Cooperation for sustainable development in Brandenburg was the focus of Brandenburg Sustainability Platform’s fourth plenary session, which was attended in Eberswalde by around 130 participants. Coordinating efforts across policymaking, the economy and society to achieve climate neutrality by 2045 at the latest is a central aim of Brandenburg’s state government. A pathway to climate neutrality is outlined in the Brandenburg Climate Plan. Work on this all-of-government climate protection strategy, which will include a robust programme of measures, is currently being coordinated by the Ministry of Climate Protection. The event was moderated by the former scientific director of the Research Institute for Sustainability - Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (RIFS), Professor Ortwin Renn.
In his opening remarks, Climate Protection Minister Axel Vogel emphasized: "Brandenburg has adopted ambitious climate protection targets. The coordination processes for the climate plan are working hard to ensure that effective measures to protect the climate are pursued across all relevant departments."
With the measures set out in the climate plan, the state of Brandenburg aims to achieve the interim and sector targets for greenhouse gas savings approved by Cabinet in August 2022 in the areas of agriculture and forestry, energy and industry, transport and construction. All of this will contribute to the broader national efforts to deliver on the climate targets agreed in the Federal Climate Change Act and the Paris Agreement.
Minister Vogel highlighted the importance of securing a coal phase-out in Brandenburg as quickly as possible alongside the expansion of renewable energies, the conversion to a climate-neutral economy, the heating and transport transitions, strengthening access to sustainable mobility as well as extensive moorland conservation, forest conversion and reforestation measures. The minister also explained why and how the state government supports climate action at the municipal level: “In my view, climate protection projects are both a process and a collective undertaking. Under our crisis action programme, the Brandenburg-Paket, municipalities, counties and independent towns will be able to tap into an easy-access fund of 41.5 million euros for "investments in transformation and climate protection measures" until the end of 2024. This is the largest municipal climate protection package for local government to date in Brandenburg."
Challenges on the path to climate neutrality
In a presentation on the state of climate policy in the state, Prof. Bernd Hirschl from Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus–Senftenberg detailed key strategic challenges on the path to climate neutrality and highlighted the urgent need for action. "Brandenburg is not yet on a path to achieving climate neutrality," the professor said.
In his remarks, the mayor of Eberswalde, Götz Herrmann, detailed his city’s efforts to improve its climate performance, reduce GHG emissions and adapt to climate change. The examples ranged from the trolleybus, which has been running on hybrid technology for ten years, to the community solar system on the roof of the town hall, which saves around eight tons of CO2 per year, to the timber bicycle shelter at the train station.
At the subsequent "Market of Opportunities" later that day, a range of initiatives in Brandenburg – from The Future Living to SoLaWi Wilde Gärtnerei to Klimainitiative Werder – seized the chance to present their work and connect with similar groups. Jana Schelte opened the market – headlined "What is to be done: Get to know each other, network, gather ideas” – and the subsequent discussion rounds.
As chair of the Sustainability Platform's Climate Plan Working Group, Schelte appealed to participants at the event: "State policy must create an enabling environment for an adequate response to the climate crisis. In our view, it is essential that the measures proposed in the report are taken up in the climate plan. Phasing out coal by 2030 at the latest should be a top priority alongside efforts to rewet peatlands and convert forests to make them climate-resistant, making cycling and walking more attractive by expanding public transport and creating more cycle paths. We are pushing for government to begin with the implementation of climate protection measures during this legislative term and for the climate plan to be adopted in a climate protection law upon its completion."
Brandenburg Sustainability Platform currently has 180 members, including representatives from local authorities, the business community, science, welfare associations and civil society. The platform’s coordination office is hosted at the Research Institute for Sustainability - Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (RIFS).