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Germany has been relying on two major developments to help it achieve its 2020 climate goals: on its so-called energy transition (moving from fossil fuels to renewables) and on the country’s gradual changeover to electromobility. A hope that has – as yet – not been answered. Germany’s rapid nuclear exit and its base load problems have meant that the country’s network of renewable energy sources has been unable to keep pace with the demand for power. Consequently, the amount of electricity generated by power stations run on hard coal or brown coal has increased leading to higher carbon emissions. The 2020 goals can only be achieved, therefore, if more attention is paid to the one and only sector that has so far succeeded in completely transforming itself: having previously been an emitter of greenhouse gases, the recycling sector now reduces carbon emissions – and there are a number of other ways it can help prevent climate change.
Despite everyone’s efforts, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has now reached 400 parts per million (ppm). The Stockholm Resilience Centre, a research institute belonging to the University of Stockholm, has been looking into our planet’s ability to adapt to change in order to establish what conditions need to be met so that it remains “safe” for humanity. According to the centre’s latest model calculations, the safe limit is 350ppm – if the increase in global warming is to remain below 1.5 °C. We have, therefore, already crossed this boundary and entered into the danger zone – and, the results of the study reveal, the high risk zone begins when concentration levels exceed 450ppm. Urgent action is needed to find additional ways to prevent climate change as well as to optimise those we already have in place.
“REMONDIS already recycles 30 million tonnes of raw materials, helping to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the consumption of land and natural resources. We are prepared to do even more.“
Thomas Conzendorf, REMONDIS Board Member
REMONDIS has joined various business and environmental experts and institutes to establish a new association, the “Klimaschutz durch Kreislaufwirtschaft“ (recycling to prevent climate change). As part of the KlimaExpo.NRW initiative, it aims to make decision-makers more aware of the fact that greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by intensifying and optimising recycling activities. The association has drawn up a list of ten hypotheses to show how greater efforts could be made to prevent climate change.
With the long awaited recyclables law just around the corner, the Federal government now has the opportunity to set the course for the future and ensure that the recycling sector’s potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a further 6 % of the 2020 climate goals is fully exploited. Besides being “world champions” in export and recycling, Germany could also be the country leading the effort to prevent climate change by implementing pertinent measures – such as setting ambitious collection and recycling rates. REMONDIS is already making a great contribution towards this goal with its 800+ plants and businesses in more than 30 countries around the world.