Berlin

Emerging out of the crossing of two important trade routes, the first documented traces of Berlin go back to the thirteenth century. Since then, it has been an important capital city for many states, from a major principality in the Holy Roman Empire, to the Third Reich. After the Second World War, Berlin was famously divided into an East and West half, with the city again becoming the capital of a united Germany after the fall of the wall and reunification in the early 1990s. The federal state of Berlin now has a highly multicultural population of around 3.5 million people, including significant Turkish and Polish communities. Up to 15 per cent of Berlin’s residents are of foreign nationality, with many more having been naturalized migrants or citizens through birth. Berlin is well known for its vibrant art scene and creative industries, as well as for its high-tech economy and significant scientific research faculties. It is also a very green city, with about one-third of its area being composed of parks, gardens, forests and lakes.

Climate

Located on the banks of two rivers that drain into the Elbe, Berlin is located on the European Plain, a large low-lying land that stretches from northern France to Russia, from the Baltic to the Caspian Sea. Built atop of marshy woodland, Berlin has a temperate seasonal climate, with warm, sometimes humid summers with an average high between 22°C and 25°C, and relatively cold winters, with an average low of between −2 and 0°C, with mild chilly seasons in between. The city receives around 57cm of rain annually delivered across 101 rainy days, and it usually receives some light snow in winter, although it generally does not remain on the ground for long.

Climate Adaptation

The Berlin Climate Protection Information Office, known by the acronym BIK, offers an extensive guide to the various climate-related activities and projects in Berlin. It provides a general overview, with a few specific in-depth insights, and a huge array of links to more information. In short, this is a valuable resource for anyone trying to understand climate-change adaptation in Berlin. The BIK was initiated by the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment, and its staff and offices are situated in the Berlin Energy Agency offices. It is financially supported by the gas company GASAG, and Vattenfall Europe, one of the continent’s biggest generators of heat and electricity. BIK describe themselves as being tasked with gathering information on climate protection both within and beyond the Berlin Senate and local district administration departments, processing this information so that it is generally understandable, and making it available to any interest parties. This internet platform represents the BIK’s central instrument in this regard.

BIK has assembled a database which showcases, as of the start of 2016, over six-hundred practical climate-related projects. This database intends to present these climate protection projects as practical models in the hope that they can motivate other initiators to become active in taking climate action. The list of projects is very diverse, with a few examples including; ‘Car-sharing concept for the district of Pankow’; ‘Young Reporters for the Environment’; ‘Optimal traffic flow for the Berlin area’ and ‘Energy renovation of the community center “The Ahrenshooper.” Many of these projects are also visualized on a map of Berlin.Rather than attempting to summarize this here in text, please visit the website and interact with the map, clicking around and changing the various parameters that can toggle the information presented on it.

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Berlin is also an active member of a number of climate change and sustainability groups, including: C40 Climate Leadership Group, Climate Alliance, Covenant of Mayors, ICLEI, Metropolis, and the World Mayors Council on Climate Change.

Michael Müller

The Mayor

Michael Müller assumed the mayoral office of Berlin in 2014. Born in West Berlin in 1964, Müller studied business and administration, before working as a  self-employed printer for a number of years. In 1981 he became a member of the Social Democractic Party, the oldest political party in the German Parliament, with a long and curious history. Mr Müller sits on many boards, including the Aspen Institute Berlin, part of a powerful multinational think-tank, and the American Academy of Berlin.

Mayoral Statement

Cities, home to more than 50 per cent of the world’s population, are both a driver of climate change and at the same time most vulnerable to its effects. Hence, more and more cities are searching for ways to provide a local contribution against climate change. Berlin is one of them, and wants to be a role model for other cities. In the past years and decades, the German capital has done a lot to protect the climate and has also achieved considerable results. However, more measures are necessary. This is the reason why the Senate of Berlin has set the goal of becoming a climate-neutral city by 2050. This is intended to be effected through more renewable energy, “smart” infrastructure, and, above all, with the help of a responsible urban society. Berlin is to become a city in which climate protection includes dedicated resource and environmental protection, leading to better and healthier living conditions for Berliners.

My administration commissioned a scientific consortium led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research to investigate if and how the set goals can be reached. With the participation of the wider expert community, the Climate-Neutral Berlin 2050 Feasibility Study has been completed and its main results are presented here in the link below. It is my hope that this research can help to increase interest, understanding and commitment for climate protection in and for Berlin.

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