It is […] not a matter of environmental protection; what is at stake is the continuation of human civilization.Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
The continuation of the current emission trends corresponds to the worst-case scenario of the climate models: a rise in global temperatures by an average of 4 to 5 degrees by the end of the century alone. This corresponds to the heating since the last cold period – but accelerated by a factor of one hundred. Hardly any ecosystem can change at this rate. This will not only cause species extinction on an unprecedented scale, but will also call into question the basis of human life.
A person in Germany currently contributes about 10 times as much to the overheating of the earth as a person in Nicaragua, and 100 times as much as a person from Malawi.1
If we also take into account the historical emissions we have caused since industrialization – they are the price we have paid for our progress – the special responsibility we have derives. Nothing gives us the right to continue to use the atmosphere as a dumping ground for greenhouse gases.
Greenhouse gases are spreading around the world, but the effects vary extremely from region to region. While conditions for agriculture may even improve in some areas at higher latitudes, the emergence of areas near the equator is predicted where human life will soon no longer be possible.2 Entire national territories could become uninhabitable. We, as the perpetrators of the catastrophe, who also have at least rudimentary opportunities to adapt, are getting off comparatively lightly. Countless people in the Global South, however, will be deprived of their entire livelihood.
Knowing this, globally just action for us here can only mean: Use all efforts and means in our privileged position to become climate neutral as soon as possible!
For good reasons, the global community decided in Paris in 2015 to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees – preferably 1.5 degrees – above pre-industrial levels. Most of the tipping points in the Earth system are predicted to occur in and above this range, which could trigger an uncontrollable chain reaction of self-reinforcing changes.
But the greenhouse gas budget (in relation to Germany), that we have left to meet the target of 1.5 degree, will not even last until the end of this decade at current emission levels.3 A plan is urgently needed that shows how the necessary emission reductions can be initiated as quickly as possible. This is exactly what we demand for Jena in our citizens petition: the creation of a climate action plan that specifically identifies all measures to make our city climate neutral by 2035.
More climate facts
1 Wikipedia: Liste der Länder nach CO2-Emission pro Kopf
2 Mora et al. 2017: Global risk of deadly heat. Nature Climate Change
3 Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfragen 2020: S. 51