Climate change: a threat to people and the environment
Climate change can already be felt in our own latitudes. It takes the form of above-average winter temperatures, dry summers and increasingly frequent extreme weather events such as storms and heavy rainfall. However, it impacts most severely on those who bear very little responsibility for changes in the global climate, namely the world’s poorest countries. It is predicted that around 200 million people will be forced to flee their homes, or will at least lose the basis of their food supply, due to rising sea levels and desertification. Water scarcity is another extreme, and is predicted to affect 250 million people in Africa by 2020.
Limiting global temperature rise to 2°C
According to scientists, a global rise in temperature to a maximum of 2°C would still be – just – manageable. However, any further increase in temperature harbours the risk that the global climate will reach a tipping point, leading to uncontrollable climate change and posing a threat to our life support systems. In order to limit global warming to a – just – manageable level, the industrialised countries must cut their greenhouse gas emissions: by at least 25-40 per cent by 2020 and by at least 80-95 per cent by 2050, compared with the 1990 baseline. By far the major share of these reductions must come from the industrialised countries themselves. However, this will only work if the reductions are not bought at knock-down prices in developing and emerging countries using “flexible instruments”, which could even increase the burden on these countries.
However, developing and emerging countries also have a responsibility to protect the global climate. They should move away from the “business as usual” pathway and aim to cut their emissions by at least 15-30 per cent. However, they cannot do so without support. So the billions of euros required for the transfer of the requisite technology and know-how must be made available without delay, for time is pressing: by 2020, at the latest, the world must have achieved a noticeable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Consistently utilising the opportunities afforded by climate protection
We want Germany to regain its position as a climate pioneer. This meant cutting emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020. Above all, it means consistently utilising the opportunities afforded by climate protection and creating new green jobs. The fact is that climate and efficiency technologies will be the products in greatest demand in tomorrow’s global markets.
The environmental technologies sector already employs 1.8 million people. Renewables alone provide employment for 250,000 people – far more than the coal industry. In a few years, around half a million people may well find new jobs in areas relating to climate protection. Action to protect the climate will also be cheaper than mitigating the massive damage caused by unabated climate change.
Above all, our green policy for climate protection has a social component which will particularly benefit people in lower income groups: lower CO2 emissions mean less consumption of electricity, gas and oil, and hence a substantial reduction in energy costs.
The ecological tax reform: the key to climate protection
The ecological modernisation of our economy is crucial for sustainable and successful climate protection. However, this can only be achieved if a price is finally put on the environmental resources that we consume, and on the damage to the climate. Economic actors will only be prepared to make the necessary investments if more sparing use of environmental resources pays off. At present, the consumption of environmental resources costs business very little: on the contrary, it benefits from subsidies and tax advantages. In Germany, practices which harm the environment and the climate receive annual subsidies amounting to 42 billion euros.
While the profits generally flow into the pockets of private individuals and companies, it is the public which usually has to deal with the adverse effects and even pay for the damage. The degradation of the environment is costly for everyone. That is why we need an ecological financial reform. This will combine the abolition of environmentally harmful subsidies with tax incentives to encourage green behaviour, along with a shift in the tax burden away from factor “labour” to factor “environment”. Only an ecological financial reform puts a price on the environment as a scarce and valuable asset. This will make it cheaper for businesses to switch to sustainable forms of production, and it will also protect the climate, make sparing use of resources, and promote production in closed cycles.
The Green New Deal
We are advocates for a Green New Deal. In essence, this means no longer living at others’ expense. The Green New Deal is intended to establish the economy on a sustainable footing, making more sparing use of precious resources and creating new, future-oriented jobs. To that end, we want to promote smart innovations – technological, social and culture. Our Green New Deal combines ecological fairness with a politics of participation and social security. It aims to empower everyone to live a self-determined life and offers new opportunities for personal, social and economic development.