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"You don't want a planet like that"

The Hanseatic City of Hamburg can be credited for diligently building bridges, even in these difficult times when bridges are more likely to be shot up, and not just in the Ukraine.

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"You don't want a planet like that"

The Hanseatic City of Hamburg can be credited for diligently building bridges, even in these difficult times when bridges are more likely to be shot up, and not just in the Ukraine. This year's "China Time" is - due to the pandemic - the first such conference since 2018 and the ninth overall. The Senate organizes "China Time" as a political and cultural event. The Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, in turn, has been organizing the top-class business conference "Hamburg Summit - China meets Europe" every two years since 2004, the next time in presence is expected in 2023. Both events take into account Hamburg's close economic ties to China.

A two-day symposium in the Kaisersaal of Hamburg City Hall will focus on what the EU and China can and must do together to quickly and drastically reduce emissions of gases that affect the climate. The climate summit in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, which ended last week, showed how far the ideas differ. China still wants to be treated like a "developing country" when it comes to climate protection and therefore does not want to pay into an international fund to financially alleviate the climate-related destruction in the poorest countries of the world.

The biggest weakness of the symposium at China Time is that it mainly talks about and less with China about the great human issue. High-profile political participants directly from China were not there. Cong Wu, China's new Consul General in Hamburg, gave a short welcoming speech. China's richest real estate entrepreneur Wang Shi contributed a few minutes via video from Hong Kong, in which he primarily praised his own commitment to climate protection.

After all, Germany sent Jennifer Morgan, the former head of Greenpeace International, now State Secretary at the Federal Foreign Office and chief negotiator of the German delegation in Sharm el Sheikh. The EU's chief climate negotiator, Jacob Werksman, was also connected from Brussels.

Germany's most renowned climate researcher Mojib Latif, President of the Academy of Sciences in Hamburg, found the clearest words in the Hamburg City Hall. "China is no longer a developing country when it comes to per capita carbon dioxide emissions, it is on a par with Germany," he said. “Overall, China ranks second behind the United States in total carbon dioxide emissions since 1850. And this CO₂, which has been additionally emitted worldwide since industrialization, is responsible for the increase in the global average temperature of 1.1 to 1.2 degrees that is already visible today.”

Latif said the global community was a long way from achieving a temperature increase of no more than 1.5 degrees. "I refuse to talk about 'climate protection' at all up to now, because global emissions are constantly increasing." “. Latif particularly criticized the poor record for road and private transport.

If the global growth in resource consumption continues as it has so far, the global average temperature by the end of the century will be five degrees above that of 1850: “That would be a completely different world than today. You don't want a planet like that.” The Swedish chemist and later Nobel Prize winner Svante Arrhenius calculated these five degrees quite precisely in 1896 – without a computer or any other electronic aid.

From Latif's point of view, a drastic reduction in greenhouse gases is urgently needed in Europe, the USA, but also in China: "China wants to continue increasing its CO₂ emissions by 2030 and is now building many new coal-fired power plants that will run for decades. We don't have that time leeway.” India is a particularly critical factor. As early as 2023, India could overtake China as the most populous country in the world, with more than 1.4 billion people living in each of the two countries. In 2019, before the pandemic, India had annual per capita emissions of 1.8 tons of CO₂, compared to more than seven tons in China and around eight tons in Germany. "What happens if India follows China's development in CO₂ emissions over the past few decades?" Latif asked.

However, China's efforts to reduce greenhouse gases were also praised at China Time in Hamburg, by the Chinese speakers anyway, but also by the Europeans. China has made "impressive progress" in the expansion of renewable energies and electromobility, said Jennifer Morgan. However, the fact that China classifies itself as a "developing country" against the background of global climate protection "no longer corresponds to reality". Morgan called for much closer cooperation between China and the European Union on climate protection, the development of common technological and economic standards, better coordination of foreign trade policy, more bilateral cooperation between China and Germany, for example in urban development: "The sooner China reaches the peak of its CO₂ emissions, the faster it cuts its emissions, the better for China's economy too," Morgan said. "The world market of the future will be CO₂-neutral and 'green'."

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