Can the military be climate neutral negative

Become climate neutral by 2035 - Utopia is near!

Become climate neutral by 2035? Yes, Europe has a stronger climate target, Germany just exceeded its. So everything is fine? Not at all. There is still no way of keeping global warming below two degrees, or even better at 1.5 degrees. Only then will the most serious consequences of global warming be avoided. How theory is put into practice will be the central question in the election year.

The possibilities are there: we could have made it as early as 2035. This was shown for the first time in 2020 by a study by Fridays for Future, Wuppertal Institute and GLS Bank.

More about this in the video of our lecture on December 9, 2020. We answer the questions from the chat of the participants below.

What are key results?

  • If we don't want global warming to rise above 1.5 degrees, we have to stop emitting greenhouse gases. The sooner that happens, the better. You can find Germany's current climate targets here.
  • The researchers analyzed the areas that account for 90 percent of emissions: transport, industry, energy, construction.
  • Less and better: A traffic turnaround with 30 million fewer cars, no domestic flights and only climate-friendly drives. Meaningful mobility thanks to public transport, sharing and home office.
  • Much more energy from wind and solar, plus green hydrogen.
  • Climate-neutral factories, circular economy and a CO2 price that is high enough to have a real steering effect.
  • Our buildings need to be renovated (4% per year, currently 1%) and our heating systems have to be operated sustainably.
  • You can find more information here.

Climate neutral - what can I do?

Inform me, think about my way of life and pay attention to the levers. For example, heating energy has a much greater effect than avoiding plastic bags. The Federal Environment Agency's CO2 calculator provides an initial overview of your own CO2 footprint. Then I can turn the important screws, especially energy, heat, mobility.

I can adjust my consumption and demand sustainability from companies.

Bringing my MPs closer to climate protection, no matter where. I can send you the study, ask how we should become climate neutral, compare announcements with regard to their climate impacts. If I need more information, Fridays for Future and many other sustainable actors will provide impetus (we too, of course).

Sebastian Grieme from Fridays for Future says: “We have to start thinking about measures from the 1.5 degree target and finally talk about the necessary measures to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees. This is exactly what the study by the Wuppertal Institute makes possible. "

What should politics do?

An appropriate CO2 price would be important. Then it would be more expensive for companies to blow carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. The researchers explain that a high price would automatically make all climate-neutral key technologies cheaper. Wind turbines are better off than coal-fired power plants, e-cars are better than diesel, and trains are better off than planes. From 2021, 25 euros per ton of CO2 emitted will be due in Germany. For a real climate impact, the price would have to be much higher, experts speak of up to 180 euros per ton.

The grand coalition has done too little for climate protection in Germany. After all, the EU initiated the Green New Deal to make Europe climate neutral. Unfortunately, this is not reflected in agricultural policy, for example.

Now is the time for YOUR QUESTIONS from the online event. Feel free to ask further questions in the comments! We will add the answers here on an ongoing basis.

"Was the study examined (peer review)?"
The study was presented to several scientists from well-known institutions in advance. You can find more information on this in the study.

“Is there a connection to the book“ Handbuch Klimaschutz ”? Is there an opinion on German Zero? "
The budget approach pursued in the study differs from that of the “Handbuch Klimaschutz” in that the study does not include any activities outside Germany. As a result, the study works with a lower overall budget, which is based on the same per capita emissions budgets worldwide.
If it should be possible to support the activities of other countries substantially, this could either make the domestic path more moderate or increase the probability of actually staying below a warming of 1.5 ° C.

"Statement in the study: 'In order to achieve the 1.5 degree target with a probability of 50%, Germany will have a remaining budget of 4.2 Gt CO2 from 2020.‘ How do you come to a 50% probability? "
This probability is based on statements of the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” IPCC, which indicates probable temperature developments for various global CO2 budgets. For a higher probability of staying below a temperature increase of 1.5 ° C, the remaining budget would be greatly reduced again.

"What happens when we get into a 'hot time'?"
A slide into a new cycle, in which our planet then oscillates between very hot and warm times over millennia, contrasts with the recent history of the earth, where we oscillated between ice and warm times. Compliance with the 1.5 ° C limit aims to avoid this dynamic in order to “only” have to deal with serious changes that do not cause the entire system to tip over. A hot period becomes more likely, the more tipping elements of the earth system are exceeded. This risk increases sharply above a temperature rise of 1.5 ° C.
The IPCC report comparing 1.5 ° C and 2 ° C clearly shows that there are already very large differences in this temperature range - long before a hot period would occur. Among other things, the number and intensity of heat waves in Central Europe is increasing sharply and precipitation is becoming significantly more irregular, which is likely to lead to more flooding, erosion and poor harvests.

