Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Theses on " Rethinking EU leadership in fighting climate change"

I have been asked to come forward with a few "points" addressing the question "Rethinking EU leadership in fighting climate change". Having prepared a first draft, I would appreciate to hear comments by the readers of Klimazwiebel.

Some lay-people think that "The issue that climate is changing and that elevated CO2 levels play a dominant role, is no longer controversial among climate scientists." is a false assertion. I ask these people to restrain from contributing to this debate by ritual repetitions of long-known positions. Thanks

Addition, 10. August 2014: Thanks to constructive comments here and from a few colleagues, the text has undergone some clarifications - the final one is available at Academia.edu.

1)    Climate is changing, mostly due to anthropogenic causes; this process is underway; we can detect such changes (of the statistics of weather) mainly in increasing temperature and related variables (detection); we cannot explain these changes without considering elevated greenhouse gas concentrations (attribution) as dominant cause.
The issue that climate is changing and that elevated CO2 levels play a dominant role, is no longer controversial among climate scientists.

2)    Many other issues are still not consensually clarified, such as: the sensitivity of the climate system; the expected increase in sea level (the fate of Greenland and Antarctica), the role of climate change on storminess in tropics and extra-tropics, the role of aerosols on changing regional climate; options of adaptation and more.

3)    The climate policy of the EU as well its member states has mostly dealt with the issue of mitigation (reducing emissions) and with building a world-wide coalition to limit such emissions. This effort is enshrined in the 2-degree goal.

Little has been invested into the question of what to do if the 2 degree goal is passed (a probable development) – and which options are available in this case when really catastrophic developments would emerge. The issue of adaptation has not been dealt with for a long time, and has been taken up only recently.

4)    The EU policy has failed to reach its goals – namely to mobilize a world-wide sufficient reduction of emissions through top-down regulation and legislation. Instead its representatives have contributed to the catastrophe-rhetoric, which has given significant public backlash for taking climate change seriously. Instead, “fighting climate change” has become a synonym for empty talk and preaching to the converted, without significant effects.

5)    For regaining momentum, and efficiency for dealing with climate change (limiting it to the extent achievable; dealing with the un-avoided consequences; preparing for emergency measures), possible avenues are:
- supporting modernization of products and organizational matters, which make “climate friendly” efforts not only “morally” attractive but first of all economically attractive. This is something, the EU is particularly well suited to do because of the high technological skills in its member countries.
- making “efficiency” the key quality of climate protection efforts; clarification that symbolic acts are not efficient -  but merely symbolic acts, which will hardly have an effect on, say, East Asian emissions.
- employing a sustainable rhetoric about climate change and climate policy, which is not permanently pointing to imminent or future catastrophe, which is not trying to relate all natural catastrophes to man-made climate change.
- Supporting adaptation efforts according to (regional) climate/landscapes and not according to national borders (such as North Sea low-lands, the Baltic Sea catchment …)
– encouraging science which is not mainly trying to confirm the
dominance of detrimental greenhouse gas effects, but which follows an open research agenda, with attempts of falsification, consideration of other drivers, examination of skill of climate models, development of time-dependent adaptation and decision paths etc.


Hans von Storch said...

Marcel Crok tried to place a comment, but faced some problems - therefore II am doing it for him with his permission:

I tried to post a comment on Klimazwiebel but the spam robot text was replaced by a advertorial so I couldn't post it.

nice summary and suggestions.
Although you don't want discussion on your first sentence I would still advise to change "dominant" into "considerable".
It's to early to really claim that GHGs nowadays are dominant. No acceleration in sea level rise since 1900, little warming in the last 20 years during which models now have been "falsified" (your own work and Fyfe et al), more and more indications that climate sensitivity is on the low end or even lower of the IPCC likely range (see my report with Nic Lewis). So "considerable" takes a lot of pressure out of this sentence and will change little to your overall message.

richardtol said...

Leaders need followers.

To date, few countries (any? even South Korea is wavering) seems to want to follow the self-proclaimed leaders in the EU.

MikeR said...

I enjoyed this summary. Thanks.

Günter Heß said...

