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Climate Poker - A Journey to Our Precious Planet

Climate Poker - A Journey to Our Precious Planet

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Published by Stefan Thiesen
Climate Poker is a Potpurri of some work I did in Bioastronomy (Search for life in the universe) and Climate Policy research. The connection? Well - the survival factor is the main factor determining the number of civilizations existing in the universe, and we are not a good example... Anyway - the book contains some musings about planetary climate evolution, internal and external parameters influencing the long-term evolution of atmospheres, and it also gets a bit onto the activist side. I also show that one of the world's leading examples of regional climate policies was little more than political marketing. I hate it. Lies are the foundation of the marketing civilization we have become. The problem is that people have a tendency to believe what they want to believe - and they especially want to believe their own lies.
Climate Poker is a Potpurri of some work I did in Bioastronomy (Search for life in the universe) and Climate Policy research. The connection? Well - the survival factor is the main factor determining the number of civilizations existing in the universe, and we are not a good example... Anyway - the book contains some musings about planetary climate evolution, internal and external parameters influencing the long-term evolution of atmospheres, and it also gets a bit onto the activist side. I also show that one of the world's leading examples of regional climate policies was little more than political marketing. I hate it. Lies are the foundation of the marketing civilization we have become. The problem is that people have a tendency to believe what they want to believe - and they especially want to believe their own lies.

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Published by: Stefan Thiesen on Mar 08, 2009
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10/17/2011

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Münster is Germany’s „bicycle capital“ with a
larger number of bicycle-km/a per person than any other
town in the country (Stadt Münster, 1997). In addition
the town has a well developed public transportation
system. With a share of 29% of the overall emissions,
the traffic sector nevertheless is the largest single source
of CO2 emissions in Münster, and future projections
show that the traffic density will continue to show high
growth rates.

The share of 29% does not yet include commercial
street transportation (trucks), air transportation and
railroad cargo (Schallaböck, 1995). No concrete figures
are available yet, but Schumann (1995) estimates that
air traffic is responsible for up to 30% of traffic related
climate relevant emissions (including CO2, NOx, SO2),
and the Münster airport shows growth-rates of
approximately 8% per annum (Deiters/Schallaböck,
1995).

Despite more efficient engine technology, Fischer
(1995) estimates that emissions by air transportation

131

originating in Germany will triple until 2005, compared
to the base year 1987 (compare EK I, 1990). The same
will be the case for the Münster airport - especially since
it shows above average passenger growth rates. The air
traffic related CO2 emissions in Münster are estimated
to have risen from 40 kt CO2 in 1990 to 49,5 kt CO2 in
1994.

Street-based cargo transportation generally is
assumed to produce approximately 10% of all CO2
emissions from the transportation sector; growth rates
are known to be correlated with GNP growth rates,
population growth and other economic indicators. (EK
I, 1990; Deiters, 1995).

Clearly serious CO2 reduction strategies must
include far reaching measures in the traffic sector in order
to achieve any significant global reduction goals.

III.4.1.2.2: CO

2 Reduction Strategies

in Münster’s Traffic Sector

The recommendations of the climate and energy
advisory council relating to traffic mainly focus on
possibilities to reduce the motorized individual traffic.
Although it is acknowledged that between 1990 and 1995
more than twice as many bicycle users than car users
changed to public transportation (Deiters, 1995), the
council recommends an offensive price policy of public
transportation, supported by restrictions for individual
car traffic (such as lower speed limits, narrower roads,
discontinued expansion of road system, reduction of

132

parking places, higher parking fees etc.) and continuing
support for bicycle traffic. Since 1/4 of all „mobility
activities“ take place in the city's center, the council
recommends a concept called „city of short ways“, which
would allow access to all public offices by walking or
bicycle.

Another 1/4 of all trips are from suburbs to the
city. The recommended strategy is to close the inner city
for private cars, so that commuters from suburbs would
be „encouraged“ to utilize public transportation
(Schallaböck, 1995).

In addition the attractiveness of the train system
for commuters should be enhanced (higher frequencies,
better regional connections), and a (currently not
existing) street car system is recommended for in-town
traffic (Deiters/Schallaböck, 1995). None of the latter
two recommendations are likely to be implemented.
The German Bundesbahn recently (1998)
announced a reduction of regional train service and a
future increase of ticket prices, and a street car system
for Münster would require a very large investment, the
resources for which are difficult to allocate (Mayr, 1991).

