigation

Climate protection is the collective term for measures that counteract human-induced global warming and possible consequences mitigated (mitigation ), or even to prevent. Because global warming is the view of many researchers already no longer completely stop, but only mitigate and limit was, would be in addition to reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and geo-engineering measures for adaptation to unavoidable climate change needed (adaptation), eg. dike construction and disaster preparedness.

Main approaches of climate change are on the one hand to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that are released by industrial and agricultural production, due to energy consumption in transport, in private homes and in public spaces. On the other hand it comes to the preservation, and the active promotion of such natural ingredients that absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide quantitatively significant (so-called CO2 sinks ). This is - in addition to the oceans - on the one hand large forest areas, especially tropical rain forests and boreal forests, but also to wetlands such as bogs, swamps and floodplains. Since the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, the " REDD " model is developed in this context, which provides for compensation payments for forest protection measures in developing countries and local organizations.

To climate change include not only large-scale macroeconomic measures and orientations, as well as the national and international climate change policy and education and behavior change in individuals, especially in industrialized countries with a relatively high energy consumption and corresponding polluter shares in the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

International Politics

By now, most countries have signed the international legally binding UNFCCC United Nations in 1992, with the help of dangerous interference with the climate system is to be prevented. In its impact has been and is being negotiated mainly through reduction targets of greenhouse gas emissions, which are listed in the Kyoto Protocol. This officially entered into force on 16 February 2005 and contains provisions to the year 2012. In the post-Kyoto process is meanwhile negotiating a successor regime for the subsequent period.

Technical possibilities

Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

At the technical level, there is a variety of options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So with today's means could also be an effective climate protection realized. However, the cost of such a prevention strategy are not clearly assessable; still significantly larger uncertainties occur in the numbering of the subsequent costs of unabated climate change and inhibit the necessary investments. Nevertheless, estimates the German Institute for Economic Research that an effective climate change by 2050 about 200 billion U.S. dollars in damages made ​​avoidable.


The use of fossil fuels for energy production makes a significant contribution to the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. Therefore, a switch to low-CO2 - free energy sources or is sought for reasons of climate protection. Most likely to offer this to the renewable energy ( natural gas powered ) cogeneration plants and nuclear power plants. These energy sources are not entirely free of CO2 ( raw material extraction, construction and maintenance of power stations, if necessary, recovery of the organic fuels ) however partially a significant reduction in specific CO2 release. Another possibility is to increase the energy efficiency of existing power plants that run on fossil fuels, particularly in countries with large inefficiencies such as China. There, power plants are used, the efficiency of about 20 % below the prior art.

A fully regenerative and thus carbon-free energy supply worldwide is theoretically considered 2050 to be technically feasible. In Germany, a climate-friendly energy supply could be achieved by 2050. This would require but the pace will increase significantly in the development of renewable energies. First, however, there are setbacks due to missing pre-planning in the electricity grid, by previously unknown effects of weather on off -shore wind plants, etc. Outside of electricity a greater limitation of fossil energy is questionable. The use of biomass for energy and raw material purposes competes with the production of food and feed. The economically interesting conversion of forest into oil palm plantations may even be counter-productive; Industrial agriculture is only short-term rewarding, destroyed livelihoods and drives off the ground displaced into misery: Giant land in southern countries are robbed of the resident population. The areas that are suitable for long- term accumulation of CO2 in biomass, especially in forests and bogs are also always lower world. Alternative technical options for CO2 sequestration are still missing or are energy intensive, such as CO2 sequestration or are little explored and controversial as the fertilization of oceans.

Through Renewable Energy nearly 145 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents were saved in Germany in 2012. This represents more than 15 percent of the total greenhouse gases emitted.

The discussed as a contribution to climate protection use of nuclear energy is controversial among scientists as well as in the population. In addition to the associated with the production, accumulation and transport of uranium emissions of carbon dioxide are the risks of an accident, is released in the radioactivity and referred to the long-term storage of radioactive waste as criticisms. In Germany, the share of nuclear power plants in electricity generation at around 26% and the value of avoided carbon dioxide emissions is at 100-150 million tons. According to some experts and politicians view associated with the uranium deployment greenhouse gas emissions are not taken into account, however, which is denied by the operators of nuclear power plants. Unlike nuclear power plants that generate electricity from nuclear fission, nuclear fusion reactors will use nuclear fusion, but are not expected to be ready for the market before 2050, so until then they do not play a role in climate protection. The research project ITER is to demonstrate that nuclear fusion can provide energy in this way; ITER is designed to produce about as much thermal energy as it consumes itself, but not generate electricity. It also serves to develop and test a process for planned Incubation of tritium needed as fuel as well as finding materials for the reaction vessel would be exposed to strong neutron radiation.

