The model region Berlin-Brandenburg
This section introduces three examples of challenges faced by the Berlin-Brandenburg region with a bearing on climate change mitigation and adaptation both now and in the future.
Climate change in urban spaces—the example of Berlin
The United Nations has predicted that about two thirds of the global population will be living in cities by 2050. More than 75 percent of Germans are already urban dwellers. The population of Berlin, too, is growing, and it is anticipated that it will reach four million by 2030.
Hot weather, heavy rainfall, flooding, and droughts are making life in urban areas increasingly difficult. Rising temperatures are a particular hazard for older people, small children, and people with chronic health conditions. A recent survey of businesses by Berlin’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) on the physical and mental strain caused to employees by heatwaves and on how heatwaves affect productivity found that about 40 percent of respondents had not yet considered adaptation strategies for their enterprises.
Integrated city and infrastructure planning clearly has a role to play in addressing these issues, and attention will need to be given to innovative construction materials, future-oriented mobility planning, and new land use concepts. Securing the participation of stakeholders and citizens will be a necessary part of this, as climate change mitigation and strategies for climate change adaptation are challenges faced by society as a whole. Knowledge transfer and participatory learning opportunities can contribute decisively to achieving this buy-in.
Phasing out coal as an opportunity for socio-ecological transformation
The EU has set itself the target of becoming climate neutral by 2050. The European coal regions, in particular, will experience transformative changes during this transition. Cooperative approaches and innovative ideas are necessary to ensure that the ecological transition also addresses social and economic challenges adequately.
The Federal German Government has adopted the “Structural Reinforcement Act for Mining Regions” to implement the EU recommendations on structural policy. Lusatia (the Lausitz) has been designated as a European model region and become a reference point for other European coal regions affected by decarbonization. Realizing focus areas for research and action there is envisaged in the spheres of transport infrastructure, tourism, economic development, and settlement development.
Research has not yet given sufficient consideration to the distributional effects of necessary transformation processes as they affect stakeholders, regions and nations. Such analyses are essential to secure social and societal acceptance for the large-scale structural changes that must now be delivered. Making findings from interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research projects available in the short term is an important desideratum, as such results could serve as a resource for political decision-making processes. Insights gleaned must also be made available and accessible to a range of target groups including people from different age groups.
The Brandenburg forests—fit for climate change?
In preindustrial times, 55 to 60 percent of the Earth’s landmass was covered by forest. Today, this figure stands at only about 30 percent. The forests that still remain are under threat from periods of heat, forest fires, and clearing to convert land to other uses. This is concerning not least because forests protect the Earth’s climate by binding CO2 and acting as carbon sinks. Forests also provide sustainable raw materials and fuel and promote biodiversity.
With 1.1 million hectares of forest, Brandenburg is among the five most forested German federal states. But these forested areas consist mostly of monotonous pine forests that are not very tolerant of heat. Only around 13 percent of Brandenburg’s forests contain a diverse variety of native trees. To cultivate healthy forests that can adapt to altered climate conditions, research on climate-resilient tree species will need to be given more consideration in future decision-making processes in politics and forest management.