The living lab experiment “Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin” takes stock

Press Release by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

The living lab experiment “Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin” takes stock:
Everyone can contribute to climate stabilization, but without politics it won’t succeed

“Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin” – for one year, more than 100 Berlin households have tried to shift to a more climate-friendly everyday life, from families with children, partners, flatmates to singles. In the living lab experiment headed by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), households were reducing their climate footprint by an average of around 10 percent, even though they had, on average, already started the project 25 percent below the German average. The results of the project: in all sectors, from nutrition and consumption to electricity, heating and mobility, there is great potential for each and every one to reduce their CO2 emissions. But the experiment also shows where the limits of individual contributions to climate protection are, and where a political framework is necessary to set the stage for a more climate-friendly everyday life.

“Everyone can make a major contribution to climate stabilization, for example by eating more vegetables and less meat, by cycling more often or using public transport, or by switching to green electricity at home”, says Fritz Reusswig, head of the project “Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin” (KliB). While the national average is around 11 tons of CO2 per year, the households voluntarily participating in the KliB-lab had been already much more climate-friendly right from the start. “The smaller one’s climate footprint is, the more difficult it becomes to further cut down on CO2. But even then there are still possibilities to further reduce one’s emissions”, Reusswig explains. Successful were particularly those households that used energy consulting – they were able to reduce their CO2 footprint by up to 40 percent. Other households were less successful in saving emissions – for example, when in a family with children a student exchange to New Zealand expanded the horizon, but also the climate footprint. On average, KliB households lowered their CO2 footprint by about 10 percent to 7.8 tons per capita – about 35 percent better than the German average. However, a footprint that is in line with the global climate targets agreed to in Paris, the German Federal Government’s climate targets and the climate neutrality target of the Berlin Senate for 2050 would have to bring this figure down to 1 ton per capita per year.

“Reducing CO2 emissions to 7.8 tonnes per year could easily be feasible for any household – and that would add up to a lot nationwide”, says Reusswig. “At the same time, however, the living lab has also clearly shown the limits of the individual: Even ambitious households can at most halve their climate footprint, but then at some point reach a limit. At a certain threshold, only a different political framework can help”, says Reusswig. This is because so-called public emissions from street lighting, ambulances or the German Federal Armed Forces, for example, cannot be minimized by the individual. “Politics is in charge to ensure that the political framework is conducive to a more climate-friendly everyday life. Especially in the areas of nutrition and public transport, more ambitious efforts are necessary. This is where politics and business must take action and set up a more sustainable, better framework and infrastructure for a climate-friendly everyday life. And this is what our households would also like to see.”

“Climate-neutral living is our social goal”, says Michael Bilharz from the department “Sustainable Consumption Structures” of the German Environment Agency, a member of the Advisory Board of the research project. “That´s a goal that we can already achieve today at the private level. It is important for climate protection that climate-conscious people actively precede the political agenda and guide the way for 2030 and 2050.” The participants were assisted by experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and numerous Berlin-based companies and non-governmental organisations. The research project is supported by a scientific project advisory board and funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) as part of the National Climate Initiative (NKI).

Link to the project (in German):

Today, 31/01 19:00-20.30 – Closing event of the living lab experiment “Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin “: For the first time the results of the one-year lab are presented, experiences from a more climate-friendly everyday life are discussed with the participating households. At the German Environment Agency, Bismarckplatz 1, Berlin. The programme is attached. Please register for the event.

For further information please contact:
PIK press office
Phone: +49 331 288 25 07
Twitter: @PIK_Climate

Who we are:
The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is one of the leading research institutions addressing relevant questions in the fields of global change, climate impacts and sustainable development. Natural and social scientists work closely together to generate interdisciplinary insights that provide a sound basis for decision-making for society, businesses and politics. PIK is a member of the Leibniz Association.You are receiving this email because you signed up for our press communications. This is awesome. If you don’t want to receive PIK’s press communications anymore, just drop us a line to and we will delete your personal data.

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