Global climate change is one of the most important challenges in the 21st century. We are all called to fight it. How does climate change arise? What role does mankind play? Which effects will be expected?
And: what can we do to protect climate?!
On the following pages Klima-Kollekte gives you information about connections and opportunities for action concerning climate change. Because compensation is not sufficient:
Climate protection means avoiding – reducing – compensating!
Man influences the greenhouse gases’ concentration in the atmosphere and thus the climate in many ways. Whether by travelling or nutrition, at work or at home: a lot of human activities are connected with greenhouse gas emission.
Read more about reasons for climate change

CO2 emissions per capita

In 2007, the CO2 emissions per capita were 10.2 tons in Germany. That is 2.4 tons less than the European average and more than twice the global average of around 4.4 tons of CO2. In many developing countries, the CO2 emission per capita is far lower (see graphic below ready for download). If the global warming is to be limited to 2°C max – the international community has chosen this as a goal – the emissions worldwide have to decrease immensely. In the period of time of 2015 to 2020 at latest, the global increase of greenhouse gas emissions has to be stopped to annually go down afterwards by five percent at least.  Because emissions in the past and today are spread out so unequally, the nations the level of effort differs. Emissions in Germany should be lowered by 2020 by 40 percent compared to 1990, by 2050 by 80 to 95 percent. This is demanding but feasible if everyone takes part. Political steps are necessary for example towards power generation to 100 percent from renewable energy sources. But everyone can do a lot because many of our activities could be realized more climate-friendly. Whether organization, private person or church community: everyone should check how and where greenhouse gas emissions can be avoided or reduced. And what about the actually inevitable rest? There is Klima-Kollekte’s compensation!

Consequences of climate change

The consequences of human-caused climate change are already visible today and will increase in the decades to come. In the 20th century, sea level rose about 17 centimeters on global average. The reason is the sea expansion due to rising water temperatures as well as to melting glaciers, ice caps and shields. Moreover, scientists observe more intensive and longer droughts on the one hand and more frequent heavy rains and tropical whirlwinds on the other.
Until 2100: global warming increases
Until 2100, another rise of global temperature by 1.1°C to 6.4°C towards the time period of 1980 to 1999 is awaited. The warming will not be evenly spread but be especially distinct over land. And great regional differences are also awaited. How high the warming will be depends on how much greenhouse gases will be emitted until mid-century. As a consequence of climate change, drastic damages threaten especially if the rise of temperature breaks the limit of 2°C max towards the pre-industrial level. Extreme natural phenomena like heat waves and heavy rains will most probably increase in frequency and intensity, sea ice and glaciers will keep on melting. If the sea level keeps on rising, it can lead to flooding of coast regions and lower situated island states.
Effects on mankind and nature
The ecological, economic and social effects on mankind can develop dramatically because water shortage and hunger, health issues due to heat stress, malnutrition, diarrhea and other infectious diseases will increase. The loss of biodiversity up to the dieback of entire marshlands is also awaited. In interaction with damages by flooding and storms, eco-systems as well as human society could be greatly overtaxed. Scientists also fear that already relatively small changes in the climate system could lead to a so-called break-over point. When reaching such critical thresholds the climate can afterwards change immensely and possibly abruptly and so extremely challenge the ecological and human adaptability.
Especially affected: the global South
People in poor countries of the South will in any case be especially affected and they are already. Small island states and the big deltas in Asia and Africa are not only threatened with significant consequences. The adaptability capacity of people there is lower because they depend more on resources like the local supply with water and food. Those react especially sensitive on climate changes. While mainly the population in industrial countries has triggered the human-caused climate change, especially the population in developing countries will suffer from it.
See Global Climate Risk Index 2015 GermanWatch
Consequences in industrial countries
But the climate change will also be clearly perceütible in industrial countries. Mid- and Eastern Europe will have to adapt to water shortage, decreasing forest growth and increasing moor burnings and rising health risks due to heat waves. Southern Europe is hit more severely where amongst other things more wildfires and smaller crops are to be awaited. Up to 120 million people more could be threatened there by hunger. The Federal Environmental Agency has gathered findings about the consequences awaited even today for Germany and the adaption measures needed in a publication available here as PDF file (in German).

Germany: CO2 emissions above all

In Germany, we produce greenhouse gases primarily by consuming energy: around 80 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions round here are energy-induced, which means they are created from the production of heat and energy or from the burning of (mostly fossil) fuels in traffic. The remaining 20 percent almost exclusively result from industrial processes (around eleven percent), for example in the chemical industry and in farming (almost seven percent). The emission of carbon dioxide represents with around 87 percent the biggest part of the greenhouse gases emitted in Germany. In 2014, around 912 million tons of CO2 were emitted by industry, trade, households, government, farming and energy industry – 40 million less than the previous year but the wintertime was significantly milder. Not included in this balance are emissions generated during the production of goods which are made overseas and imported to Germany. Emissions of international air traffic are not included. This corresponds to the international regulations for calculating the greenhouse gas emission of a country but suppresses emissions of considerable quantity. You will find more about air traffic here.