Dear Hans von Storch,
Because you are talking about leadership and rethinking, I do miss a few points.
I think such an adress should comment on the stakeholders in the process of fighting climate change.
NGOs, Politics, People, Industry, Academia....
Who is taking the lead, who is steering the process?
My opinion for a sucessful process. Industry should lead, politics needs to steer and academia should be in support. Right now we see a detrimental fight for leadership between academia, politics, NGOs.
Best Regards

Werner Krauss said...


your arguments are based on oppositions like "economically attractive" versus "morally attractive" and "efficiency" versus "symbolic acts", and as a conclusion you argue for "modernization".

On the level of "I know what you mean" this is okay; I would translate it as: we should act instead of talk.

But on a closer look your argument seems to me confusing or even contradictory. I hope my following considerations will help to sharpen your argument:

It was exactly the separation of economy and morals and of efficiency (economy) and symbolic acts (culture) that formed the basis of modernity, of industrialization at any price - and, consequently, of the emission problem.

To illustrate my point, here an example from another field:

to bring morals back into economy led to basic rights of the working classes and to the development of the Welfare State. Not that bad, I guess...

Or Willy Brandt's going down on his knees in Warsaw was a symbolic act that probably contributed as much as the "efficiency" of starting an arm's race (Nachrüstung) to end the Cold War.

There is an-age long debate of the concept and philosophy of modernity and modernization; to preach now "modernization" and (technological) "efficiency" as a solution to the climate problem sounds too naive to me.

Furthermore, separating mitigation and adaptation again (in favor of adaptation now) is a symbolic act itself; a symbolic act that (maybe involuntarily) enables policies to save emission-intensive industries from the evils of climate change that they helped to produce; that is, a diabolic answer to face the emission challenge. (And one that is actually most likely to be put into practice due to the "lead of industry" that Günther Hess suggests).

To sum up, I doubt that a general belief in technological efficiency and "modernization" alone helps a lot. On the "I know what you mean" level, I share the critique of the failure of green policies or restricting them to morally attractive lifestyle changes; but neither green morals nor those symbolic acts caused the emission problem - they only failed to solve it. So we need better ones instead of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Quentin Quencher said...

Eine europäische Führungsrolle ist völlig unmöglich, wenn sie die globalen Entwicklungen nicht ausreichend berücksichtigt:

„The U.S. shale-gas boom is placing 30 million jobs at risk in Europe as companies with greater reliance on energy contend with higher fuel prices than their American counterparts, the International Energy Agency said. “

30 Millionen Jobs, derjenige der das bieten kann, wird der Leader sein. Alles andere sind, wie man so sagt, akademische Fragen.

Werner Krauss said...

Quentin Quencher,

ob ökologisch, klimatisch oder hier nun ökonomisch: Determinismen sind doof, empirisch falsch und führen zu schlechter Politik.

Hans von Storch said...

when scribbling down my "points", I put little weight on the word "leadership". My points were more into the direction of "let's make sure that we do something about it".

But ... the proclaimed leadership was something I always found irritating. Would you, Richard, say that there was a EU-leadership in the past? Did the EU cause other governments or regions in the world, to do something beyond symbolic acts about climate change, be it mitigation or adaptation? Has the EU leadership lead to significant reductions of emissions in the Southern and Eastern European countries, whom I perceive as having been less enthusiastic in the beginning?

richardtol said...

The countries of Europe's northwest have, of course, successfully used the institutions of the European Union to impose environmental targets on Europe's south and east (in return for Structural Funds, accession etc).

Australia and South Korea seemed inspired by the European example, but the former has backtracked and the latter is having second thoughts.

European companies (e.g., BMW, Rolls Royce, Siemens, Vestas) have successfully exported technologies that may have been developed in response to European climate policy.

@ReinerGrundmann said...


"Determinismen sind doof, empirisch falsch und führen zu schlechter Politik."

Well, here we got a nice deterministic statement.


S.Hader said...

Hallo Quentin Quencher, man muss ja kein Experte sein, um zumindest mal bestimmte Aussagen auf Plausibilität zu prüfen. Wie groß ist die Arbeitslosigkeit der EU heute? Die Quote liegt momentan bei ca. 10-11%, das entspricht ungefähr 26 Millionen arbeitslosen Menschen. Wenn das mit der Gefährdung von 30 Millionen Arbeitsplätzen wirklich stimmen sollte, dann müsste sich die Arbeitslosenquote mehr als verdoppeln. Das hat selbst die Weltwirtschaftskrise vor Jahren nicht ansatzweise hinbekommen, aber billigere Erdgaspreise in den USA sollen das bewerkstelligen können?

