Thursday, August 4, 2022 at 11 am – I went to the German Consulate and had a good talk with the new Consul General Eichhorn. He is replacing Dr. Klaus Otto Schmidt, who has now retired and has moved back to Germany. GK Eichhorn came here to Vancouver with his wife, Susanne, who is also working in the German Consulate in a different department.
GK Eichhorn spent the last 5 years living and working in Berlin. He was very happy to receive a job posting in Canada, especially in BC. His new home is in Kerrisdale, close to the Arbutus Greenway. Once his container arrives from Germany, GK Eichhorn hopes to be able to commute to work by bicycle, thanks to the excellent cycling infrastructure in downtown and Vancouver. Besides cycling, GK Eichhorn also enjoys kayaking and hiking, also in winter, as he is very excited about seeing snow.
In his former post, GK Eichhorn had two separate tasks. The main one that took up most of his time, was climate change and environmental issues, especially in terms of replacing existing fossil fuels with clean energy or coming up with innovative solutions to get industry closer to carbon neutral. Germany aims to become greenhouse gas neutral by 2045. The second task GK Eichhorn worked on was Arms Control Issues, which was also interesting.
GK Eichhorn feels that a crisis can lead to great creativity, such as now that Russia reduced the flow of gas through the Nord Stream One pipeline by 60 per cent, Germany will need to look for alternate solutions. At least before winter arrives. At the moment, the flow of gas has beenreduced to around 20%. This might be a good opportunity on coming up with new ways to heat homes, fuel cars and transport goods.
According to a recent article in the CBC “We’re now on alert stage two,” said German Ambassador to Canada Sabine Sparwasser. “People are asked to change heating systems, people are asked to cut down on their consumption. And our energy ministry even said you can cut down on the shower time.”
Currently GK Eichhorn is using the car available to the Consulate, but he is soon hoping to commute to work regularly by bicycle, instead of driving. He is even looking forward to rain and possible snow, as there were months where it didn’t rain in Berlin leading to water shortages. Water levels in many lakes are sinking as are groundwater levels, particularly near the water-hungry capital of Berlin, according to the Deutsche Welle. In Vancouver, this won’t be an issue. GK Eichhorn also won’t let rain stop him from another hobby he has: hiking.
As for his overall assignment in Vancouver, GK Eichhorn hopes to spend time in areas involving clean/green energy, climate change, the environment, the economy, First Nations and his favourite, science & research. The economy in Vancouver is connected to China, Japan or Korea, but science on the other hand, is closely connected to Europe. GK Eichhorn has already been to the TRIUMF Lab at UBC, where he met a German researchers. He also attended an event at UBC connected to the Fraunhofer Institute and spent time in BCIT with Mark Chiarello, who is the Associate Director of Global Relations and on the board of the German Canadian Business Association.
While he is residing here in Vancouver, GK Eichhorn also plans to spend time visiting other areas that his consulate is responsible for. Northern British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. There is also a long list of local tourist attractions in British Columbia, that he is hoping to see, like Haida Gwaii, formerly Queen Charlotte Islands. He hopes that four years are long enough to fit everything in. The last time he was in Canada was 1977, and he fondly remembered his trip through Calgary and the Rocky Mountains.
The posting to Vancouver is considered a dream job and one of the top 5 consular favourites in the world. One aspect is that there are a lot of things that Canada and Germany have in common. Things like, a shared commitment to preserving the rules‑based international order in areas such as security and disarmament, human rights, as well as climate and energy policies. Also, more than 1000 bilateral collaborations have been established between Germany and Canada since the signing of the German‑Canadian Intergovernmental Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation in 1971.
An interesting point GK Eichhorn made was that there is no mandate for Germans living in Canada to sign up with the German Consulate. This means, there is no way of knowing how many Germans are actually living in Greater Vancouver. This is especially interesting when it comes to the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a progressive trade agreement between the EU and Canada. So far, no one has collected actual statistics to see how many businesses have been established in Vancouver or people have been hired from Germany. This is something that would interest me; seeing CETA in action.
GK Eichhorn is otherwise looking forward to establishing good relationships within his consular district and planning interesting events, such as the “Day of German Unity” celebration to be held at BCIT this year. He is also looking forward to getting to know the German Canadian Business Association and other German institutions in Vancouver. In his spare time, he plans to hike, bike, kayak, enjoy sledding in the snow and sight-see. If anyone has any recommendations, you can contact him at the German Consulate or attend one of the many German-related events planned for this fall.
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