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Fact check: In FAZ op-ed, Lion Hirth counters pessimist critique on German climate policy

Contrary to recent defeatist arguments by a prominent German economist, “a largely climate-neutral global economy is possible within a few decades”, the Professor of Energy Policy writes.

In an op-ed in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from 28 August, Professor of Energy Policy Lion Hirth responds to German economist Hans-Werner Sinn’s recent harsh critiques of German climate policy, including the assertions that green technologies increase emissions and that a secure energy system based on renewable energies is not possible. Hirth provides a counterpoint to these critiques, emphasising the ways in which they do not reflect reality.

Hirth refutes the claim that heat pumps and electric cars increase CO2 emissions and explains that – policy decisions such as internal combustion engine bans aside – capital markets are already firmly on the side of electric vehicle technology. Even though basic economic theory would suggest that national and global climate policy should not exist, he writes, countries are making major investments into green technology. Finally, he emphasises that creating a secure energy system based on renewable energies like wind and solar is not only possible, but also cheaper than the fossil fuel alternatives.

Hirth acknowledges that the lack of global climate cooperation is a cause for concern and that the challenges of the energy transition are great. Defeatist thinking, though, is out of date and out of line with reality, he writes.

“Climate protection is a Herculean task, and the complexity of the energy transition can take one's breath away,” writes Hirth. Thanks to recent technological achievements and political successes, though, he maintains that “a largely climate-neutral global economy is possible within a few decades”.

Read the full op-ed here (in German).

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