Climate Change and Climate Protection

Research and innovation are core prerequisites for coping with climate change. Climate data provides information on changes in the Earth's ecosystem and supplies decision makers with a reliable knowledge base on global warming and its impact.

Reise in die Arktis
Arctic glaciers are retreating faster than expected. © DPA

The results of climate research are influential in shaping societal and political awareness of the challenges presented by climate change. In this context, the strategic goals of the German Federal Research Ministry (BMBF) are embedded in international climate policy and are as follows:

  • to trigger dynamic innovation for sustainable growth;
  • to develop practical competencies for the application of climate knowledge; and
  • to identify and address the most significant gaps in knowledge about climate change through high quality research.

The BMBF-funded research aims to push the limits of knowledge, while simultaneously catering to the demand for application-orientated knowledge and innovative solutions in the fields of politics, the economy and society. Essentially, the goal is to promote excellent research that is both innovative and relevant. The results should be practically applicable. To meet these requirements we are adopting an interdisciplinary approach, following a number of research approaches.

A better understanding of climate change and its impacts will provide stimuli for new channels of decision making, for new policies and innovative products, services and business models. The BMBF seeks to address specific problems in different policy areas and sectors. This requires an efficient coupling of socio-economic and scientific competencies. The BMBF has already adopted this approach with research activities in the field of Climate Services: Cooperation with the “Finanz-Forum: Klimawandel” (Climate Change Financial Forum) and the programme “KMU-innovativ” (programme for innovative SMEs) are examples of the business-orientated promotion of innovations.

Eisbär in Svalbard
Polar ice is continuously melting at the expense of many animals such as polar bears. © Thinkstock / camij

Climate knowledge can be directly integrated into social practice if exemplary solutions for climate change mitigation and adaption are developed, tested and implemented together with users. Practical relevance can be achieved in research formats where research and practice exchange knowledge and work together to define a research agenda that meets political, economic and societal knowledge requirements. Research in the context of governance structures for planning, investment and policy processes is orientated towards the individual requirements of each end-user. Good examples of this approach are the BMBF’s research initiatives in the field of adaption research, such as KLIMZUG (Climate Change in Regions) or the Science Service Centers on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use in Africa (WASCAL and SASSCAL).

We aim to close gaps in our understanding of the climate system, as well as to reliably estimate climate trends and climate impacts. The BMBF is promoting high quality research to accomplish these goals. This involves focusing fundamental research and model development on common goals as well as encouraging infrastructural cooperation. This approach is exemplified by the “HD(CP)2 Programme” (Cloud and Precipitation Processes in the Climate System), and by “MiKlip – decadal Predictions”, which develops a model system for mid-term regional climate forecasts and extreme weather phenomena, as well as by our innovative research infrastructures for atmosphere research and climate modelling.

Furthermore, BMBF-funded research addresses the economic and societal impacts of increasing climate change. Questions raised by practitioners serve as a starting point for high quality research, which aims to explore possibilities and forms for governance options and policy designs. This requires a comprehensive consideration of socio-economic aspects and interactions as well as an evaluation of different development pathways regarding costs, risks and opportunities, an approach exemplified by funding priorities such as “Economics of Climate Change”, the climate-impact model intercomparison “ISI-MIP”, and the research-policy dialogue on climate engineering.