Research and innovation are core prerequisites for coping with climate change. Climate data provides information on changes in the Earth's ecosystem and supplies decision makers with a reliable knowledge base on global warming and its impact.

The results of climate research provide facts for the social and political discussions on the challenges of climate change. In this light and embedded within international climate policy, the strategic goals of the German Federal Research Ministry are as follows:

  • trigger dynamic innovation for sustainable growth;
  • develop practical competencies for the application of climate knowledge; and
  • identify and address the most significant gaps in knowledge about climate change through high quality research.

The BMBF-funded research aims at pushing the limits of knowledge, while simultaneously catering to the demand for application-orientated knowledge and innovative solutions in the fields of politics, the economy and society. Essentially, the goal is to promote excellent research that is both innovative and relevant. The results should be practically applicable. To meet these requirements we are adopting an interdisciplinary approach, following a number of research approaches.

A better understanding of climate change and its impacts will provide stimuli for new channels of decision making, for new policies and innovative products, services and business models. As such BMBF seeks to address specific problems in different policy areas and sectors. This requires an efficient coupling of socio-economic and scientific competencies. BMBF has already adopted this approach with research activities in the field of Climate Services: Cooperation with the "Finanz-Forum: Klimawandel" (Climate Change Financial Forum) and the programme "KMU-innovativ" (programme for innovative SMEs) are examples of business-orientated innovation promotion.

Climate knowledge can be integrated directly into social practice, if exemplary solutions for climate change mitigation and adaption are developed, tested and implemented together with users. Practical relevance can be achieved in research formats, where research and practice exchange knowledge with each other and work together to define a research agenda that meets political, economic and societal knowledge requirements. Research, set in the context of governance structures for planning, investment and policy processes, is orientated towards the individual requirements of each end-user. Good examples of this approach are BMBF research initiatives in the field of adaption research, such as KLIMZUG (Climate Change in Regions) or the Science Service Centers on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use in Africa (WASCAL and SASSCAL).

We aim at closing gaps in our understanding of the climate system, as well as reliably estimating climate trends and climate impacts. Therefore, the BMBF has been promoting high quality research to accomplish these goals. This involves focusing fundamental research and model development on common goals as well as encouraging infrastructural cooperation. This approach is exemplified by the "HD(CP)² Programme" (Cloud and Precipitation Processes in the Climate System), and by "MiKlip – decadal Predictions", which develops a model system for mid-term regional climate forecasts and extreme weather phenomena, as well as by our innovative research infrastructures for atmosphere research and climate modelling.

Furthermore, BMBF-funded research addresses the economic and societal impacts of climate change. Questions raised by practitioners serve as a starting point for high quality research, which aims to explore possibilities and forms for governance options and policy designs. This requires a comprehensive consideration of socio-economic aspects and interactions, as well as an evaluation of different development pathways regarding costs, risks and opportunities, an approach exemplified by funding priorities such as "Economics of Climate Change", the climate impact model intercomparison "ISI-MIP", and the research-policy dialogue on climate engineering.

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