In September 2015, the world community decided on the „Sustainable Development Goals“ (SDGs) and in December 2015, the „Paris Agreement“ on climate change was unanimously accepted at COP 21. If implemented with high ambition and by cooperation of frontrunners these visionary world roadmaps could be a turning point in global climate and resource protection policies.

For climate and resource protection and to improve competitiveness and energy security, the sustainable transformation of the energy sector is of utmost importance. As leading industrialized countries we have a special responsibility to take the lead for implementing the “Paris Agreement” and to contribute as much as possible to a global deep decarbonization pathway.

Although there are many differences of framework conditions and energy policies, Germany and Japan are facing common challenges: How to establish a long-term risk-minimizing energy strategy based on public consensus and sound research, which protects the climate and natural resources and at the same time drives ecological modernization and international competitiveness of the economy.

For technology leaders such as Germany and Japan, a pathway to a decarbonized and risk-minimizing energy system may or may not create more benefits than costs. Energy efficiency, zero carbon technologies such as renewables, cleaner use of fossil fuels, sustainable mobility, resource efficiency and energy-related green IT are examples of global lead markets of the future, where Japan and Germany can and should occupy an outstanding role as key players.

Against this background, the idea to establish an independent, bilateral Expert Council was generated on the sidelines of the German-Japanese Environment and Energy Dialogue Forum (EEDF) in Tokyo in February 2014. On the initative of Prof. Peter Hennicke, the former president of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, a preliminary study financed by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) and carried out by the Wuppertal Institute and ECOS Consult in cooperation with the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) set out how such an “Energy Council” could give new impetus to energy and climate policies in Japan and Germany, and promote a shift to renewable energy sources across the world.

In May 2016, the Council was established with the support of DBU, the Stiftung Mercator Foundation, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Federal Foreign Office (AA) and backing of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).

With the German Energy Transition Council (GJETC) we have started an initiative, which can make a difference for research based knowledge exchange on the energy system transition in Japan and Germany. Intensifying the cooperation and extending the continuity of scientific knowledge exchange between Japan and Germany can help to find innovative answers and solutions in the mutual interest of both our countries. In so far, the research-based and independent work of the GJETC can contribute and support the many bilateral German-Japanese activities and dialogues on the government and industry level.