International project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

One of the so-called large-scale solutions is the Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation ( TREC ), an initiative of the Club of Rome and the Hamburg Climate Protection Foundation. This is committed to the implementation of a cooperative intercontinental use of solar energy. In North Africa and the Middle East electricity to be generated and by high- voltage direct current lines ( HVDC ) to Europe passed by means of solar thermal power plants. Satellite-based studies by the German Aerospace Center (DLR ) confirm the abundant supply of solar energy and the need for the feasibility and benefits of the earliest possible implementation of the required TREC measures. With less than 0.3 percent of the available desert areas in North Africa and the Middle East enough power and drinking water for the growing needs of all states involved can be generated. This allows for a halt to the expansion of coal -, gas - and oil-fired power plants in all the participating countries.

Other correlations

Measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions be brought by its advocates with other initiatives to protect the environment in the context, so with positive side effects for keeping clean air (eg in cities). The advocates of preventive measures will also argued that the economically viable production rates of fossil fuels anyway short ( oil: possibly as early in the current decade, see Global peak oil ) to medium (gas. Maximum 60 years, coal: see coal production peak ) periods of advised its limits, which, according to expert opinion as the deer Report made ​​it necessary early switch to alternative energy sources or nuclear power plants.

The vorzustellende as Climate Protection technical Ideally worldwide abandonment of fossil fuels leads to common doctrine because of the inertia of the reduction of greenhouse gases to an unchecked for at least another 25 years warming. An immediate, complete conversion to renewable energy systems shall be deemed not possible, so that substitute technologies must be developed and built with the help of fossil fuels before its end.

The reduction of animal products (as in veganism ) can contribute to climate protection. The production of one kilogram of beef 6.5 grams of carbon dioxide ( CO2) would be released in one kilograms vegetables but only 0.15 grams of CO2, but the protein needs can only be met with high-quality vegetable protein such as soy - a rough rule of thumb says: If the soybean harvest a field of human nutrition is directly can, five times as many people make a living as indirectly via beef. The vegetarian diet of less than 10 % of the world population carries some help to reduce the world carbon dioxide emissions - most of them live in India, where meat -eaters the world's climate is minimally impacted by modest consumption. Worldwide, however, the meat consumption is increasing rapidly, especially in East Asia. European vegetarians and vegans may be a moral model, but that affects the development erupted as good as not.

Measures to reduce CO2 emissions

2005, the primary energy consumption in Germany amounted to 14 238 PJ. This corresponds to an average power of 451 gigawatts or 5473 watts / capita for a population of 82.4 million people. The consumption is divided approximately as follows:

  • Industry 24.9%
  • Transport 27.0%
  • Households 30.5%
  • Commerce / Trade / Services 17.6 %

To achieve the objectives of the Kyoto protocol, the primary energy consumption in the energy lowered or fossil fuels by low-CO2 need to be replaced specifically. While in Germany in 2011 eight nuclear power plants from the grid went ( after Fukushima nuclear phase ), the greenhouse gas emissions in Germany decreased compared to the previous year by two percent. Compared to the reference year 1990, the output was down by 26.5 percent. The growing share of renewable electricity and the mild winter were cited as reasons (see also Photovoltaics in Germany ).

  • 2011 photovoltaic systems were (PV systems) newly installed with a total capacity of around 7,500 MW. 2010, there were 7,400 MW.
  • 2011 wind turbines were installed with a total capacity of 2085 MW. 2010, there were 1551 MW, 2009 MW in 1917, 2008 MW in 1665.

Improving energy efficiency means ' more output per input ' or ' less input for a constant output '. The latter means energy savings. For greater energy efficiency in domestic, commercial and traffic there are a variety of technical solutions:

Good insulation of the building envelope (roof, facades, windows, basement ceiling ) and use of energy- efficient condensing boilers or heat pumps leads to low-energy house or on the KfW -funded passive house. For example, could (2007 /8) avoid the city of Freiburg im Breisgau by good insulation of residential buildings 58 percent of CO2 emissions.

Passive houses already enable a reduction in energy consumption in households by up to 80%; for factory buildings are similar concepts available (see ESD ). Modern shower heads can reduce shower water consumption by up to 50%.

The use of renewable energies is ideally CO2 neutral.

Reduction of transport demand, more efficient transportation.

The public sector can reduce by a small-scale city planning and land planning paths constraints. With the offer of public bicycles try several cities to make the bike for short distances attractive. An attractive public transport can reduce the compulsion to motor vehicle. Energy-saving vehicles can be promoted.

Not uncontroversial - - ​​alternative fuels such as biodiesel, vegetable oil, bioethanol or in development Biomass to Liquids used in traffic.

