People make climate change

By Ute Kaiser

This summer, the news about natural catastrophes was overwhelming: heat and drought, heavy rain and floods, forest fires and storms. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has now published a report on the reasons for these extreme weather conditions. The earth is heating up faster than assumed. This climate change is caused by humans. Their influence can be clearly demonstrated. This is the conclusion reached by more than 230 researchers worldwide. They have evaluated about 14,000 studies for the IPCC report.

The greatest responsibility is borne by the industrialised countries and the newly industrialised countries—those countries that are on their way to becoming industrialised countries as a result of technical progress. Children in particular suffer from the consequences of climate change, although they are least responsible for it, according to the UN Children’s Fund Unicef in its report, the Climate Risk Index for Children. Scientists predict that people will increasingly flee their home countries because of climate crises.

The ice at the poles is melting. Sea levels are rising significantly. No country will be spared from climate change. It will have concrete effects on extreme weather conditions in all regions of the world. This summer, Germany was also devastated by catastrophic floods. This is what the researchers write in the IPCC report. Climate change has accelerated significantly in recent decades. If the earth continues to warm at such a rapid rate, the risks to humans and nature will continue to increase. For example, heat and heavy rain will occur much more often and will be (even) worse than before.

To put it starkly, the more greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane are in the air, the warmer the earth will become—for example, through the burning of oil, coal and gas. For this reason, Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze and Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek, among others, are demanding that greenhouse gas emissions be sharply reduced. The major goal should be to make society CO2-free—especially through new technologies that do not harm the climate. In this way, global warming should be limited to 1.5 degrees compared to the time before industrialisation.

Climate change will occupy the world’s states in November at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. The issue of climate change—and what to do about it—is also playing a role in the election campaign ahead of the 26 September general election in Germany.

The English-language version of the sixth IPCC report is available on the website

A press release by the Federal Ministries for the Environment and Research can be found at

On the Unicef website there is a summary of the Climate Risk Index


Ein schwerer Hagelsturm am Landratsamt Tübingen. Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL / Martin Klaus.


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