Wolf — A year ago I asked several high school graduates how important the issue of climate protection is to them. Their answers: in theory it’s foremost in my mind, but on a day-to-day basis other things take priority.
Finkbeiner — Global warming is a long-term crisis that matters to everyone in my generation. New studies show that three-quarters of children and teenagers from the industrialized nations consider the crisis relating to climate change and social justice to be the greatest challenge they have to face.
Wolf — That is indeed the case, and therefore it is important to take action. ElringKlinger is committed to making a contribution to climate protection. We believe that mobility will play a significant role in this quest. The technical possibilities available to us are far from exhausted. Therefore, it is essential that we put every effort into reducing CO2. If no one acts, nothing will change.
Finkbeiner — In the long term, we can only solve such problems through cooperation at a global level. Therefore, international dialog aimed at reaching agreements on climate protection is a key prerequisite. However, these negotiations are protracted, stretching back to a time before I was born. The recurrent mantra is that progress will be made within five years. That’s frustrating – but there is still no alternative to a global solution.
Wolf — The task of tackling CO2 reduction can’t be restricted to Germany or Europe. We won't be able to save our climate by pursuing such a regional approach, quite simply because our contribution is too small. After all, the entire planet is affected. That is why I find the “Plant for the Planet” initiative so interesting.
Finkbeiner — Regardless of this, a country such as Germany should take a lead role at an international level, e.g. as regards its “Energy Transition” project. This is a tremendous opportunity, as the entire world is looking to Germany. If we can achieve this as an industrialized nation, no other country can come up with excuses as to why energy conservation and a push towards renewable energy cannot be implemented.
Wolf — It is also important to ensure that the move towards sustainable energy is financially viable. Only if we achieve this transition and are successful economically will other nations around the globe acknowledge Germany as a benchmark and perhaps even copy our approach. The automotive industry serves as a good example in this area. Europe has defined the strictest emission thresholds. These standards are now gradually being "exported", with China looking to phase in our emission policies by the end
of the decade. In the United States it will probably take until 2025, but there, too, the automobile industry will be faced with increasingly strict emission standards. For ElringKlinger, this represents a tremendous opportunity, as we have the technologies needed to make engines and vehicles more efficient.
Finkbeiner — That’s really impressive. At the same time, in the long term I believe we should still be looking to expand public transport much more widely. What is more, cars around the globe should become even more environmentally friendly and, ultimately, their overall number should be scaled back.
Wolf — For my generation, the most important thing was to have a car as soon as you turned eighteen. But today, this no longer seems to be as important to youngsters, at least not here in Germany. By contrast, the car remains a status symbol in the rapidly growing economies of Asia. Therefore, it is important that the cars being driven can operate with lower CO2 emissions.