The repercussions of climate change are already evident throughout the earth, and they have far-reaching consequences for humankind and the environment. This was confirmed yet again in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The burning of coal, gas, and oil in particular has upset the world’s energy balance. Persistent greenhouse gas emissions will precipitate continued warming and cause long-term changes in the climate. These factors compound existing risks as well as bring about new ones. The international community is discussing measures to reduce relevant emissions as part of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). But the time to take effective countermeasures is running out if we intend to maintain the recognised limit on warming of two degrees Celsius and to prevent further implications for the global climate.
‘Climate action’ involves far-reaching policy, planning, and investment decisions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to initiate changes to our current systems that will align them with the consequences of climate change. Not only does this affect government and administration, it is equally relevant to industry and society. Science is called upon to point the way, to assess options and enable decisions. On the one hand, this will require the ability to predict as precisely as possible developments in the climate, including all the trends and extreme events in terms of temperature, precipitation, and wind that the coming decades will bring. On the other hand, it is also important to assess the monetary, economic, social, and ethical consequences of climate change.
At the DLR Project Management Agency, we use our expertise in this area to offer possible solutions and structures to develop and assess a sustainable future. We recognise and indicate gaps in research while initiating and accompanying research and development measures. It is our goal to acquire climactic knowledge with substantial benefits for government, industry, and society. Many of the coordination processes this requires take place on a European or international level, for instance within the framework of the joint programme planning initiative ‘JPI Climate’. At the DLR Project Management Agency, we play a substantive role in the development of this programme.
We make sure that research resources are concentrated on the issues of current political relevance: for example, that climate models are consistently improved to ensure they provide meaningful information on extreme events; that comprehensive and resilient climate information is made available to regions, local government districts, and industry; and that this information is included within decision-making processes. In addition, innovative approaches are initiated to ensure that the economic, political and social development horizons suitably reflect the actual consequences of climate change on the ground. Among the current priorities is the empowerment of developing countries particularly affected by climate change to take more action in the interests of climate protection and adaptation.