March 16, 2023

Can we preserve the world while enjoying it?

In his session at this year’s ITB Convention, Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber outlined how the travel industry can tackle climate change and other major challenges. 

Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Founder and Director Emeritus at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Founder and Managing Director of Bauhaus Erde, returned to ITB Berlin to reveal how the travel industry has changed for the better, and what challenges still need to be addressed regarding sustainable travel and tourism. 

Professor Schellnhuber discussed in detail the obstacles the travel industry has at large regarding climate change, and how the next two decades are pivotal for taking decisive action. After providing key data regarding climate change, the professor noted the “wonderful solutions we have in store.”

The commitment of net zero emissions by 2050 was the first to be brought up, and in the words of Professor Schellnhuber “there is no other way.” Another important step, according to the professor, was to remove historical emissions, or negative emissions, from the atmosphere. “The simple formula is reforesting the planet,” he said, stressing the importance of avoiding concrete and steel and instead using natural materials such as wood, bamboo, hemp and a concept known as “regenerative architecture.”

One example of this is the Jakarta Hotel in Amsterdam, built entirely from timber, which the professor said could be an inspiration for future structures across Europe and the world. “If we use renewable resources actually built and provided by the biosphere, and use them in the right way, we can actually build ourselves out of the climate crisis,” he said. 

Professor Schellnhuber also discussed the importance of making natural spaces, like forests, climate-resilient. “We have to rebuild our forests,” he affirmed. “We have to make them more diverse […] in order to withstand the new extremes of climate change.” 

Photo: “Tourism: Can we preserve the world while enjoying it?” Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Direktor Emeritus (PIK) | Founder and Managing Director (BE), Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) | Bauhaus Erde GmbH