Effective Climate Action: The Case for Greenhouse Gas Neutrality
Bill Cohen: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Oliver GedenHead of the EU/Europe Research DivisionGerman Institute for International and Security Affairs
Join Oliver Geden, a lead author of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, in the Kleinman Center Energy Forum for an expert look at greenhouse gas neutrality.
About the Lecture
Three years after the climate summit in Paris, the euphoria has largely evaporated. Although we agreed on targets holding the temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 °F), there has been little sign of additional ambition in climate change mitigation since.
The gap between emissions pathways that would be compatible with temperature targets and real-world emissions trajectories is widening. One fundamental problem is the global nature of temperature targets, which are poorly suited for catalyzing concrete national action plans and not at all suited for measuring success. In the future, climate policy should focus on the third and little-noticed Paris mitigation target: achieving net zero emissions, or greenhouse gas neutrality. Compared to temperature thresholds, targeting climate neutrality is much more precise, easier to evaluate, politically more viable, and ultimately more motivating. Since a zero-emissions goal directly tackles the actions perceived as problematic, it is much more effective in guiding policy than temperature goals. A net-zero emissions target shows policymakers, the media, and the public quite precisely what needs to be achieved. It also sends the message that we need to develop solutions in all sectors, including the hard-to-tackle sectors of aviation, steel, cement, or agriculture.
About the Speaker
Oliver Geden is head of the EU/Europe Research Division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin, which advises both the German Parliament and the German Federal Government, and is the Kleinman Center's first visiting scholar of the 2018-2019 academic year. His work focuses on the European Union’s climate and energy policy, climate engineering, and the quality of scientific policy advice. Geden studied anthropology, gender studies and political science, and received a Ph.D. in social and cultural anthropology at Humboldt University Berlin. He has been a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich. During his time at SWP, he has been seconded to the Federal Foreign Office’s (AA) policy planning unit, and to the policy planning division of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).