Global climate leaders meet at Summer Academy in Berlin to address climate action and the energy transition

Ilario D'Amato
Reading time: 5 minutes
14 September 2017

LONDON: Global climate leaders gathered in Berlin on Thursday for a key event at the Baden Württemberg Summer Academy to address the future of the energy transition and the fight against climate change.

The Summer Academy, an international conference run by the State of Baden-Württemberg's National Office and now in its fifth edition, brings together leaders from sub-national governments and NGOs to discuss the broader societal aspects of transitioning away from fossil fuel based economies.

Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group, participated on a panel discussion which addressed the main drivers of climate action in the current political and economic landscape. “There is an unstoppable force of action at the sub-national level and the message is clear that climate change can be solved through commitment and action from cities, states and regions. As the Under2 Coalition demonstrates, sub-national governments have the power to bring about change and they are playing a key role in implementing the Paris Agreement,” she said.

“Sub-national governments are particularly well placed to identify the needs of their citizens and the challenges and an opportunities presented by climate change.”

Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group

The German state of Baden Württemberg has played a key leadership role on sub-national climate action in recent years and is a founding member of the Under2 Coalition, for which The Climate Group acts as Secretariat.

Franz Untersteller, Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and Energy Sector, Baden-Württemberg, said: “Climate change can only be tackled in a joint global effort. No matter where in the world and by whom climate-damaging greenhouse gases are emitted, we all have the obligation to drastically reduce our carbon footprint in order to save this world for future generations.”


The Summer Academy comes at a crucial moment in the global climate discussion, with the US federal government announcing its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement in June. This has put the spotlight on the pioneering role of cities, states and regions as they expand their collaboration to tackle climate change on a global scale.

The event also highlighted the achievements of the Under2 Coalition, which has been joined to date by more than 170 jurisdictions representing 1.18 billion people and 37% of the world economy.

Clarkson was joined by Andreas Gehlhaar, Head of Environmental Policy, Deutsche Bahn, Monika Zimmermann, Deputy Secretary General, ICLEI and Franz Untersteller MdL, Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection & Energy Sector, Baden-Württemberg

The German states of Lower Saxony and Rhineland-Palatinate became the newest members of the Coalition on Thursday after signing the Under2 MOU and committing to long-term decarbonization.

On joining the Coalition, Stefan Wenzel, Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Protection, Lower Saxony, said: “We reaffirm our ambitious climate protection targets and our interest in international cooperation in the fight against climate change.

“Climate change challenges all regions. The mutual exchange of experience and knowledge offers the opportunity to use the most effective instruments in climate protection and climate change adaptation.”

Ulrike Höfken, Minister of Environment, Energy, Food and Forestry, Rhineland-Palatinate, said: "Against the backdrop of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, it is increasingly important to set an example in the fight against climate change.

"With Rhineland-Palatinate joining the globally active Under2 Coalition, we aim to strengthen climate action from countries and regions, including the numerous states and cities in the US, who are actively working to enhance climate protection.

"Rhineland-Palatinate is legally committed to this effort in the national climate protection law and we aim to be largely climate neutral by 2050. The approximately 100 concrete measures of the climate protection concept will be supported in the achievement of this target."

The Under2 Coalition is demonstrating clear and lasting commitment to reduce emissions in the long-term, and how sub-national governments, together with endorsing countries, can accelerate the global response to climate change and provide a model for broader international cooperation among nations.


Baden-Württemberg has been a central driving force in European and international climate policy in recent years and is scaling up its ambition and leadership role. The states’ Integrated Energy and Climate Protection Action Plan (IEKK) sets emissions reduction targets for key sectors of the economy alongside tools to achieve them, and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by at least 25% by 2020 – compared to 1990 levels –  and by 90% by 2050.

The state also wants to increase the amount of renewables in its energy mix to 25% by 2020, while decreasing final energy demand by 16% compared to 2010 by the same date. Both goals will also be reinforced if the EU 2030 framework implements a common target of 27%.

Baden-Württemberg is also a pioneering region for sustainable mobility, aiming to cut GHG emissions in the transport and mobility sector by 20% by 2020, compared to 1990 – and 70% by 2050. The state will also host the world’s largest trade fair and conference event for electric mobility, the "Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition" (EVS), in Stuttgart next month.

At an event during COP23 in Bonn at the German Pavilion, the state will further advance the discussion on the benefits of taking full advantage of mitigation opportunities by improving transparency and disclosure of climate data, also through the Under2 Coalition.

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