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Delegates at the climate summit in Dubai

Photo: Beata Zawrzel / ZUMA Wire / IMAGO

The 28th climate summit began in Dubai on Thursday. It is the largest that has ever taken place – and a good opportunity to think about how you yourself can deal with the topic of climate in a sustainable way. Governments are currently not so easy to rely on at this point. In Germany and elsewhere.

In the G20 countries, no government is currently on track to meet the binding climate targets it has set itself, writes the Economist this week. This can be very expensive in the future.
I have put together five tips for you on how to protect the climate, limit your financial risk now and, in some cases, save immediately. And then two tips on how to protect yourself from the consequences of a possible climate collapse.

Protecting the climate and thus earning money or saving costs has worked quite well in Germany in the past.

First, the very simple version: You save a lot of money on heating and also protect the climate a little bit. A clever use of your heating system can help to save a lot of energy without reducing comfort: ventilate the room in bursts instead of tilting the windows, keep the radiators clear and dust them off regularly. In the second step, you also have the option of turning down the heating one degree. This saves an average of another six percent heating energy. And of course, because of the expiring gas price brake, you should look for and find a cheap gas provider. In Stuttgart, for example, consumers save 660 euros a year with the cheapest gas supplier compared to the basic supplier – with 15,000 kWh consumption for heating.

With a little planning, you may also be able to tackle the thermal insulation in the coming year in order to be able to switch to a particularly climate-friendly heating system in a few years. Financing through tax savings remains a secure financing option for all those who pay income tax properly. And thermal insulation also helps against high heating oil and gas bills.

Secondly, the transport option: The 49-euro ticket saves most public transport users a lot of money in everyday life. A city ticket in Berlin costs 91 euros, in Hamburg 69 euros, in Cologne just under 100 euros or in Munich just over 100 euros, so it is significantly more expensive.

In addition to travelling in your city, in your transport network and to your workplace, you can also use public transport in other municipalities at no additional cost when travelling.
And some employers even pay part of this 49 Euro ticket, so it becomes even cheaper.

For students, the Deutschlandticket will be available in a few months, from the summer semester 2024, for just under 30 euros.

And for the upcoming holiday: Why not take the train? Children up to the age of 14 travel free of charge. And with a little advance planning, Bahncards can be ridiculously expensive.

Thirdly, the car option: In the countryside, public transport is sparse. And therefore not attractive even with a 49-euro ticket. As a motorist, you can save a lot of fuel and hundreds of euros a year with an adapted driving style over the same distance, the ADAC regularly shows, here is a video. A fuel-efficient car is also sensible in view of further rising prices at the pump. In order to meet the binding target in the German Climate Protection Act, rising CO₂ prices are necessary. Next year, petrol will become around 3 cents per litre more expensive due to the CO₂ tax, and by 2027 it will probably be 15 cents, and diesel even more.

And e-mobility is also a sustainable solution in rural areas. There, many more people live in their own property and have the opportunity to generate their own electricity on the roof, garage or shed. Such self-produced electricity makes driving an electric car much cheaper. At the charging station, a kilowatt hour of car electricity often costs 40 cents or more. When calculating the running costs of an electric car, the ADAC assumes 44 cents per kWh of electricity. With your own photovoltaic system, on the other hand, you can generate electricity for less than 15 cents. In recent months, used electric cars have also become significantly cheaper, on average they are now 10,000 euros cheaper than at the beginning of the year.

Fourth, the sun-to-money variant: Regardless of the e-car question, your own solar roof can also function as an investment. If you can cover your roof with PV modules at low cost and use it to generate electricity for the grid, it can be financially worthwhile. Take advantage of the still relatively new option of privately installing photovoltaic systems with an output of up to 30 kilowatt peak (kWp) and selling the electricity without having to pay taxes on income. Nowadays, a new solar system on your home usually works without any tax office or tax baggage. You can also save money on the purchase of the PV system, since the beginning of the year VAT has been completely eliminated.

Fifth, the green fund variant: And finally, you also have the opportunity to buy classic light green or dark green funds as an investment before Christmas 2023. The immediate climate impact of such systems is smaller than if you invest in your roof or thermal insulation. But not everyone has a house or a roof. And with a savings plan, such investments are possible from less than 50 euros a month. At »Finanztip« we recommend light green global equity index funds for the normal retail investors like you and me. The companies in these funds do less harm to the climate than those in conventional equity funds and have historically delivered similar returns over long periods of time as classic global equity index funds without any particular consideration for the climate. It is important that you invest in these funds for the long term, i.e. 15 years or more. This is because you can sit out interim price lows, which occur again and again on the stock exchanges.