Es gibt eine Größe, mit der man den Energieaufwand in der Wirtschaft ausdrückt. Es ist die Energieintensität, die man als Öläquivalent in kg pro Geldeinheit angibt. Je mehr Energie man für die Erwirtschaftung eines bestimmten Geldbetrages benötigt, umso größer ist der Wert. Also ein durchaus brauchbarer Indikator, um die Abhängigkeit von Erdgas, Kohle, Öl usw. für die jeweiligen Arbeitsplätze auszudrücken. In der EU waren es 2008 151,6 kg Öl pro 1000 Euro, in den USA 180,7 kg. Für die EU ist das natürlich ein Durchschnittswert. In Ländern, die viele energieintensive Industriearbeitsplätze nach altem Stil haben (wie in Osteuropa) kann der Wert wesentlich höher sein. Trotzdem kann man sagen, die USA ist noch eher auf billige Brennstoffe angewiesen als Europa. In einem Hochtechnologieland wie Japan ist der Energieverbrauch pro Wertschöpfung noch etwas geringer (90,1 kg).

Wenn man dass alles mit beachtet, dann komme ich eher zu dem Schluss, dass die von Ihnen angeführte Quelle weitgehend Panikmache darstellt. Ärgerlich ist dabei nicht, dass solche Aussagen im Netz und den Medien kursieren, sondern das Sie als selbsternannter Skeptiker das ungeprüft und unreflektiert übernehmen.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

Herr Hader,

die International Energy Agency und Fatih Birol sind nicht irgendwer. Die Zahl von 30m mag spekulativ oder alarmierend sein, trifft aber einen wichtigen Punkt. Im Zeitalter der Globalisierung wird die Tendenz zur Kostensenkung immer schneller immer weiter getrieben. Wenn sich der Standort Europa als im Energiebereich als zu kostenintensiv erweist wird das Kapital in Länder abwandern, wo die Energie günstiger zu haben ist.

Die oben angesprochene Führungsrolle europäischer Unternehmen sollte ja einen Wettbewerbsvorteil bringen, indem man Marktführer in RE Technologien wird. Das mag in manchen Bereichen der Fall sein (Windkraft), aber nicht in allen (Solar). Die USA hat den Vorteil, dass shale gas sehr günstig zu haben ist, und konstant zur Verfügung steht. Wenn energieintensive Unternehmen langfristige Entscheidungen treffen, dann sind diese Erwägungen nicht von der Hand zu weisen.

S.Hader said...

Sehr geehrter Herr Grundmann, es geht mir nicht darum, die Bedeutung von Rohstoffpreisen für unser Wirtschafssystem abzustreiten. Mir geht es darum, einen kritischen, ja, skeptischen Blick auf Aussagen jeglicher zu wahren. Auch wenn die Aussage vom International Energy Agency stammt, befreit sie uns nicht, sie kritisch auf Plausibilität zu prüfen, wenn es um die Größenordnung der genannten Zahlen geht. Fällt Ihnen das etwa schwer?

S.Hader said...

Sehr geehrter Quentin Quencher, Erdgas ist nicht beliebig auf der gesamten Erde transportierbar, ohne nicht erhebliche zusätzliche Kosten in Kauf zu nehmen. Das gilt insbesondere dann, wenn man das Gas nicht über Leitungen, sondern über Schiffe über einen ganzen Ozean transportieren muss. Der angebliche Exportboom der USA wird sich allein deshalb sehr in Grenzen halten.

"Wenn die EU eine Führungsrolle im Kampf gegen den Klimawandel einnehmen will, muss sie eine Antwort geben wie auf den »shale-gas boom« reagiert werden soll."


Die Sache mit dem Klimaschutz ist im Grunde relativ einfach, auch wenn die Umsetzung schwierig ist. Die G20-Staaten umfassen mehr als 85% der gesamten Wirtschaftskraft. In derselben Größenordnung liegen auch deren CO2-Bilanzen. Wenn man Klimaschutz erreichen will, müssen diese G20-Staaten ihre CO2- und Methan-Emissionen wesentlich reduzieren. Wie das jedes einzelne Land macht, ist denen selbst überlassen. Wenn shale gas in einigen Ländern dazu führt, dass weniger Kohle in Kraftwerken verbrannt wird, ist das auch nicht das verkehrteste. Wenn andere Länder die Produktionstechniken für shale gas für sich ablehnen, weil sie gesundheitliche Bedenken haben, ist das genauso legitim. Es gilt hier Interessen auszugleichen.

