Planet in Transition: A Roadmap to the Global 2°C Target


In our second semester as master students at the School of Integrated Climate System Sciences, a course titled ‘Uncertain 2 Degrees’ allowed us to explore the perspective of various stakeholders engaged with the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2 degree climate target. Numerous discussions sprouting from role-plays held during the course led us to different scenarios but we remained curious to learn how a discourse between academics, scientists, journalists and politicians plays out in the real world and where we stand when it comes to gauging progress on the 2 degree target. So we invited experts from these fields to a climate panel - ‘Planet In Transition: A roadmap to the 2 Degree target’- to learn what needs to be done next both at a collective and individual level.

Guest speakers included Universität Hamburg's own enviro-economist Grischa Perino, researcher at the Faculty for Economics and Social Sciences, Jessica  Streflar, a postdoctoral researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Stefan Schmidt, a science editor of Germany`s weekly Die ZEIT, and Hamburg's Senator for Energy and Environment Jens Kerstan. Scores of eager climate enthusiasts, students and faculty flocked to the Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN) to hear these experts discuss the 2 degree target and learn more about their areas of expertise.

The panellists differed in opinion on many issues like the rollout of a carbon tax, the ethics of geoengineering solutions and the role of personal lifestyle changes but they were certainly on the same page about us not being on track to meet the 2 degree target, going as far as to state that perhaps we are moving in the wrong direction. Of note, Jens Kerstan pointed out that carbon dioxide emissions are still growing and that both Germany and Hamburg are not providing necessary solutions. Grischa Perino unravelled the limitations of attempted economic mechanisms and Stefan Schmidt pointed out that rural citizens will be hit hardest by a carbon price. Jessica Streflar, despite being a proponent of geoengineering solutions, admitted that the geoengineering solutions that could potentially change the tide are not yet available for mass-use.

The audience raised some interesting questions - asking if nuclear could be or should be a part of the energy solution and if totalitarianism would do better at meeting the climate target than democracy. The panel ended with a consensus on the need for a fair, fast and logical carbon taxing system and made clear to the audience that if we are to meet the 2 degree target, radical solutions must be sought and put into practice faster than they currently appear to be.