Main Content

Lecture series with video documentation

'The Green Paradox - Theses on Climate Change' by Hans-Werner Sinn

We all see the need to slow down climate change and we are trying hard to reach this goal. But many measures are ineffective and in some cases even cause the opposite of their original intention. We are faced with a “green paradox”. This is the result of a comprehensive analysis of global environmental policies by the President of the Munich Ifo Institute, Hans-Werner Sinn.
His book, „Das grüne Paradoxon“ (The Green Paradox), touches on a sore point. Climate change is a new challenge for mankind. Sinn analyses the climate-policy measures in Germany, Europe and other regions of the world to examine the extent to which they are meeting this challenge. He does not question the goals of climate polices but shows that the instruments of these policies are ineffective and to a large extent counter-productive because they disregard important economic mechanisms. With this approach Sinn closes a gap between the scientific and societal discourse on the climate issue. In a series of six lectures, in German, Sinn presents his book and shows what we must do to ensure that climate policies are successful.

Lecture series (in German) November and December 2009

Lecture series:  November and December 2009
German TV: BRalpha January - April 2010

Flyer (PDF, 461 KB)

Moderator: Adrian Dunskus

Organizer: Bavarian Radio, BRalpha, Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Munich, University of Munich.

Venue: Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Poschingerstrasse 5, 81679 Munich, Ludwig Erhard Room

Thesis 1: Human beings are making the earth increasingly warmer.

12 Nov. 2009
TV BR-alpha: (in German)
Studium Generale: Das grüne Paradoxon - Der Klimawandel
Lecture (1/12, 29 min.) 14 Jan 2010 16.00 hrs
Expert discussion (2/12, 29 min.) 21 Jan 2010 16.00 hrs

Carbon dioxide itself is non-poisonous. It is only a problem if it accumulates in too great concentrations in the atmosphere. Then the greenhouse effect arises, and it becomes increasingly warmer. Since the beginning of the industrial age, an enormous increase in the carbon dioxide concentration has occurred, reaching an 800,000 year peak. In only a few decades the earth’s temperature will be higher than ever before in this period of time.

Thesis 2: Germany spends lots of money for Green electricity and still achieves little with this support because Europe already has an emissions market that has determined the amounts of emissions.

23 Nov 2009
TV BR-alpha: (in German)
Studium Generale: Das grüne Paradoxon - Die grüne Republik
Lecture (3/12, 29 min.) 28 Jan 2010 16.00 hrs
Expert discussion (4/12, 29 min.) 4 Feb 2010 16.00 hrs

Germany is a model country worldwide in the promotion of green electricity thanks to massive state subsidies. There is no greater concentration of wind turbines and solar-energy installations than in Germany. The energy tax, the feed-in rates for wind and solar electricity, support for combined heat and power (CHP) and many other measures cost billions of euros. However, this support has not been able to reduce the output of carbon dioxide in Europe because this is already predetermined by the emissions trading system. We only subsidise the dirty electricity of the other EU countries with these measures.

Thesis 3: Giving the tank priority over the plate creates poverty and unrest in the world.

1 Dec 2009
TV BR-alpha: (in German)
Studium Generale: Das grüne Paradoxon - Biokraftstoffe: Teller oder Tank?
Lecture (5/12, 29 min.) 11 Feb 2010 16.00 hrs
Expert discussion (6/12, 29 min.) 18 Feb 2010 16.00 hrs

For the production of biodiesel and bioethanol, gigantic expanses of farmland are used that could also be used for food production. The world hunger crises in 2007 and 2008 are due to the dramatic expansion of bioethanol production in the United States, which came about because of the rising oil prices. With the coupling of oil and food prices, mankind has entered a new, dramatic phase of its development, which later will be understood as a turning point.

Thesis 4: Germany is a wrong-way driver in terms of atomic energy and has no good arguments for this course.

10 Dec 2009
TV BR-alpha: (in German)
Studium Generale: Das grüne Paradoxon - Atomkraft
Lecture (7/12, 29 min.) 25 Feb 2010 16.00 hrs
Expert discussion (8/12, 29 min.) 4 Mar 2010 16.00 hrs

Germany is the only country worldwide that is adhering to a policy of withdrawal from atomic energy. France remains loyal to atomic electricity; in other countries the withdrawal has been rescinded. Currently, new atomic reactors are being built around Germany in many countries. Whoever condemns atomic electricity should not overlook the disadvantages of the other energy sources. Wind and solar electricity involve an extensive use of land. Electricity from coal requires gigantic subterranean storage for the carbon dioxide that is released to prevent it from harming the climate. Such storage is not available in sufficient amounts and it is not harmless. The final storage problem for liquid carbon dioxide is far greater than the final storage problem for atomic power waste.

Thesis 5: European climate policies have accelerated climate change because they have given the resource owners cause to extract their fossil fuels faster in anticipation of a further worsening of their sales options by policy-makers.

16 Dec 2009
TV BR-alpha: (in German)
Studium Generale: Das grüne Paradoxon - Die Rolle der Scheichs und Kohlebarone
Lecture (9/12, 29 min.) 11 Mar 2010 16.00 hrs
Expert discussion (10/12) 18 Mar 2010 16.00 hrs

European countries are spending lots of money to improve energy efficiency, to expand green electricity, to advance atomic energy, to build more economical cars and on other technical solutions with which they can curb their demand for fossil fuels. Green demand policy is ineffective, however, as long as other countries do not participate and as long as the resource owners do not reduce their supply. In fact, if the resource owners fear that green policies will become increasingly greener over the course of time and will reduce the rate of price increases for fossil fuels, green policies will even speed up resource extraction and climate change.

Thesis 6: Only a universal, worldwide emissions trading system and a source tax on the capital gains of the resource owners are suitable for effecting a postponement of resource extraction an for slowing down climate change.

21 Dec 2009
TV BR-alpha: (in German)
Studium Generale: Das grüne Paradoxon - Lösungsansätze zum Klimawandel
Lecture (11/12, 29 min.) 25 Mar 2010 16.00 hrs
Expert discussion (12/12, 29 min.) 1 Apr 2010 16.00 hrs

Apart from afforestation, there are only two ways to stop climate change: either the carbon remains in the ground or it is returned to the ground after combustion. The most important method for trapping carbon in the ground and supporting sequestering is a worldwide system of emissions trading as is already practised in Europe. A recommended supplementary method is a source tax on the capital gains of the resource owners since this would give them a stimulus to leave their resources in the ground instead of transferring their gains to Swiss bank accounts.

Short URL: