As the Economist goes to press on August 2nd with the subheader “Losing the war against climate change”, WZW students at the Technical University Munich and faculty unite with industry, government and non-governmental organizations to highlight and debate existing mitigation goals and scenarios. Our focus is on the agricultural and “land use, land use change and forestry” (LULUCF) sectors. These sectors are described in six boxes below, covering (i) nitrous oxide, (ii) consumer behavior including meat consumption and waste reduction, (iii) grassland preservation, (iv) optimized peatland water levels and crop selection, (v) the species composition and management of our forests as well as (vi) optimized and cascading wood use.
Overall it can be seen that the German agricultural and LULUCF sectors combined have a mitigation potential of c. 80 MtCO2e in conservative scenarios and of up to 156,3 MtCO2e in ambitious scenarios. Considering that in 80% scenarios only 250MtC02e are left domestically, the mitigation potential of the agricultural and LULUCF sectors is considerable and could significantly impact German climate paths. Our assessment of pragmatic strategies in the agricultural and LULUCF sectors complements the efforts of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the Voice of German Industry (BDI), who have concluded in a cross sectorial analysis that an 80% emission reduction is technically feasible, socially acceptable and may have positive economic effects.
To reach 95 % emission reduction, however, the industry evokes measures such as synfuels and carbon captureand storage, which are expensive or unpopular. The use of plant growth in general and forests more specifically as natural carbon sinks, as presented here, would considerably alleviate some of the pressure on synfuels and CCS and also alleviate the need for unexpected future technological breakthroughs. In this forum, we debate Germany’s domestic goals and its international leadership role as a showcase for global action.