Germany’s Climate Plan, Harvard’s Climate Change Solutions Fund, Vatican Calls for End of Fossil Fuels

by | Aug 2, 2022 | Climate Convos, Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Germany’s climate plan- more bike lanes and no auto speed limit, plus Harvard’s Climate Change Solutions Fund awards $1.3m in research grants. And the Vatican calls for an end of fossil fuels.




The German government unveiled a new package of climate measures last week to close the emissions gap in the transport and housing sectors as part of the country’s plan to become carbon neutral by 2045. Transport Minister Volker Wissing said his department planned to boost the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, expand public transport and build more bicycle lanes in the hopes that people will leave their gasoline-powered cars at home.

But Wissing, a member of the pro-business Free Democratic Party, stated Germany would not be introducing a general highway speed limit that environmental activists have said would immediately cut emissions and lower the sky-high cost of fuel by reducing demand.

He said, “As transport minister I need to weigh up the goal of protecting the climate as quickly as possible on the one hand, and on the other hand keep in mind the mobility needs and acceptance (of measures) in society. Together with existing measures, the goal of limiting transport sector emissions to 85 million metric tons of CO2 — from 148 million tons last year — could be achieved.”

Greenpeace has called the plans “nebulous” and said a general speed limit would achieve concrete emissions cuts. Limiting speeds on German highways to 100 kph (62 mph), 80 kph (50 mph) on country roads and 30 kph (19 mph) in town would save up to 9.2 million tons of CO2 a year, according to the environmental group DUH.

Why does Germany’s climate change plan matter to us? It’s a template for boosting the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, expanding public transport and building more bicycle lanes in urban areas in the hopes that people will leave their gas-powered cars at home!

DEEPER DIVE: AP, Greenpeace, DUH



Harvard University’s Climate Change Solutions Fund (CCSF) just announced ten research teams will share $1.3 million in awards. Aiming for impact at both the local and global level, these projects will seek to reduce the risks of climate change, hasten the transition to renewable energy, diminish the impact of existing fossil fuels on the climate, understand and prepare for the effects of climate change, and propel innovations needed to accelerate progress toward a healthier, more sustainable future.

The fund was established in 2014 by President Emerita Drew Faust and is supported by the Office of the President and donations from alumni and others. CCSF is managed by the Office of the Vice Provost for Climate and Sustainability at Harvard. As of 2022, nearly 70 CCSF projects have received more than $8 million in funding.

Harvard President Larry Bacow said, “The Climate Change Solutions Fund is one of the ways in which we support faculty and students in their important work, and the diversity of this year’s projects is a testament to the variety of tools we have at our disposal to address humanity’s greatest challenge.”

According to an article in the Harvard Gazette, the fund review committee, chaired by Vice Provost for Climate and Sustainability James Stock, selected research projects from across the University’s 12 Schools.

This year’s projects range from designing strategies for extreme heat adaptation and helping students explore the consequences of their consumption on Harvard’s campus, to studying the health impacts of wildfires on vulnerable populations and building data infrastructure to understand climate change migration around the world.

Why does Harvard’s Climate Change Solutions Fund matter to us? Well,full engagement in the critical work of confronting climate change requires that Harvard advance on as many fronts as we have at our disposal, especially given its gargantuan $53.2B endowment. Over the next two weeks, we’ll spotlight those ten CCSF winners.

DEEPER DIVE: Harvard Gazette



A top Vatican cardinal recently endorsed calls for a fossil fuels nonproliferation treaty and said that all new exploration and production of oil must be phased out to prevent global temperatures from rising to a “precipice.”

Cardinal Michael Czerny, the Canadian Jesuit who runs the Vatican’s ecology and development office, made the comments while presenting Pope Francis’ annual message about caring for God’s creation.  (Did y’all know there’s a Vatican ecology and development office?)

In the message, Pope Francis repeated his call for an end to industrial extraction practices used in mining, tapping oil and forestry, saying they are destroying forests, polluting rivers and poisoning food sources. Cardinal Czerny went further, throwing his support behind a grassroots initiative for a treaty to phase out fossil fuels, support economies and workers to diversify away from them, and to improve access to renewable energy sources. 

He said such a treaty was necessary to accompany the 2015 Paris Accords, which seek to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) this century. With temperatures already more than 1.1 degree celsius higher than the pre-industrial baseline, many experts say that keeping within the target is only possible with drastic cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

Czerny said, “The planet already is 1.2 degrees hotter, yet new fossil fuel projects every day accelerate our race towards the precipice. Enough is enough. All new exploration and production of coal, oil, and gas must immediately end, and existing production of fossil fuels must be urgently phased out.”

Pope Francis has made environmental stewardship a priority of his pontificate and recently authorized the Holy See to accede to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Accords.