"Wouldn't it be more constructive to focus on Asia, where around 90% of emissions occur, instead of consuming immense resources here?"
First of all: China, the USA and India are responsible for almost half of CO2 emissions. In addition, Germany and the EU must live up to their own responsibility so that, secondly, they can demand climate protection from other actors and thirdly, the polluters are already interwoven via the global supply chains. German corporations produce in Asia, whose products we consume here.

"Are there any calculations for (unsustainable) CO2 savings due to the corona pandemic?"
Just published by Agora Energiewende. Also from the “Global Carbon Project”. But there is no reason to give the all-clear, believes the UN.

"Were the emissions from the upstream value chain factored into the study (expansion of onshore and offshore wind energy, photovoltaics, public transport, e-mobility, building renovation, hydrogen, etc.)? Will the conversion to a climate-neutral economy not itself cause too many emissions? "
The emissions are implicitly included, since the construction of new plants is made from materials from the basic industry. The total requirements for materials have been estimated and the assumption made that the renovation will not require any more basic materials such as steel, basic chemicals and concrete than is currently the case. Over time, these will then be (largely) produced in a climate-neutral manner.

“Where should the green hydrogen come from? Thyssen-Krupp alone wants 750,000 t per year in 2030. "
Hydrogen should at least partly be produced within Germany with the help of renewable energies [70-90 GW], which requires production plus an appropriate network. In addition, green hydrogen would have to be imported and other solutions used (sufficiency, Power to X, etc.).

"What should be the first concrete steps for 2021?"
Emissions must fall extremely in the years immediately ahead of us. The current federal government's climate goals deviate significantly from the 1.5 degree path, which is why the next federal government is of crucial importance. Framework conditions must be created quickly that make sustainable action easy and inexpensive, while climate-damaging action is unattractive and expensive. This includes an effective CO2 price as well as the abolition of climate-damaging subsidies as well as efficiency regulations and social innovations. The costs and benefits of change must be distributed in a socially balanced way.


“Why is there so little talk about the extremely harmful effects of e-mobility on the environment? What about the disposal of the batteries? "
The study advocates a turnaround with 50 percent fewer cars, no more domestic flights, and no new highways. Instead, twice as much public transport, better bike and footpaths. It's true that rare earths are problematic (even for smartphones or laptops). At least half of it has to be recycled, there is vigorous research into a higher quota (see here, here).

"What is the share of the global military sectors (industry, transport, aircraft, etc ..)?"
Quite significant, the US military alone has higher emissions than many countries (see here, here).


"What alternatives are there for gas and oil heating?"
The study suggests heat pumps, solar thermal collector systems or green local or district heating. Heating systems can be electrified in industry. Where systems cannot be exchanged, they have to be supplied synthetically. Recommendations about here and here).

"How can CO2 that is released in cement production be bound in a meaningful way?"
On the one hand through CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) on the cement kilns. And also about the fact that the concrete can absorb some of the CO2 again if it is treated accordingly. Otherwise, strategies are necessary here that are used overall to achieve negative emissions - including the filtering of CO2 from the air (direct air capture) plus CCS, and carbon sequestration in plants and soils, e.g. B. through well-considered and site-adapted reforestation, humus build-up, moor rewetting etc ..

"Are there any CCS processes that can be used today?"
The first projects are already being implemented, e.g. in the North Sea and Iceland. Depending on the process, there is still a need for further development. In the next five years we will see major developments and large-scale applications here. It should be noted that the type of final disposal is very different depending on the planned storage site, in terms of stability, costs and level of experience.


"How likely is it that the significantly increased demand for electricity will ultimately only be possible in a climate-friendly manner by restarting the nuclear industry?"
Unfortunately, many proponents are still proponents. Officially, the topic seems closed (example 1, example 2), but not in other countries. Fusion technology is currently attracting attention. But with the expansion of renewable and better storage options, the turnaround will be more and more worthwhile.

GLS Bank

"Does GLS offer rewards for borrowers if they improve their carbon footprint?"
Together with our customers, we record their climate impact (see also here) and help them improve. We show solutions and mediate partners from our network. This will lead to less energy consumption and more efficiency. Ultimately, companies increase their resilience through more sustainability, which is ultimately reflected in access to credit. We have developed visions of the future for each industry in order to strengthen the sustainable impact of the GLS community. The transformation will be a key task for the next few years (more in the “Transformation” section of the benchmark).

"Why are no accounts offered that compensate for CO2?"
The 1.5 degree target cannot be achieved through compensation. We have to drastically reduce them as a society, as a company, as individuals. That is why we prefer to ensure that our customers' funds are only used in accordance with the 1.5 degree target. To this end, we have introduced an impact measurement. It will help us to accompany companies on their path to neutrality.

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Julian Mertens is a communication officer and deputy. Press officer. He prefers to tell stories of optimists who lead the way with their ideas and show what is possible.