Leopoldina news 3_2021 - Page 7

3 / 2021 // LEOPOLDINA / NEWS 7

“ Mobilisation of society , economy and politics to achieve climate neutrality ”

The Council for Sustainable Development ( RNE ) and the Leopoldina pave the way for a successful transformation
We are living in an age of multiple global crises . The actions of the human race are destabilising the Earth system so significantly that the very existence and opportunities of present and future generations are under threat as is the diversity of life on our planet . Faced with the challenge of our times – centred in particular around the climate crisis – the Leopoldina and the Council for Sustainable Development ( RNE ) decided to publish a joint position paper .
BY GERALD H . HAUG ML *

After eight months of intense deliberations , the position paper was presented to Dr . Angela Merkel , Germany ’ s Chancellor , at the annual RNE conference on 8 June 2021 . The work of 15 members of the RNE and 15 scientists representing a range of fields who had been selected by the Leopoldina , the position paper set out prioritised options for ways to successfully manage the major transformation of our economy and society required to achieve climate neutrality . The aim of the project was to provide the next government with specific steps that could be put into action .

Climate neutrality needs to have been achieved globally by the middle of the century at the latest if we are to have any chance of stabilising the climate and being left with a habitable planet . If we do not take serious action now , we will have used up our remaining greenhouse gas emission budget set to keep global warming within a limit of 1.5 ° C before 2030 .
We are on the brink of irreversible tipping points , for example when it comes to coral reefs , ice sheets , permafrost soils and rainforests . The upcoming legislature period is going to prove critical in decidedly pushing forward with efforts to combat climate change and
“ Climate neutrality needs to have been achieved globally by the middle of the century at the latest if we are to have any chance of stabilising the climate and being left with a habitable planet .“
Gerald Haug President of the Leopoldina
meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement . In its decision dated 24 March 2021 , the German Federal Constitutional Court ( BVerfG ) decreed that the burden of reducing emissions must not be placed disproportionately on the shoulders of future generations . Continuing with the theme of generational equity , all generations have a responsibility to mobilise society , economy and politics to ensure that everyone contributes towards the efforts to achieve climate neutrality .
There is a huge political push for fundamental change all around the world right now . We need to make the most of the European Green Deal , the new
US administration and the additional climate pledges by China and the G7 nations to forge and consolidate international alliances in the fight against climate change .
The emissions trading system is seen as a key tool in achieving climate neutrality . But this needs to be incorporated into an overarching climate strategy setting out the legal framework , funding and
Image : David Ausserhofer | Leopoldina
regulatory policies at the political level . Cross-sector investments in infrastructure developments and new eco-friendly technology are also required , with a forward-focused approach a must .
All of these points are discussed at length in the joint position paper along with more on funding , foreign policy , international solidarity , social balance and education . Any measures taken now to achieve climate neutrality will also need to be adapted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic , which has – and will continue to have – long-term repercussions for politics , the economy and society . Now is the time to set our course for the future .
* Gerald H . Haug is a climate researcher , geologist and paleoceanographer . The President of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina since 2020 , he is a co-author of the position paper by RNE and the Leopoldina .
Position paper “ Climate neutrality ”