Limiting the increase in the global mean temperature to well below 2 degrees compared to the pre-industrial level is fundamentally possible - this is shown by the IPCC in its special report on 1.5 °C global warming.
Important measures are rapid and far-reaching reductions of all greenhouse gas emissions, above all carbon dioxide. In addition, carbon dioxide must be extracted from the atmosphere. It can be stored in natural sinks such as soils and forests, for example. Furthermore, the carbon dioxide extracted from the atmosphere can be converted back into energy sources through chemical processes. In Net-Zero-2050, Cluster I of the Helmholtz Climate Initiative , respective strategies and new approaches are scientifically examined and evaluated in four projects concerning the German framework. In addition, two case studies are carried out with external stakeholders from the field. The project is organised as follows (see figure):
- Project 1 (P1) consists of two sub-projects and hosts the coordination of the entire project. In P1.1, all the scientific project results (P1 - P4) are brought together in a national pilot roadmap for a CO2-neutral Germany by 2050 and made available to the public in an interactive web atlas. Integrated energy scenarios are developed and analysed in P1.2. Both projects are in close contact to iteratively work out the most promising scenarios and contributions for the pilot roadmap.
- Projects 2 to 4 (P2, P3, P4) represent the cluster’s technological level. In collaboration with P1.1, bottom-up evaluations are performed, regarding systemic, economic, ecological, political, legal and social constraints of CO2 removal and CO2 conversion into products such as synthetic fuels (P2), the storage of various forms of energy and substrates required for CO2-neutral cycles (P3) and the removal of CO2 by nature-based solutions (P4).
- Case Study I represents Net-Zero-2050’s main bridge to society. In Karlsruhe, one of Germany’s pioneering cities in climate neutrality, two workshops are planned in which members from different sectors will discuss the technologies and approaches of P2-P4 concerning their social acceptance and expected political feasibility.
- Case Study II aims at the development of a transparent strategy towards a climate-neutral Helmholtz Association.
By assessing the currently most promising contributions towards a national net-zero roadmap and by transparently displaying results of research, Net-Zero-2050 aims to inform and move forward the debate about CO2-neutrality at various levels. It is expected that this can initiate a quest for the best ideas, which then could be tested and offer opportunities to society and industry while helping Germany to deliver climate action adequately.
In total, scientist from 10 Helmholtz Centres are contributing to Net-Zero-2050. The project is coordinated by the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS), Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht.