Germany's Habeck fears uncontrolled global warming

19.03.2024, 15:53

By Martina Herzog, dpa

Germany's Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck has warned in strong terms of the uncontrollable momentum of global warming.

"We may be on the verge of global warming, in this case the warming of the oceans, actually getting out of control," the Green politician said on Tuesday in Berlin at an international energy transition conference.

The temperature in the world's oceans has been at record levels for around a year now. "There will be storms, winds and hurricane floods that we will find difficult to control," warned Habeck. "That worries me deeply."

Habeck said that in addition to dealing with current crises, politicians must take strategic countermeasures against global warming.

"It is the task of our political generation to find solutions and implement them. If we don't do this, alongside everything else we need to do, we will have failed as a political generation," he said.

He called for the switch to renewable energies to be driven forward worldwide, including through trade.

In a report published on the margins of the conference, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) warned that the target agreed at last year's climate conference in Dubai to triple the capacity of renewable energies by 2030 could only be achieved with considerable additional efforts.  

On average, almost 1,100 gigawatts (GW) of extra capacity would have to be installed annually by then - more than twice as much as the 473 GW added in the record year of 2023.

According to the report, renewable energies grew primarily in China, the EU and the US, which together accounted for 83% of global growth. Developing countries in particular lagged behind.

At the 2015 World Climate Conference in Paris countries agreed to limit global warming - and thus its potentially catastrophic consequences for humanity - to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times.

Many experts believe this is now barely possible, but any lower limit on the rise in temperature is still worthwhile.

"We all know that we are not on a 1.5-degree path, so we need to do more and do it faster," warned Habeck.

Germany's climate and energy policy was praised at the conference by Fatih Birol, director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), who congratulated the German government on its course.

According to preliminary figures published by the German Environment Agency on Friday, German greenhouse gas emissions fell by more than 10% last year, although this is also due to the poor economic situation.

Birol cited the conversion of the energy sector away from fossil fuels and the slump in industrial production as reasons. However, this was an inherited problem, the result of decades of dependence on a key supplier that had long delivered cheaply, Birol said in an obvious reference to Germany's long-time main gas supplier Russia.

"It was a historic strategic mistake," he said.