Appeal for more climate and environmental protection

In an open letter, SDSN Germany and RNE call on the parties SPD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, FDP and CDU/CSU to include binding climate and environmental protection targets in a coalition agreement.


For the first time, various scientific advisory boards have joined forces to appeal to a forming German government to include binding targets for climate and environmental protection in a coalition agreement. Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge is supporting the open letter as co-chair of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Germany (SDSN), as it also done by Prof. Dr. Imme Scholz as vice-chair of the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE). The German Council of Economic Experts, the Science Platform Sustainability 2030 and the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) also performed as driving forces behind the open letter towards the potential coalition parties SPD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, FDP and CDU/CSU.

Under the title “Paving the way for a sustainable future”, the open letter is dedicated to a policy of “awakening(s) in society and the economy” which places the global common good at the center of political and strategic action. Democracy and social cohesion must be in harmony with prosperity and respect for planetary boundaries, and not be mutually exclusive. The various advisory councils call for a correction of the current political orientation, given that the dangers of a lack of environmental and climate protection are already affecting populations worldwide. Further catastrophes are inevitable if the Paris Agreement is not complied, such as global warming of 3° Celsius, an increasing loss of biodiversity and habitats and the associated social divisions, as well as unequal development opportunities for poorer and richer countries of the international community.

The authors of the letter demand responsibility on the part of politicians and simultaneously emphasise the willingness of large parts of the economy and society to dedicate themselves to the necessary transformation processes and to actively participate in shaping them. As the writers highlight, the aim towards climate neutrality in Germany and the world requires various core elements to implement and comply with the UN sustainability agenda. For example, (1) the entry into the hydrogen economy is called for, (2) the transformation of the agricultural and food systems is emphasised, following the Commission on the Future of Agriculture, and (3) extensive infrastructure development for the energy transition and climate-friendly mobility is required. These and further essential components of a comprehensive transformation are already an enormous challenge when considered individually. But taken together, they put societies worldwide to the test. A socially balanced distribution of burdens (and benefits) would therefore be an integral part of these innovations. The various councils also make clear that staying in the current path will exceed planetary limits.

Levers for transformation

The use of various “levers” is necessary to make the transformation processes equitable. Here, the authors mention the following aspects:

  1. a system of taxes and levies related to climate and environmental protection
  2. an environment in which technological and social innovations are promoted
  3. the complete elimination of fossil fuel subsidies

These processes would have to be embedded in various sustainable, future-oriented digitalisation steps, as well as a climate protection-oriented design of the economy. In this respect, the authors also emphasise the direct link to the European level with regard to emissions trading.

The various scientific advisory boards identify the expansion of cooperation in sustainable development as a possible first step in setting the levers of the transformation processes in motion. The new legislative period is now the chance to tackle the necessary changes with commitment and to secure the future of the present and further generations.

The open letter found many supporters, including the Advisory Board of the Federal Government for Civilian Crisis Prevention and Peacebuilding as well as the UN Political Advisory Council for the concerns of climate and environmental protection.

The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” published an article about the open letter of the scientific advisory boards: Open letter to the new government: Advisors demand more sustainability – Wissen – SZ.de (sueddeutsche.de).

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