Calculations for the scenario „Offensive Public
Transportation Policy“ arrived at the following reduction
potentials:

If the number of bus users will rise by 50% until
the year 2000 and another 20% until 2005, the relative
share of individual motorized traffic of overall
transportation in Münster would sink from 37% to 34%,
that of public bus transportation would rise from 10%
to 18%. At the same time the share of bicycle traffic
would probably sink from 32% to 27%. According to

133

Schallaböck et al (1995), this would result in an
estimated CO2 reduction of 19 to 26 kt/a (with constant
population) or 13 to 21 kt/a (taking the expected
population growth of 4% until 2005 into account). In
this scenario, 1.125 additional bus users per day would
result in a CO2 reduction of merely 1t/a (Deiters/
Schallaböck, 1995). This reduction does not count the
additional emissions that result from building activities
(new bus-roads, new train stations etc.), nor that related
to the production of the additional busses and trains
necessary for the scenario. Almost 40% of a car’s total
energy balance is not related to direct engine exhaust
but to production, servicing, road building and
maintenance (Geiger et al, 1995).
Although the situation for busses certainly is
shifted towards the direct engine exhaust, the principle
is the same and must not be ignored and has to be
included in any global assessment (see also Baccini/
Bader, 1996).

Other recommendations include strengthening the
central functions of smaller towns in the Münsterland
in order to reduce the attractiveness of Münster and
therefore the number of ways to town (Deiters, 1995).
This is not likely to happen, since it also weakens
Münster’s economic base.
In addition, the climate and energy council again
suggests to continue information and education
campaigns with the goal to enhance the „Umweltbewußt-
sein“ (environmental awareness) of the public.
The city administration believes that this alone could
result in a traffic related CO2 emission reduction of 15%
(Deiters/Schallaböck, 1995; KLENKO, 1997).

134

The 1997 KLENKO assessment arrived at an
overall emission reduction of the traffic sector of 0,3%
from 1990 to 1995. Although this reduction was already
considered to be a success for the city’s climate and
energy policy (KLENKO 1997), the following facts
should be considered:

•A reduction of 0,31% within five years is much too
low to indicate an ongoing trend; it could be the
result of fluctuations - also uncertainties of the
assessment could not be determined.

•The specific gasoline consumption of cars in
Germany shows a small but continuing decline
(Wuppertal Institut, 1996).

•Due to the economic situation (recession) and policy
change (cut student loans), households in Münster
have less money available and therefore will have a
tendency to travel less.

•The two traffic sectors with the highest growth rates
(cargo, air transportation) are ignored. Truck cargo
transportation in Germany showed an increase of
over 10% from 1994 to 1995 (Baratta et al, 1996).
Since Münster has no significant industrial
production, increased population and therefore
increased consumption is likely to directly result in
higher cargo traffic. The increase of CO2 emission
in the two excluded sectors alone certainly exceeds
the announced reduction several times (Wuppertal
Institut, 1996; Schallaböck, 1998).

135

•The city has zoned several residential areas outside
current suburbs, which will result in increased traffic
activity. This will neutralize in part the reduction
achieved by new buildings built in accordance with
low-energy guidelines (Bach, 1996).

The traffic sector shows the difficulties local
energy and climate policy has to face. The most effective
means - energy taxation and exhaust regulations for cars
(Steuern und Mengenregelungen) - are not available for
local authorities since they are under federal jurisdiction.
Punctual initiatives (such as the semester-ticket)
sometimes have undesirable side effects (bicycle users
changing to busses) and educational programmes are
counteracted by the marketing strategies of car
companies that result in an unbroken growth rate of car
sales in Germany (Baratta et al, 1996). The image of
„car equals freedom“ appears to be too strong to be
counter-acted by mere reason, and since the car industry
is Germany’s most important economic factor, there is
little political will on the federal level to do anything
against the interest of the industry.
It has to be remembered that even the traffic expert
in the federal study commission was a high official of
Daimler Benz (Hartenstein, 1996; Kordes, 1996). It is
not conceivable that any significant progress will be
made until 2005, and most likely the CO2 emissions of
the traffic sector in Münster, as elsewhere, will continue
to rise, especially if economic growth, population growth
and the growth rates of air transportation and cargo traffic
are taken into consideration.

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