20th Annual Conference of the German Council for Sustainable Development

Logo Aufbruch in ein Jahrzehnt der Nachhaltigkeit


The focus of the annual meeting on 8 June 2021 was was the presentation of the paper „Setting the course for climate neutrality in this decade“,which the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) had developed together with the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina over the past eight months.

The paper presents options with regard to international partnerships, an appropriate policy mix, regulatory reforms, decarbonization of energy systems and transformation of the real economy, as well as the societal preconditions and opportunities for transformation. The path to climate neutrality is linked to the transformational areas of sustainable development, with a particular focus on intra- and intergenerational equity issues.

The paper was presented to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with a vote of thanks for her reliable presence at the annual conference over the past 15 years of her chancellorship.

Imme Scholz, Vice Chair of the Council, together with Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, presented the key requirements for international cooperation for climate neutrality. Essential, they said, are international strategic alliances of the European Union to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Not only with the pioneers such as the USA, South Korea, Morocco or Costa Rica, but also with countries such as Nigeria and Russia, which have to make considerable adjustments due to their dependence on fossil fuels. In this way, the following key levers could be jointly shaped: 1) sustainable finance; 2) implementation of green investment and stimulus programs; 3) basic and applied research; and 4) strengthening global climate governance.

Moreover, both argued that addressing the COVID-19 crisis must be linked to the transformation of infrastructures and the economy. The enormous economic burdens of the pandemic – disproportionately higher than those of the 2008/2009 financial crisis – in particular hindered sustainable, future-oriented change in developing countries and intensified the global question of justice associated with climate change and climate neutrality.  What is needed, they said, is debt relief and debt restructuring, the provision of climate finance on the scale promised, and a tax policy that creates transparency and prevents money laundering and tax evasion.

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