There are many indications that these funds will continue to deliver good returns in the future. Strategically, companies that produce low levels of climate impact already have significant advantages. The EU's CO₂ certificate system envisages an increasingly significant burden on such emissions, to well over 2030 euros per tonne of CO₂ by 100. By 2050, even 400 euros per tonne are considered possible. The idea is that companies have a finance department that does the math. And companies will adapt faster than private individuals.

More on this topic

  • Before the heavy rain summer:Why insurance against natural hazards should become mandatoryA column by Hermann-Josef Tenhagen

  • Worthwhile change:How to get a good and cheap home insuranceA column by Hermann-Josef Tenhagen

  • Investments with a clear conscience:Sustainable investing - is there an easier way? An interview by Tim Bartz

  • Seal of approval for sustainability: How to invest your money with a clear conscienceBy Marilena Piesker

Protecting yourself from possible personal disasters caused by climate change is also a good idea.

A study for the German government estimates the coming climate damage in Germany at up to 900 billion euros. Withered spruce forests, container ships that can no longer navigate the Rhine due to a lack of water. Power plants that are shut down because of this. Immediately afterwards flood disasters like in the Ahr valley. To coincide with the climate summit, the government has compiled its successes and failures in adapting to climate change this week. Among other things:

  • The summer heat wave has caused around 2023 additional deaths in 8700. In Germany, we have already improved in the prevention of heat-related deaths. In 2003, during the great heat wave, doctors and statisticians counted 9500,<> additional deaths.

  • Disasters such as those in 2021 in the Ahr Valley and in North Rhine-Westphalia with 180 deaths. The federal and state governments have initially provided 30 billion euros for the damage. The insurers are also paying another 10 billion.

  • And, of course, the normal climate madness with consequences such as crop losses for farmers, forest dieback due to unusual drought, heat and bark beetles. In 2020, twenty times as many spruces died as the average of previous years.

But what can you do about it?

Sixth, the insurance variant: At the very least, you can protect yourself reasonably against many financial losses – with so-called natural hazard insurance. It pays if, for example, your house or apartment is severely damaged or destroyed by flooding, heavy rain, a landslide due to heavy rain or an avalanche. Natural hazard insurance is part of building insurance and is now regularly offered there, but often still not taken out. Sometimes it only makes the insurance cover more expensive by ten percent, but sometimes it becomes much more expensive. In any case, compare.
You can also take out natural hazard insurance as an add-on to your household contents insurance if you have one. In this case, tenants or owners of condominiums will also be paid if the basement fills up and furniture, books or the hi-fi system become unusable. The same is true if water enters the house through windows, balconies and terraces and destroys furniture or furnishings .
My natural hazard insurance as part of the household contents has already had to pay twice – because of water in the basement. The first time I lived in Berlin, I was still living on top of the hill – by Berlin standards. But the sewer system was overwhelmed by the heavy rain.
However, a price comparison is also urgently needed for household contents insurance. After all, insurers in the line of business only spend about 40 percent of the withheld premiums on claims, the rest remains with the insurance companies and their sales partners.

Seventhly, the blind variant: When it comes to heat, of course, sensible insulation of the house or apartment helps in prevention, but then blinds and roller blinds also help. There are subsidy programs for such retrofits. It is not only useful for your household to make efforts to improve the microclimate in gardens, on rooftops and in streets. Some municipalities are now specifically promoting the unsealing of farm areas. Waterworks and wastewater companies have been doing this for decades because it helps to relieve the pressure on sewer systems.

So, now you know a few things you can do that will hopefully take the pressure off your wallet in the long run and reduce your financial risks. The negotiators in Dubai and the government in Berlin will have to pay for the rest. And there is still a lot to be done, especially in this country. This week, the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin/Brandenburg confirmed once again that the federal government is not adhering to its own climate law. There was a lack of immediate programmes because the climate targets in the transport and building sectors were not being met (OVG Berlin-Brandenburg, judgment of 30.11.2023, OVG 11 A 11/22, OVG 11 A 27/22 and OVG 11 A 1/23).

The stupid thing in the end is that the climate doesn't care why a government doesn't make political progress. It's just getting warmer – and much more uncomfortable.