"Auch die Fragen, was denn nun besser sei, Anpassung oder Vermeidung, geraten immer mehr in den Hintergrund weil anderswo Fakten geschaffen werden die uns schon zu erreichen beginnen. Industrieabwanderung."

@QQ, versuchen Sie doch mal die Abwanderung in Zahlen zu fassen. Was ich da bisher höre, sind besagte Panikmache und warnende Worte, aber seltsamerweise keine Empirie.

"Und dann gibt es noch einen ganz andern Spielverderber, und das ist die derzeit wirklich nicht besonders schöne globale politische Situation. Kriege an allen Ecken und Enden. Spannungen der verschiedensten Arten in Asien, in Afrika, insbesondere der arabischen Welt, können dazu führen, dass so großartig angestrebte globale Aufgaben wie der Klimaschutz zunehmend bedeutungslos werden."

Aufgaben verschwinden nicht dadurch, indem man die Aufmerksamkeit auf andere Punkte lenkt. Kleine Kinder mögen das für eine angebrachte Problembewältigungsstrategie halten, was ich nicht sehe, existiert auch nicht mehr. Die Probleme eines schnellen Klimawandels werden nicht geringer, weil temporär lokale Konflikte existieren. Ihre Argumentation fußt auf dem Prinzip, wir müssen uns um den Waldbrand da draußen nicht kümmern, weil die Hausbewohner genug eigene Sorgen haben.

"Vor allem weil immer offensichtlicher wird, dass es eine globale Gemeinschaft, eine die sich einer gemeinsamen Aufgabe widmet, nicht gibt."

Ich sagte ja schon, dass die zu bewältigende Aufgabe schwierig zu lösen ist. Letztlich handelt es sich um ein Gefangenendilemma. Die Beteiligten können momentan durch höhere CO2-Emissionen wirtschaftliche Vorteile gegenüber anderen Staaten herausschlagen, in der Gesamtbilanz steht man am Ende aber schlechter da. Da stellt sich eher die Frage, will man Leader einer geschädigten Welt sein oder ein Kooperationspartner in einer gemäßigten Welt. Ich persönlich würde sagen, die Bereitschaft zur Kooperation ist oft eine Frage des Leidendrucks und der Einsicht. Beides ist scheinbar noch nicht stark genug ausgeprägt, was aber eher eine Frage der Zeit ist. So ein abwartendes Verhalten kennt man durchaus auch im privaten Umfeld, Probleme soweit aussitzen, bis die Entscheidungsfreiheit von alleine eingeschränkt ist. ;)

Apropos, gibt es eigentlich empirische Studien, die sich mit der Sichtweise der Weltbevölkerung zur Relevanz der Klimaproblematik beschäftigt? Yepp, die gibt es, aber vermutlich gefallen wird sie Ihnen nicht. ^^



Werner Krauss said...

Here is a statement of the EU concerning its climate policy and leading role:

The following excerpt seems to contradict Hans' statement concerning adaptation:

"In parallel, the European Commission and a number of Member States have developed adaptation strategies to help strengthen Europe's resilience to the inevitable impacts of climate change."

Bugs Bunny said...


I told the same to Eduardo (Spanish adaptation plan). Eduardo answered: he spoke with politicians or so and he was disappointed. On the one hand, there are papers, reports, presentations, cloudy plans, on the other hand, there are actually actions and real plans. Of course, there are adaptations like the flood protection plan in the Netherlands, flood protection in Germany, etc. Maybe, it is not enough and not good enough.

That means, here are some national plans, but von Storch stressed the point: one has to consider super-national regions, i.e., an European or even larger (North Africa, Middle East) solutions.

PS: leader role. One example: Germany and the "Energiewende": there are many people in other countries who think this is great, others think it is not great. So, Germany is not leading, but it is an example. There is a second example of an "Energiewende": UK. UK tries it with nuclear power. Until now: they are quite unsuccessful. EDF is the only supplier that agreed to build a power plant... for astronomical subsidies.

Is "Example" a better word than leader? Or is this to weak to be a goal?

Bugs Bunny

Hans von Storch said...

