Especially in the industrialized countries, CO₂ emissions per capita are far too high. In Germany, for example, they are 8,600 kilograms per year. How does that add up?
About one third is produced when burning coal, oil and gas to generate electricity. The heating of buildings contributes another sixth of the emissions. Roughly a quarter comes from the transport sector, with road transport accounting for the largest share. Another quarter is attributed to industry. Together with the emissions from agriculture, this results in per capita emissions, which is a calculated figure. Each and every one of us contributes to this, but important commercial enterprises such as Volkswagen naturally do so to a particular degree – both through their own energy consumption and through their products, namely cars with combustion engines. That is why it is so important that Volkswagen, too, assumes responsibility and develops new solutions for clean mobility. At the moment, people and companies have completely different and much more pressing concerns, and I too have them. But unfortunately, the climate problem does not go away.
“What matters is the political framework”
To mark Earth Day on April 22, we have compiled assessments on climate change by leading scientists in a dossier. Gunnar Luderer is Deputy Chair of the Department for Sustainable Transformation Pathways at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). In an interview, he explains how individuals can act to protect the climate – and what politicians should do. In addition to his duties at PIK, Luderer is Professor for Global Energy Systems Analysis at the Technical University of Berlin.