Taiwan and Germany can pursue more collaborations to promote decarbonization to mitigate the effects of climate change, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) founding director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber told an Academia Sinica symposium in Taipei yesterday.
Known as the “father of the 2-degree limit,” Schellnhuber delivered a keynote speech titled “The Climate Challenge and the Great Transformation.”
Academia Sinica President James Liao (廖俊智) opened the event by welcoming Schellnhuber’s return to Taiwan.
He last visited in 2015.
As Taiwan is a small island with limited energy resources, the nation faces more difficulties promoting energy transformation to achieve a carbon-neutral society by 2050, Liao said, but added that “everything is impossible until it is done.”
Schellnhuber said that “extreme weather is the new normal,” citing as examples the wildfires in the Amazon, heatwaves across Europe and rising average temperatures.
As anthropogenic carbon emissions continue to rise, how to prevent the world’s temperature from rising more than 2oC over preindustrial levels remains challenging, he said.
Germany is the first in the world to set a goal of phasing out nuclear and coal power by 2022 and 2038 respectively, and Taiwan can learn from Germany to avoid repeating the same mistakes, he told reporters on the sidelines of the forum.
Taiwan has extremely good potential in technological development, including electronics, digitalization and semiconductors, he said, adding that he expects the two countries to undertake more joint programs to mitigate climate change.
Asked what research areas deserve more attention, he said that two important trajectories are to promote decarbonization and to prepare for the impacts of extreme weather events, such as rising sea levels and stronger typhoons.
While oceans absorb nearly 93 percent of the Earth’s extra heat, human knowledge about oceans is inadequate, he said.
“The ocean is still our friend when it comes to global warming,” but if its capacity for absorbing carbon dioxide changes, people would be strenuously fighting on two fronts — the atmosphere and the ocean,” he said.
Noting that Taiwan is to launch three new ocean research vessels to replace three operational ones, Schellnhuber said Taiwan should be part of the global ocean observation system.
Schellnhuber and PIK head of the directors’ staff Daniel Klingenfeld on Tuesday also visited Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) and National Science and Technology for Disaster Reduction Director Hongey Chen (陳宏宇) in Taipei.
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