Jürgen visited Phoenix on November 16-17, where he was hosted by local branches of the German-American and Swedish-American Chambers of Commerce together with the Global Chamber Phoenix to give a talk on climate policy in the European Union. The event was held at the Arizona State University’s SkySong Innovation Center in Scottsdale.
The event was attended by about 40 members from the three chambers who had come to listen from across the greater Phoenix area and other parts of Arizona.
Jürgen started by describing the history of the European Union and explaining how EU legislation is initiated by the European Commission and then negotiated and adopted in co-decision between the European Council (representing the 28 Member States) and the European Parliament. He noted that EU climate policy is an interesting example of practical policy implementation that has evolved gradually into a comprehensive framework of objectives, targets and laws in the past twenty years. The legislation is a combination of EU-wide instruments and national actions based on legally binding obligations in Member States.
In his presentation, Jürgen stressed that European climate policy is based on cost-effectiveness and fairness and relies on market-based instruments, such as emission trading. He explained how integrating climate and energy policy since 2007 has helped mainstream climate action in Europe. Promoting renewable energy sources and energy efficiency has been key for meeting the EU’s energy security, climate and energy cost objectives. Thanks to its focus on cost-effectiveness and clean energy, principles the EU has managed reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by more than 23% since 1990 and decouple emissions from economic growth.
After his talk, Jürgen was joined by a panel of local experts for a question and answer session with the audience. The panelists were ASU researchers Colin Tetreault and Lauren Withycome Keeler, Ricardo Aguirre from HELM, a company specializing in sustainable land management, and Mark Hartman, Chief Sustainability Officer of the City of Phoenix. Questions to the panel covered local, US and European aspects of climate policy. Jürgen answered questions from the audience about lessons to be learnt from the EU experience, the role of land management and forestry, the potential for carbon capture and storage and how the EU’s emission reductions targets were calculated.
Earlier the same day, Jürgen participated in a separate roundtable discussion at the SkySong Center with the experts from the panel that had been organized by Colin Tetrault and the director of the local German-American chamber of commerce, Gerhard Kratzer. The roundtable focused on local climate action, such as how global warming is taken into account in city planning and building of new infrastructure in Arizona and Southwestern USA, what measures are taken to adapt to climate change and with respect to reduce emissions from energy use in buildings and in transport, and how climate action in US cities and states is influencing business opportunities, e.g. in the area of renewable energy and clean energy technologies.