Leopoldina focuses on sustainability

April 29, 2020
On 13th April, the German National Academy of Sciences published its third ad-hoc statement on the corona pandemic. FHI Director Robert Schlögl was part of the working group that recommends sustainable action and the expansion of renewable energies.

The third ad-hoc statement of the Leopoldina deals not only with matters related to health in the corona pandemic, but also focuses on social and economic measures. The members of the working group explicitly advocate sustainable principles of action. High priority is given to "developing a climate-friendly economy", and to this end “immediately introducing a carbon price for CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, passing and implementing the national hydrogen strategy as soon as possible, and reforming electricity market regulations” is necessary, the statement reads.

Robert Schlögl, Director of the Department of Inorganic Chemistry at the Fritz Haber Institute (FHI) of the Max Planck Society, has long been convinced that green hydrogen production is crucial. He and the other Directors of the FHI dedicated to fundamental research are investigating the reactions of special catalysts needed for the production of synthetic fuels from hydrogen or CO2. Schlögl believes that a return to fossil fuels is not advisable, especially when considering how advanced the necessary science is. Instead, the energy system should be heavily invested in and thus fundamentally restructured. "This is also a unique innovation opportunity for Germany and Europe," explains Schlögl. He as well as the whole Leopoldina working group hope that this will result in long-term economic growth. It will, so they believe, not only lead Germany and Europe out of the current crisis, but also make them more resilient in the future. At the Petersberg Climate Dialogue on 28th April 2020 Chancellor Merkel also confirmed that the revitalisation of the economy after the Corona crisis must be realised sustainably.

In an article written for the Süddeutsche Zeitung (published on April 17, 2020), Robert Schlögl and Jürgen Renn of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, who also contributed to the Leopoldina ad-hoc statement, and Christoph Rosol, coordinator of the Anthropocene Research Group at the MPI for the History of Science, once again emphasize the importance of climate protection. It should for example not be forgotten that respiratory diseases, which increase the risk of mortality in the current pandemic, are directly related to air pollution. "People are living healthier and longer in a defossilised society," the authors write, underlining the holistic importance of moving to renewable and CO2-neutral energies.

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