Germany has been one of the main drivers of international and EU policy on climate change, and hence one of the key drivers of Irish climate policy.

Until recently, there was political disagreement about whether draconian greenhouse gas emissions where needed, or drastic cuts would be enough.

In the last few months, two documents have appeared that suggest that this is changing. Both are available in German only.

The first paper, by a relatively junior researcher at think tank close to the Chancellery, suggest that (whisper it) the sacred two degrees target is perhaps infeasible, that (a few odd but not entirely crazy people have argued that) there is nothing special about two degrees anyway, and that we should perhaps keep in the back of our minds that one day we may need to consider whether a Plan B might be required. The extremely cautious tone of the paper is indicative of the scale of the heresy.

The second paper does not mince words. It is by the Scientific Advisory Council of the Federal Ministry for Finance, a body of 29 professors. The Council argues that climate change is not as big a problem it is made out to be, but that it can be solved at a relatively low cost with clever policy intervention. It further argues that the first-mover advantage in technological progress is a myth (the second mover is often better off) and that Germany should stop taking the lead as nobody else is prepared to follow.

Harbingers of change to come? Time will tell.