UBA President Messner in the “climate laboratory”: “40 percent of people expect their economic decline”

Climate data is doubted, but unemployment figures are not. Or? Dirk Messner does not share this opinion. 80 to 90 percent of people want to advance climate protection in Germany quickly and ambitiously. “This extends into the AfD milieu,” he explains President of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) in ntv’s “climate laboratory”. At the same time, Messner admits that there is resistance to measures that people themselves are demanding and want to see: “40 percent of the population is convinced that the transformation is for their benefit economic decline “His solution? Climate money is “extremely” important as a relief for people, says Messner. He recommends that the federal government take an example from a promise that Angela Merkel and Peer Steinbrück made 15 years ago during the financial crisis have.

ntv.de: One of the most common questions we receive is: Where do the numbers come from? You may know this as the Office for Environmental Data: It feels like everyone is making their own calculations online. Is there a trust problem specifically when it comes to environmental and climate issues?

Dirk Messner has been President of the Federal Environment Agency since January 2020.  The authority advises the federal government on environmental and climate issues, but also reviews the goals set and what has been achieved so far.

Dirk Messner has been President of the Federal Environment Agency since January 2020. The authority advises the federal government on environmental and climate issues, but also reviews the goals set and what has been achieved so far.

(Photo: picture alliance/dpa)

Dirk Messner: There is an incredibly good control system in Europe: When we release data and analyzes, you can be sure that other research institutes will look at it the next day. There is a high degree of mutual control. Climate research in particular is the best international learning network in science. There is no other field of research in which all the knowledge produced is constantly checked in the United Nations climate reports.

And yet climate data is doubted, but unemployment figures are not.

I don’t have that impression. I often travel to the USA, where a significant part of society views climate change as a whole critically and basically considers it to be fake news. Even former presidents like Donald Trump belong to this group. This is neither the case in Europe nor in Germany. We do one every two years Study on environmental awareness in Germany with questions such as: What do people think of environmental policy, how do they view environmental problems or the solution strategies that the parties offer? 80 to 90 percent say climate neutrality must be advanced quickly and ambitiously in Germany. These people are obviously convinced by the environmental analyzes of institutions like the UBA.

But when the traffic lights try, as with agricultural diesel, climate-damaging subsidies to abolish it, she runs into protests.

This is a justice issue. Of the 68 billion euros in climate-damaging subsidies, only two were addressed: half a billion for agricultural diesel, half a billion for vehicle tax in the agricultural sector. I can understand that the group that is affected feels that they have been treated unfairly.

Where would you put the red pencil?

I would have started with diesel as a whole instead of just focusing on farmers’ diesel. That would have been 7.5 billion euros in savings for reallocations towards public investments in climate protection.

But then there would have been much larger protests.

The government has agreed that there should be no new debt and no tax increases. So savings have to be made. Every austerity approach affects certain social groups with whom you have to communicate, have a conversation and explain what you are doing and how you are ensuring fairness. No matter where you save money, you have this problem everywhere. But one should perhaps say: We don’t really have a financial problem in Germany. We are the least indebted industrial nation of the G7 countries. So there would be scope for investments in the future.

Should we abolish the debt brake?

Making the debt brake more flexible, as suggested by the five economics, would be one variant. We can also think about a climate or transformation solidarity. Because we have incredibly big goals. Being climate neutral by 2045 is a huge deal. I don’t think it’s a wise strategy to pull the brakes on investment in such a situation and lose sight of the neglected infrastructure.

In what way?

The protest is particularly large when it comes to climate protection, which directly affects everyone or very many people: when it comes to food issues, vacations and mobility, when it comes to heating in our homes. 80 million citizens feel directly addressed. This need for communication must be addressed. We probably underestimated that.

We need to do a better job of explaining to people that the heat pump will pay for itself in just a few years?

Many people thought that their own house would be their retirement insurance. They have few reserves and then the discussion arises that they would have to replace their heating and renovate the entire house. The whole debate was not objective. In addition, if you don’t give people tools that make the heating transition economically viable, it won’t work. This transformation brings with it social challenges, which is why it must be shaped socially. Climate money is of outstanding importance!

As financial compensation?

I mentioned it, 80 to 90 percent are in favor of more climate and environmental protection. This even extends to the AfD milieu. People understood the risks. Environmental awareness has been increasing for 15 or 20 years, despite all the crises. The refugee crisis, the financial market crisis can intervene: people know that environmental problems are very important. But there are two other important figures in our study: 70 percent of people no longer understand the reforms that are rolling through the country. 40 percent of the population is convinced that the transformation they demand and want to see will lead to their economic decline. These are fears of relegation.

That you have to take away from people?

It doesn’t work to just talk about instruments and money but not enough with people. They see that all sorts of things are changing in their lives. This will not be a quick transformation where one day we open the door and see a climate-neutral economy and society before us. This is not a good communication strategy. During the financial market crisis in 2008, Peer Steinbrück and Angela Merkel went before the audience and said: Your deposits are safe, we are responsible for that. The democratic parties in the Bundestag should also stand up and say: We will have many more difficult discussions about this instrument and that instrument, but when it comes to the goal of preventing dangerous climate change, we agree and are working together.

Talked to Dirk Messner Clara Pfeffer and Christian Herrmann. The conversation has been shortened and smoothed for better clarity. You can watch the entire conversation in the podcast “Climate Laboratory” listen.

Climate laboratory from ntv

What helps against climate change? “Climate Laboratory” is the podcast in which ntv puts ideas, solutions and claims through their paces. Is Germany an electricity beggar? No. Is the heat pump too expensive? Absolutely not. Is energy renovation worth it? Absolutely. CO2 prices for consumers? Inevitable. Climate killer cow? Misleading. Reforestation in the south? Exacerbates problems.

The ntv climate laboratory: half an hour every Thursday that informs, has fun and cleans up. At ntv and everywhere there are podcasts: RTL+, Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, SpotifyRSS feed

You have questions for us? Write an email to [email protected] or contact Clara Pfeffer and Christian Herrmann.

source site-34