I want to thank you all for your contributions; it is amazing to see how easily things are not understood as intended by me. Sometimes it may be because some want to read something into my position, which is simply not written. But that means the text needs better and more misunderstanding-proof writing.

One issue, however, the regional adaptation "Supporting adaptation efforts according to (regional) climate/landscapes and not according to national borders (such as North Sea low-lands, the Baltic Sea catchment …)" I would like to clarify here: This calls for regional activities, across national borders. I guess "super-national" does not cover such regions, because such regions may not contain any "nation", but only parts, like Skåne, Sjælland and Schleswig-Holstein. Such activities call for different governance. It is not so that such activities do not exist, but they are still rare and not part of a seriously meant strategy on the European level.

Hans von Storch said...

As I want to submit my theses soon (vacations are coming to an end), I have revised the "points" responding to some of the comments made here - if someone wants to have a look, please refer to this academia-site, where also the final version will be available, if some additional revisions will be advisable.

Anonymous said...

I think you also have to think of the options. Right now, the US is fracking and is making natural gas at half to a third the cost on the continent. Coal is being replaced by gas. The bizarre state of affairs is that the brutish ruffian Americans are making the Kyoto goals the Euros aren't! The Germans also closed their nuke plants and actually moved to coal.

My mother is a typical German-speaking environmentalist. Not even liberal politically (with respect to welfare or defense), but on enviro-stuff she is right with her fellow Germans (no GMOs, pro recycling, no fracking, no global warming, etc.) But asked about options, she actually said she preferred coal to fracking. I don't know, but I bet she would prefer coal or gas to nuclear. Yet, nukes emit no carbon.

And then you have the plight of German industry and electronic grid with dealing with all the renewable energy. And does German rainy cold climate make sense for solar or is that feel good stuff like separating recyclables that really end up in the trash anyhow).

So...I really think more thinking about options (which is more evil amongst nukes, coal, gas) is needed. And then even thinking about if it is worth it to take actions to avert climate change or if we're just better off economically letting it happen (time value of money argument for instance).

Leonard Weinstein said...

Since the only period of time where the temperature was rising above the 1940 level was 1980 through 1998, and since the temperature rise before that time period cannot be claimed to be due to human activity, and since the temperature has not increased since 1998, how can you possibly claim item 1. If you can quote even one falsifiable item that uniquely is associated with human CO2 production causing global warming, please tell me. I know CO2 is an absorbing gas, but cloud feedback, and other causes may nearly cancel that, and we do not know otherwise at this time

Hans von Storch said...

Irgendwie bin ich ja froh, dass Herr Weinstein hier seinen persönlichen Unsinn mal wieder gebracht hat. Was belegt, dass er entweder nicht lesen kann ("I ask these people to restrain from contributing to this debate by ritual repetitions of long-known positions") oder einfach ein unhöflicher Rüpel ist.
Andererseits soll jeder seine Meinung sagen, auch wenn es ausgemachter Blödsinn ist, und diese Position schon mehrfach dargestellt wurde hier auf der Klimazwiebel.

Aber ab jetzt versuchen wir uns zu benehmen, ja, Herr Weinstein?

My standard procedure would have been to delete Weinstein's comment - after the "I ask ... to restrain from contributing to this debate by ritual repetitions of long-known positions" but this one may serve as a good example of what we should try to avoid in debates like this.

The claim "the only period of time where the temperature was rising above the 1940 level was 1980 through 1998" is daring, I have to admit.

Leonard Weinstein said...

This was not a ritual repetition of long known positions, it is stating facts that make your comment #1 not supported. I asked for a single piece of clear support for that statement, and you just assume it true because a counting of heads on opinion says so, not any facts. I repeat, there has been no expected rise in temperature for at least 17 years, so how is this a claim that no explanation for previous short period of rise is found without the CO2 effect. Why has the effect stopped? If you make positive claims, you need at least reasonable supporting evidence.

Leonard Weinstein said...

Look at: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/global-land-ocean-mntp-anom/201101-201112.png
This is the official total global temperature 1880 to present. Note that the temperature did not rise above the 1940 level until after 1980. While the next several years will clarify the validity of my claim or yours, I think your definite statement is clearly premature at best.

jgdes said...

Worse, it is a counting of heads of people who would be largely unemployed or at least less well funded if they admitted the truth that they don't have a clue about what drives climate. Without oversight or repercussions for being wrong this has been no more than an unscientific, self-perpetuating dogma.