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General Information - Climate Protection

What is climate protection about?

The Earth’s atmosphere is a natural marvel. It contains the so-called greenhouse gases surrounding the Earth like a protective shield. They prevent the heat from the Earth escaping into space. This natural shield of our planet is under threat as industry, households and traffic constantly increase the amount of greenhouse gases, in particular of carbon dioxide (CO2). The result: The atmosphere is heating up to an unnatural extent. If we fail to limit global warming, far-reaching consequences are expected all over the world: According to expert estimates, the sea level will rise by 10 to 90 cm by 2100. Coastal regions and low-lying island states would be flooded. Deserts will spread and glaciers will melt.

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Restricting global climate change is a task and target for the entire international community. The increase in the average global temperature must be limited to a maximum of 2 degree Celsius compared with preindustrial levels. Already at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 the international community agreed on stabilising greenhouse gas emissions worldwide (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (external PDF, 80 KB)). In 1997, binding commitments concerning the greenhouse gas emissions by industrialised countries were set in the Kyoto Protocol (external PDF, 75 KB).

  • Under the Kyoto Protocol the industrialised states have committed themselves to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by a total of 5 percent in the period 2008 to 2012 compared with 1990.
  • The European Union has pledged to cut its emissions by 8 percent during the period 2008 to 2012 compared with 1990 levels.
  • In the framework of EU effort sharing under the Kyoto Protocol, Germany has committed itself to cutting its emissions of climate-damaging gases by a total of 21 percent in the period 2008 to 2012 compared with 1990.

In addition, Germany has pledged to reduce its GHG emissions by even 40 percent by 2020 compared with 1990, irrespective of the necessary efforts by other states.

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Government policy

Our integrated energy and climate programme

In order to reach the ambitious German climate protection goals the Federal Government has elaborated a comprehensive Integrated Energy and Climate Programme. Its goal is to ensure an ultramodern, secure and climate-friendly energy supply in Germany. It comprises measures for enhanced energy efficiency and expanded use of renewable energy sources.

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Climate Initiative

In 2008, the German Environment Ministry launched a comprehensive Climate Initiative, financed with additional funds from the emissions trading scheme. It aims to tap existing potential for reducing emissions in a cost-effective way and to advance innovative model projects for climate protection. Specifically, the BMUB promotes climate protection measures for increased energy efficiency and greater use of renewable energies.

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The German Adaptation Strategy

Even if we manage to limit the rise in the global average temperature to 2 degree Celsius compared to preindustrial levels, there will be consequences of climate change to deal with – even in Germany. We have to be prepared for this, we need adaptation. Therefore, the Federal government adopted the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change in December 2008. The aim of the Adaptation Strategy is to reduce vulnerability to the consequences of climate change, i.e. to maintain or improve the adaptability of natural, social and economic systems. As part of the further development of the Adaptation Strategy, an Action Plan on Adaptation will be coordinated with the Federal Länder and submitted by mid-2011.

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Support for climate protection on the international level by the German Environment Ministry

In addition, the German Environment Ministry supports measures for adaptation to climate change and the conservation of climate-relevant biodiversity in developing and newly industrialising countries. In doing so the Environment Ministry endorses its target to achieve a new ambitious international climate protection agreement for the post-2012 period.

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Consumer information

Climate protection starts at home. Any avoidance of unnecessary CO2 emissions is an investment in our own future. Not using your car but going by bike or making use of public transport, setting up car pools and buying household devices, light bulbs, heating installations and vehicles that are energy efficient contributes to climate protection. Even switching off the standby mode when not using devices like printers or TV sets would save 14 million tonnes of CO2 in Germany alone and would also spell electricity cost savings of up to 75 Euro per year in many households.

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