Climate Protection: Policy Recommendations


In order to avoid unanticipated negative effects of climate change on ecosystems and society, it is necessary to dramatically reduce the worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Here governments are challenged to create and implement climate protection strategies. Policy-makers require scientific expertise to help make these decisions.

The Thünen Institute fulfills its obligations in this area in many ways. In 2012, the Institute presented its report on the “Preparation of Efficient and Well-Tuned Climate Protection Policy for the Agricultural Sector for the State of Lower Saxony”. On the example of Lower Saxony, measures for emission reduction of greenhouse gases from the agricultural sector were regionally differentiated, analyzed, quantified and evaluated. Corresponding to this, the cost efficiency of the climate protection measures was calculated and policy measures derived. The study appeared as Special Issue 361 of the journal "Landbauforschung" (in German).

In Thünen Report 11, in 2013 “Options for action for climate protection in German agriculture and forestry” was issued (in German).

Presentation of the Climate Protection Report to Federal Agricultural Minister Christian Schmidt (© BMEL)

In September 2016, the Scientific Councils for Agricultural Policy, Food and Consumer Health Protection (WBAE) and for Forest Policy (WBW) presented their cooperative report on Climate Protection in Agriculture and Forestry as well as in the related Areas of Food and the Use of Timber. Many scientists of the Thünen Institute cooperated on the preparation of the report: two as members of the WBAE, including the main author of the report, and one as a member of the WBW, with five contributing further as external co-authors.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions reduced by 80 to 95 Percent

Germany has set ambitious climate protection goals for itself: By 2050 it would like to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 to 95 percent in comparison to 1990. The report indicates that these climate protection goals are only achievable if agriculture, forestry, the timber industry as well as food consumers make significant contributions. At the same time the report shows that this can succeed without endangering the substance of the national agriculture, forestry and timber industries. But the climate protection goals will not be achieved by themselves. Here lawmakers are challenged to take measures for agriculture and the food industry as well as forestry and the timber industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the carbon sequestration. Consumers are also challenged to indulge in more climate friendly nutrition.  

According to the calculations of the scientific councils, the following points have the highest climate protection potential (in descending order):

  • Productive use of the forest (requires, among other things, an increase in the number of coniferous trees in renewal efforts)
  • Protection of peatlands currently used in agriculture
  • Reduction in the consumption of animal products
  • Use of fast-growing trees species from agricultural production
  • Increase in the material use of wood in long term products Improvement of the nitrogen efficiency of fertilization

The scientific councils emphasize that the recommended climate protection efforts must be tied into inter-sectoral national and European climate protection strategies. In addition they should be embedded in international climate protection accords without which effective climate protection is hardly possible.