Human influence on climate

Man influences the greenhouse gases’ concentration in the atmosphere with increasing industrialization but since the 19th century at the latest. Human activities significantly increased the amount of climate-efficient gases, especially carbon dioxide, and thus contribute to global warming. Especially the burning of fossil energy sources like carbon, oil and gas and a change in land use, e.g. by forests clearing, have led to a dramatic increase of atmospheric  CO2 concentration. Moreover, increasingly larger quantities of the greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide are released by intensified farming and ranching 

Reasons for climate change

We go to work by car or railroad, we use products, for which energy was used when producing them, and we possibly go on holidays by plane. Our homes are heated and lighted in the same way as parish rooms, schools and shopping centers. Almost always we produce greenhouse gas emissions in doing so.

Climate justice

What does climate justice mean?
Everyone on earth has the same right of use for the public good “atmosphere”. If the climate on earth shall not warm more than 2 degrees compared to the pre-industrial level, the global greenhouse gas emissions have to decrease by at least 50% until 2050 (towards the reference year 1990), in the Western industrial countries even by 85-90%. The goal has to be an adaption of the per-capita emission to a sustained level.
Climate justice means that according to the polluter-pays-principle those countries carrying the main responsibility for global warming are in charge of globally vouching for consequences and damages of the climate change. Mostly countries of the global South are affected by the effects of the climate change not contributing much to the problem and not having the financial means needed for protection measures and cost of adjustment. Climate justice also comprises generation justice and responsibility for the environment: instead of leaving behind at least evenly good or better environmental conditions, the CO2-intense way of living sends future generations to coping with the climate change consequences hard to calculate and not being able to fall back on a sound environment. The climate change-connected decline of biodiversity in flora and fauna is from the Christian perspective a misdemeanor of man towards his co-responsibility for creation as a whole.
Climate change increases poverty and endangers life
The greenhouse effect destroys natural bases of life, aggravates poverty, undermines development possibilities and intensifies injustice. While energy consumption in the industrial and emerging countries stays on a high level, partly even rises rapidly, around 2.5 billion people on earth have no access to modern energies like e.g. electricity. This deficiency in terms of energy goes hand in hand with financial poverty and poor education and development possibilities. At the same time, poor people are the main victims of climate change i.e. of the industrial and emerging countries’ “over-consumption” of energy. From a Christian-ethic point of view, this development is neither divinely ordained nor is it inevitable fate. This development is the expression of an obvious lack of just behavior of the industrial countries, but also of the increasingly aspiring emerging countries following the western development model, towards the developing countries, following generations and creation. Climate protection is about both: responsibility for God’s creation and human dignity. It is about participation justice on environmental goods and services. It is about giving people of the South and following generations fair development possibilities. (Climate of justice)
Ways to climate justice
The costs for climate protection and adaption to the consequences of climate change have to be shared out internationally according to the UN climate convention’s principle of “shared but differentiated responsibility”. The countries of the global North together with those of the global South have to look for ways out of poverty to permit a life in dignity and fair participation to all mankind. The support of small decentralized climate protection projects in developing countries is as well part of it as financial support, technology transfer and a global emission certificate trade based on per capita emission rights. For this, an agreement on climate protection established in international law, controllable and affiliated with sanctions is needed towards which we should work. You can also contribute on a small scale by trying to develop a sustainable lifestyle and by compensating emissions which cannot be avoided. Our associates support you with a sustainable lifestyle and deliver insight into the topic climate justice, e.g. the information department climate justice of the “Nordkirche” in Hamburg (see collection of links).
Saving and avoiding
It does not suffice to compensate CO2 to avert the severe climate change consequences… Here you get a hint how to save or reduce CO2 weekly.

Natural and human-caused greenhouse effect

The atmosphere absorbs a great deal of the thermal radiation the earth emits and partly radiates it back earthwards. That is the so-called greenhouse effect. You distinguish between the natural and human-caused greenhouse effect.
The natural greenhouse effect
There would be no life on earth without the greenhouse effect: the sun radiates through the atmosphere, is converted into thermal radiation at the earth’s surface and is emitted back from earth. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere prevent a part of this thermal radiation from fading into space. If this “shield” weren’t there the earth would be literally frozen at -18°C. The natural greenhouse effect provides for a global average temperature of about 15°C and this that life can develop.