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According to German professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the solution to the climate problem does not need to be very complicated. "Build enough wooden houses and global warming goes into reverse. We can still save the world," he says in a Dutch article online on P-Plus.
Editorial office / Potsdam

Schellnhuber is highly regarded as a climate scientist. He was founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and a member of the UN climate panel IPCC. He advises the German government and the EU. In Britain, he received a royal award for his work.

Joachim Schnellnhuber (photo Hollin/Creative Commons)
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (photo Hollin/Creative Commons)

Technological solutions, such as geo engineering by introducing chemicals into the atmosphere or ‘sucking up’ CO2 with machines, he calls expensive and dangerous nonsense. He is more in favour of what he calls the ‘forestry correction pump’: trees capture CO2 in wood. This carbon is then stored in wooden houses for a long time while the forest grows back.

The plans were described in a scientific paper in Nature Communications1 last year. Calculations indicate that it would be sufficient to plant 500 billion trees, for example, on the 1 billion hectares of degraded land currently lying waste worldwide. In the most optimistic scenario, this ensures an emission reduction of 106Gtonnes of CO2 eq. In the most pessimistic scenario, there is still a reduction of 14 Gtonnes.

Housing shortage is a problem across Europe. In the coming years, millions of houses will have to be built to accommodate population growth. Bio-based construction is the only responsible way to do this. “If we build these houses the way we have always done, that will be the end of the climate story,” Schellnhuber said.

Read the full article on the website P+ (Dutch).

1 Mishra, A., Humpenöder, F., Churkina, G., Reyer, C. P. O., Beier, F., Bodirsky, B. L., Schellnhuber, H. J., Lotze-Campen, H., & Popp, A. (2022). Land use change and carbon emissions of a transformation to timber cities. Nature Communications, 13(1).

Image above: Ekaterina Kondratova/Shutterstock