For climate politics, an important step forwards: “Decisions are being made so painfully slowly because no one knows exactly how difficult and expensive future damages from climate change will be, and what expenditures are thus justified to limit them,” said Held to his audience of two-hundred. Now that the cost side of this equation is at least known, it should make it that much more likely that the necessary modifications – for example in the energy sector – can be pushed through politically.
A dialogue with the different regions that could accommodate future climate protection technologies, such as carbon dioxide sinks deep in the earth, will also be necessary. Scientists should accompany this dialogue, contributing to it constructively. “In sum, this is a positive for both sides. Those working to protect the climate see their minimal requirements met. At the same time, economists can live with this comparatively low ‘insurance premium’ for the consequences of climate change.”
Hermann Held has been the Professor for Sustainable Environmental Development at the University of Hamburg since September 2010, and leads a research group that goes by the same name located at the Centre for Marine and Climate Research. His introductory lecture was also the first in a new lecture series entitled "The Hamburg Lectures on Sustainability", which was initiated by the President of the University, Professor Dieter Lenzen.