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Head for the great outdoors instead of the bar

© Marc Pell

Climatologist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber provides suggestions for climate-friendly travel at ITB Berlin NOW

For the new form of tourism the natural world provides a win-win solution to the challenges of climate change, as Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, emeritus director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), explained at the ITB Berlin NOW Convention. And now it is time to apply this solution.

One of the most effective means of reducing emissions on a worldwide scale is to renounce the use of mineral construction materials. Schellnhuber therefore recommended focusing on timber buildings. “Nature is our best friend in our efforts to combat global warming”, he said. A 30 per cent reduction in emissions can be achieved by replacing cement, concrete and steel with renewable raw materials. This positive effect is augmented by the fact that wood creates a more pleasant ambience and is also more economical in the long term.

Although the pandemic has had the effect of reducing global warming, this is only temporary and is not enough to enable climate objectives to be reached, the climatologist stated. He reported that critical emissions fell by 5.8 per cent in 2020, with the largest reductions being in the transport sector. “All the growth trends have been interrupted.” Schellnhuber expressed the hope that those in positions of responsibility would be able to develop solutions for the problems presented by climate change, which have only been addressed half-heartedly so far, and gave as a positive example the suggestion by the president of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for the establishment of a new Bauhaus”.

Asked where the wood for new buildings would be obtained, he responded that there is currently an over-supply of construction timber. Using new technologies, in Africa it would be possible to establish forest resources, for example in the southern Sahara, but the majority of existing forests would also be suitable. It is already the case that 95 per cent of forest resources in Germany are already being commercially exploited. However, the forestry industry would have to be organised in a more sustainable way. Since forests would in any case have to be restructured due to climate change, this would be a good opportunity to apply this new approach in practice.

A further recommendation to the industry from Schellnhuber was for an increase in active vacations: “Why not help to save the world during holidays, instead of hanging around in boring bars?”


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