The members of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (Wissenschaftlicher Beirat der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltveränderungen WBGU) elected Hans Joachim Schellnhuber as the new Chair and Dirk Messner as new Vice Chair on 27 February 2009. Schellnhuber is director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and has been a member of WBGU since 1992. His research focus is on climate and earth system change. Prof. Messner is Director of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and has been a member of WBGU since 2004. His research foci are the impact of climate and environmental change on developing countries, international politics and global governance structures.
The election of Schellnhuber – a natural scientist – and Messner – a political scientist – sends a clear signal to policy-makers and the public that, particularly in face of the global financial and economic crisis, neither the efforts of researching climate change nor the national and international measures for an effective environmental and climate change policy must cease. Prof. Messner explained in that respect: “The next cycle of growth in the world economy will be green. The global efforts to overcome the economic crisis show clearly which countries are grasping the opportunity at present to secure the future of their political economies by investing in climate protection, renewable and energy efficient technologies – the U.S. and South Korea are among the pioneer countries in that area, Italy is on the loosing side and Germany finds itself in a mid-range position. It is clear that countries which push the environmental and climate crisis off their political agenda because of the global economic crisis will lose their competitiveness in the medium to long term perspective.”
The new board of WBGU will seize the window of opportunity to influence international climate protection policy positively through talks with American, Chinese and other international colleagues and partners. In December a Kyoto follow-up agreement will be negotiated at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen. It will be crucial to what extent climate protection and development policy will complement each other. A successful treaty will only be negotiated in Copenhagen if the emerging and developing countries with their growing greenhouse gas emissions join the Post-2012 process and if the industrialised countries are ready to support their climate protection efforts financially and through technology transfers.
The German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) can play an important role in this regard.