Salad days

Paris takes lead in climate change efforts, passing Berlin

French President Emmanuel Macron with his wife Brigitte Trogneux
Fighting climate change isn’t a walk in ze park, Emmanuel darling. Source: Picture Alliance

Two of Europe’s leading climate change scientists have said the baton of hope for political action has passed from Berlin to Paris, with Emmanuel Macron now a more likely climate savior than Angela Merkel, and France a better climate model than Germany.

On the key question of carbon taxation, the business community may be further ahead than either, they say.

Johan Rockström, an earth scientist, and Ottmar Edenhofer, an economist, have recently been appointed to lead the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The institute was founded 25 years ago and is now one of the world’s leading environmental think tanks. The new leadership team brings together natural and social sciences, and aims to focus on the economic and social effects of climate change.

Speaking to Handelsblatt, the two remained upbeat, but the urgency of their message was unmistakable. Climate change is accelerating: “Most people think about global warming as a gradual, predictable process,” said Mr. Rockström, “but we are already seeing abrupt and partially irreversible changes.” Not one single industrialized country is on course to achieve the Paris agreement’s modest goal of a two-degree average increase in world temperatures, he added.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.