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German Scientific Advisory Board: Adaptation Rather Than Mitigation

Scientific Advisory Board Against Unilateral Climate Targets

BERLIN, 12 March. The Scientific Advisory Board of [Germany’s] Federal Ministry of Finance in its latest report deals with climate policy – and this is the remarkable result: Instead of promoting wind power and photovoltaic power generation to reduce emissions and halt climate change, the government should do everything to minimise its negative consequences.

The results of the analysis is unlikely to be popular. The release of the report planned for Friday was cancelled, but the controversial report by  economists is already posted on the Ministry’s website.

The advisors are decidedly critical of national unilateralism and the leading role of individual states setting unilateral emission reduction targets. The scientists argue that this could even be harmful. It might even tempt other countries to relax their climate policy efforts. This could also worsen the chances for a global international climate agreement.

“A national policy which primarily focuses on national measures and hopes for international agreements to reduce emissions has little prospect of success,” they warn. “National advances and unilateral emission reduction targets prove to be particularly expensive and unhelpful.” A rational climate policy should focus more on adaptation measures. [….] 

A state that imposes a carbon tax or emissions reductions on its industry or its population bears the full cost but will have only a small share of any benefits. The greater part of the benefits arises elsewhere. Given the problems of these international “public goods,” only a world government would be able to prevent free-riding countries. International climate negotiations, however, remain deadlocked as the summit in Copenhagen has demonstrated.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 13 March 2010

see also Government Advisors Warn Against Unilateral Climate Policy