Organizations such as KlimaINVEST, Atmosfair or myclimate allow compensation for alleged damage to air, for example by air travel. With the voluntary sales climate protection projects are encouraged.

See also: Top Runner Program

Measures in the home and in the workplace

Regardless of the international climate change policy, which so far is slow, each / individual can contribute in a personal and in the social environment to avoid unnecessary emissions of greenhouse gases. Only through personal energy savings, the average fuel consumption - and therefore CO2 emissions - will be reduced by 20-50 percent in the household. Also restraint in the consumption of animal products, primarily in the cattle is emphasized as an individual contribution to climate protection recently significantly. The dairy, butter and cheese production is greenhouse gas free as the whole of European agriculture. However, the majority comes from the global beef cattle; by escaping from animals' stomachs methane, which contributes to the anthropogenic greenhouse effect. Brazil has risen in a few years the largest meat exporter, the rain forest suffers. Unavoidable emissions can be offset by funding carefully selected climate protection projects elsewhere.

Increase energy efficiency and possibilities of energy saving

Fuel-efficient electrical appliances consume between one and two -thirds less energy compared to inefficient devices. When buying new energy efficient appliances, heating systems and vehicles in terms of climate protection is to be sure both continue to be used without buying new or second-hand solution over the life of the product considered is not the more efficient alternative. For both the production of new equipment and the disposal of used products are usually very energy intensive. When buying a new one, the market can be searched for low-energy products. The EU's energy efficiency class also provides information on the consumption of appliances and large household appliances are the low-energy institute regularly the list of " particularly fuel-efficient household appliances" out.

Since the motorized road transport has a very large share of carbon dioxide emissions, there is here a great potential for personal savings. Here exist depending on the occasion of the journey, the ways to dispense with a ride, they shorten by combination with other purposes ( trip chains ), then return them with environmentally friendly modes of transport or zuzulegen an economical low-energy vehicle. By participating in carsharing, the energy consumption can be distributed in the manufacture and disposal of a vehicle on many users.

Among the personal climate protection measures, which can meet individuals in their respective areas of activity, including in the areas of energy efficiency and energy conservation:

  • Use efficient household appliances and for example use energy-saving lamps;
  • Restrained use of air conditioning (see also " Cool Biz ");
  • Install better insulation of the building envelope (roof, facades, windows, basement ceiling ) in private homes and realize new buildings to passive house standard;
  • Operate heaters with high efficiency as possible, including their regular maintenance and, if appropriate, renewal;
  • Avoidance of car trips and air travel, particularly from domestic flights;
  • Energy- saving driving of motor vehicles (pass niedertourig; foresight to approach traffic lights and obstacles in order to avoid unnecessary braking and new approach, using engine brake; avoid high tempo, adjust the flow of traffic );
Eco-friendly consumer behavior

With their demand, their purchase and mobility behavior of individual consumers can also act in the interests of climate protection by using climate-friendly products and services:

  • Shortening the food chain through increased consumption of vegetable rather than animal products: less meat and animal products such as milk and cheese to eat;
  • Switch to green energy as well as other use of renewable energy, particularly for heating and cooling (photovoltaic, geothermal, solar thermal, biomass);
  • Use of public transport;
  • Use of climate-friendly of those engines and fuels, such as biodiesel or vegetable oil from sustainable sources
  • Locally produced products prefer to avoid long transport routes (eg food from the environment against imported prefer );
  • Avoid chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the garden;
  • Pay attention to eco-friendly packaging when purchasing;
  • Purchase of carbon securities; View on trading of emission reduction potential can be realized in places where this is cost-effective manner.
  • Likewise, in the implementation of climate change projects of technology transfer is promoted worldwide and on social aspects such as job creation or improvement of working conditions is taken positive influence.

Geo - Engineering

The Copenhagen Consensus Center at Copenhagen Business School recommends geoengineering as a more efficient alternative to emission reductions.


Various observers have pointed out that climate change also offers economic opportunities. The Federal Statistical Office announced that were generated in Germany with climate protection relevant goods and services in 2011 more than 45 billion euros in sales. This represents just two percent of the total gross domestic product (GDP). In Saxony -Anhalt four percent of GDP was generated by climate change related revenues, in Bavaria 3.5 percent. The largest share of total sales had the solar energy industry with a turnover of 14.3 billion euro, but also the wind ( 8.3 billion euros ) and the bioenergy sector ( 2.2 billion euros ) could contribute to GDP.

According to analyzes of the members of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation and the consulting firm AT Kearney is present in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa an investment potential of around 500 billion euros for climate protection techniques. The largest item is omitted with 51 billion euros in wind energy.