Seeking solutions to the climate crisis
Over the years, climate change has grown in importance to become one of the most pressing global challenges of our time. Talks held at all levels between countries across the continents are an essential component of efforts to find long-term solutions to the climate crisis. Against this backdrop, Hamburg will be holding CHINA TIME 2022 - a key forum for exchange between representatives of the European Union (EU) and China, where a variety of strategies on how to combat the climate crisis will be discussed and the sharing of differing perspectives encouraged. The aims of the event include building and sharing knowledge, learning from each other and continuing the debate at all levels - professional, economic, social and political - beyond the event.
Climate change: an issue that affects every area of life
Since climate change has severe consequences and repercussions for all areas of life, the search for solutions requires input from stakeholders and experts across the board. CHINA TIME 2022 examines key relevant issues linked to a wide range of fields, from politics and economics to culture, science and education. It asks several pertinent questions, such as:
- What can the EU and China learn from each other in areas of expertise and specialisation?
- What political initiatives are currently in place?
- What challenges linked to climate change strategies is the global economy currently facing?
- What are the latest scientific insights telling us?
- How can Hamburg’s citizens find out more about this topical issue through cultural exchange?
These and many other questions will be explored in detail at CHINA TIME 2022’s three events, namely: the CHINA TIME SYMPOSIUM, titled “Discussing EU-China Climate Cooperation”, at the City Hall: CHINA TIME CULTURE, a rich programme of cultural highlights to be held across the city; and CHINA WEEKEND, with a focus on educational exchange and climate change, taking place in the Chinese Teahouse, Yu Garden, Rotherbaum.
Climate protection in China
There is worldwide recognition that if the global climate crisis is to be tackled, China must play an active role. China is currently the world’s biggest polluter, accounting for 30% of global CO2 emissions annually. However, with a population of more than 1.4 billion, China’s per capita emissions remain lower than those of many developed countries, including Germany. At the same time, the country has a huge list of big-ticket climate protection projects which can make a decisive contribution to worldwide efforts to reduce global emissions.
Climate protection yes, but a 2060 wait to be CO2-free
China will not become CO2-neutral until 2060, according to its own government’s plans, and greenhouse gases in the world’s most heavily populated country will continue to rise through 2030, President Xi Jinping said at the UN General Assembly in September 2020. During the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021, Chinese Climate Envoy Xie Zhenhua and US Special Envoy John Kerry announced that both countries wanted to work more closely together to obtain better climate protection. The two envoys said they planned to make public revised targets in 2025 - a step originally scheduled for 10 years’ time. China signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 and ratified it one year later.
World leader in solar and wind energy
China obtains 60% of its energy from coal-fired power plants and is continuing to build more of these facilities. However, at the same time, the country is investing heavily in renewable energies. Chinese companies are among the international leaders in both solar and wind power expansion, and are also heavily focused on hydrogen and nuclear energy. With installed capacity totalling 306 gigawatts of photovoltaics and 328 gigawatts of wind power at the end of 2021, China is the driving force in these key segments. Gobi Desert is home to the world’s second-biggest solar park, with what will be the largest energy storage facility internationally also under construction there.
Enormous expansion of electromobility
China is also a leader in the field of electromobility, with state and private companies expanding the charging infrastructure available on a huge scale. By the end of 2021, the number of charging stations had risen to 2.6 million, 43% of which are public. No other country sells as many electric vehicles as China.
Further information on China's climate protection activities (Topic Special by Germany Trade & Invest) can be found here.
Climate protection in Hamburg, Germany and Europe
The pressure on decision-makers in politics and business to make climate protection a number one priority has grown enormously in recent years. This has been due in large part to the extreme weather phenomena experienced worldwide and warnings from scientists, but also through the actions of climate protection movements such as FridaysForFuture.
Hamburg: committed to climate protection at all levels
Hamburg has had a climate plan in place since 2015 which targets reducing CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030, based on 1990 levels, and ensuring that the Hanseatic city becomes climate neutral by 2050. To achieve this, the climate plan was updated in 2019 to include a number of separate, standalone measures. This was followed in 2020 by the implementation of a Climate Protection Law that outlines verifiable remedial measures, such as increased use of renewable energy forms for heating, improvements in electric car conversion processes and an expanded public transport offer, as well as the promotion of sustainable construction.
In another sign that Hamburg is making climate protection a top priority, the coalition agreement of the new Hamburg government, formed in 2020, stipulated that a Senate Commission for Climate Protection and Mobility Change must be established under the leadership of the First Mayor, with a new Scientific Climate Advisory Board appointed by the senate to monitor the policy measures.
Hamburg is also a leader in climate protection research. The Cluster of Excellence “Climate, Climatic Change and Society” conducts basic research on the dynamics of the climate system, while also investigating social dynamics and how people interact with the environment. Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger inaugurated Germany’s only supercomputer, used solely for climate research, at the Hamburg Climate Computing Centre on 22 September, 2022.
Find out more about climate protection in Hamburg here.
Germany: reconciling climate protection and supply security
In its coalition agreement, the German government committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2045, as well as significantly expanding the renewables segment, especially the hydrogen component.
Last year, the Federal Constitutional Court made it a requirement for politicians to take preventative steps to ensure that the future younger generations have the right to look forward to would not be put in jeopardy.
Following this key step, the former government amended the existing Climate Protection Law, increasing the targets for lower CO2 emissions and bringing them forward to 2040. Germany now aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 65%, based on 1990 levels, by the end of the decade. The new, improved pledges also affect the CO2 reduction targets for 2030 in key individual sectors, namely energy, industry, transport, construction and agriculture.
The war in the Ukraine has left Germany facing a balancing act of staying on course with its climate protection commitments while securing the country’s energy supply at a reasonable cost.
Find out more about climate protection in Germany here.
Fit for 55: EU eyes global pioneer role
The EU’s plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 is mapped out in the “Green Deal” initiative. As an interim step, the EU has revisited its climate targets for 2030, making them more ambitious, and given a commitment to reduce its emissions by at least 55% by 2030.
As part of its “Fit for 55” package, the EU is currently revising its climate, energy and transport-related legislation, with the aim of aligning the current rules with 2030 and 2050 targets. The package also includes several new initiatives, such as the trading of CO2 emission certificates.
More on the “Green Deal” can be found here.