Schellnhuber is honoured for the major impact he had with his institute on the international political discussion about the solution of the climate problem. Köhler and Schmitt, because they rehabilitated carbon dioxide as substitute for chemical climate killer refrigerants for A/C systems in vehicles, and Beate Weber, because she turned Heidelberg into a leading city in Germany with concern for climate protection and environmentalism.
Schellnhuber - untiring and uniquely qualified
Presenting the new award winners, DBU Secretary General Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde named Schellnhuber "one of today's most outstanding and creative personalities the German environmental research has to offer". Schellnhuber was characterized by multiple innovative research principles, with which he showed the solution of next century's global environmental problems. With infinite energy and stamina he was among the first who demanded sustainable solutions for the climate problem and with the uniquely scientific reputation of his institute he formed the approaches in the international political climate discussion decisively. Through his untiring work in Potsdam and his activities as academician of most important committees and bodies he was also on international level an "extremely influential scientific advisor".
Modeling climate change scenarios
Schellnhuber's scientific visions and his courage to overcome the classical disciplinary limits were inspiration and role model for many young scientists. Brickwedde: "Particularly with regard to the modeling and simulation methods developed by Professor Schellnhuber we get a much better idea of the ‘climate change phenomenon' and how to face the consequences." Konvekta's important groundwork for carbon dioxide as refrigerant in vehicles' air conditioning
Köhler and Schmitt from the medium-sized company Konvekta showed that important preliminary work for the possible application of carbon dioxide as refrigerant in vehicle air-conditioning could be achieved even with moderate means – for the benefit of climate protection. Refrigerants, which are jointly responsible for the greenhouse effect, still leak out of A/C systems, during accidents or the maintenance and disposal of cars. In great dimensions, like Brickwedde pointed out: “The emissions of carbon dioxide of about 2.5 million economical compact cars with an average annual mileage of 15,000 kilometres could be compensated by means of the alternative refrigerants”. Despite of significant technical and financial risks, Schmitt and Köhler decisively contributed to the development of this technology for commercial cars for more than 15 years and advanced it to series-production maturity. High personal and entrepreneurial risk prospensity and motivation combined with outstanding technical and scientific qualifications were the basis for this successful development in an industry that was shaped by large-scale enterprises.
Carbon dioxide's greenhouse potential is 1,300fold lower than that of present refrigerants for A/C systems in cars
It was down to the Konvekta AG as well, that the car industry finally decided to replace its present climate destroying refrigerants in A/C systems as per EU Regulation from 2011by carbon dioxide, which had a 1,300fold lower global warming potential. The company demonstrated the functionality of this technology and proved its sustainable and ecological character. Beate Weber - motivating a city for climate protection and nature conservation
In her 16 years long career as Lord Mayor of Heidelberg, Beate Weber was the moving spirit for climate and environmental protection. She even always represented the interests of nature protection. For a long time, even before everybody talked about the Agenda 21 and during a time “in which climate protection was still a foreign option”, said Brickwedde, Heidelberg had “ set benchmarks in the local environment protection”. In a campaign for climate protection, dimensioned for cooperation, the city of Heidelberg motivated already in 1991 its citizens, employees and planners to reduce the emission of climate-damaging carbon dioxide. Within a few years from 1994, Heidelberg reduced the emission of climate gases from its properties from 39,000 tons down to 25,400 tons per year - a decrease of 35 percent.
Sustainable economic policy as core element of Heidelberg's ecological principle
At the same time the economic and ecological concept of the city still played a major part. The ‘Heidelberg City Development Plan 2010’ pursued concrete measures for a systematical environment protection, of which a basic part was a future-oriented economic policy. Beate Weber and her fellows proved, that ecology did not oppose economical and social interests. Brickwedde: “The German Environmental Award for Beate Weber is not only an encouraging signal for Heidelberg, but also for the many in the local environment protection voluntary and full-time employed citizens, to go on with their efforts for safeguarding the future of our children and grandchildren”.