News Release 

RNE and Leopoldina call for swift action -- lay the foundations for climate neutrality now


Research News

The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) have published a joint position paper presenting paths to climate neutrality by 2050. In it, the Leopoldina and the RNE highlight options for action to effect the changes needed within society, at political level and in the business world, in view especially of the urgency and the historic dimensions of the transformation we face. With the paper, the Leopoldina and the RNE are consciously not seeking to engage in a race to set the most ambitious target. They are instead offering an options paper for setting the right course and covering the key implementation steps. The position paper was presented at the RNE's 20th annual conference and was handed over to the Federal Chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel.

"The opportunities presented by the European Green Deal, the new US administration and additional climate commitments made by, for example, China and the G7 must now be exploited to expand and reinforce international climate protection alliances," says Prof. (ETHZ) Dr Gerald Haug, President of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. "In addition to a global carbon price, what's needed are foresighted, cross-sector investments in infrastructure expansion and in new climate-friendly technologies," Haug continues.

Dr Werner Schnappauf, Chairman of the RNE, points to the importance of the project often being underestimated: "Action on an entirely different scale is needed to bring about a real transformation. A fundamental change in direction is necessary in order to achieve climate neutrality. The decarbonisation of industry alone will require up to four times the current volume of energy from renewable sources." This illustrates how quickly renewable energies and the related networks need to be expanded in the years to come, he says. "As much green electricity as possible being made available as quickly and as affordably as possible will be crucial here," Schnappauf emphasises. The citizens need to be involved and their engagement promoted to achieve the changes this entails, he says. "This challenge of the century calls for swift action that does justice to our responsibility towards the young and future generations," says Schnappauf.

The authors focus on carbon emissions trading as the lead instrument with which to realise the transformation, embedded in an overall climate policy strategy that includes regulatory framework, funding and governance policy. A broad mobilisation of private capital will also be needed, they argue, which in turns requires long-term security of investment.

Another key assertion of the position paper is that climate protection can only unfold the necessary impact if pursued at the European level as part of the European Green Deal and ultimately also globally. In addition to options in the area of market policy action, the authors address the issues of financing, foreign policy, international solidarity, social equity and education.

The joint position paper can be found here:


About the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

As the German National Academy of Sciences, the Leopoldina provides independent science-based policy advice on matters relevant to society. To this end, the Academy develops interdisciplinary statements based on scientific findings. In these publications, options for action are outlined; making decisions, however, is the responsibility of democratically legitimized politicians. The experts who prepare the statements work in a voluntary and unbiased manner. The Leopoldina represents the German scientific community in the international academy dialogue. This includes advising the annual summits of Heads of State and Government of the G7 and G20 countries. With 1,600 members from more than 30 countries, the Leopoldina combines expertise from almost all research areas. Founded in 1652, it was appointed the National Academy of Sciences of Germany in 2008. The Leopoldina is committed to the common good.

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About the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE)

The German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) advises the Federal Government on issues of sustainability policy. It acts in this capacity as an independent entity, and since 2001 its members have been appointed every three years by the Federal Government. The Council consists of 15 public figures, comprising individuals from civil society, the business sector, the scientific community and the political arena. It has been chaired since 2020 by Dr Werner Schnappauf and his deputy, Prof. Dr Imme Scholz. The Council also carries out its own projects aimed at advancing the topic of sustainability in practical terms. In addition, it helps shape topically focused momentum within policy and societal dialogue. The Council is supported in its activities by an administrative office based in Berlin.

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Dr Kathrin Happe, Deputy Head of the Department Science - Policy - Society
German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

Riccarda Retsch, Project Manager
German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE)

Media contacts:

Caroline Wichmann, Head of the Department Press and Public Relations
German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
Tel.: +49 (0)345 472 39-800

Marijke Eschenbach, Media Relations
German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE)
Tel.: +49 (0)30 3384 24-233

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