Headline: Blog

The IASS blog contains contributions from employees in all IASS departments and covers a huge range of themes. In addition to discussing the latest research findings and events, the blog authors comment on political developments.

 

Justice and the Climate Crisis: Germany’s Constitutional Court Rules on Climate Action Legislation

On 29 April 2021, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court handed down a truly historic judgement when a complaint filed by nine young people against the Federal Climate Change Act (2019) (Bundes-Klimaschutzgesetz – KSG) met with partial success, with the court ruling that some of the provisions of the Act are incompatible with the fundamental rights of youth especially.

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A bank for the ocean and a sustainable future

Thirty years ago today, world leaders came together to launch the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a bold initiative to foster change in an economic system that was degrading both the environment and indeed entire societies. Today, with the ocean facing unprecedented threats, a similarly bold initiative is required.

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Is Mitsubishi’s withdrawal from the Vinh Tan coal power plant a signal for Vietnam’s energy transition?

In late February 2021, Japanese trading company Mitsubishi Corporation decided to pull out of the Vinh Tan 3 coal-fired power plant project in Vietnam after facing considerable pressure from investors and activists over the company’s fossil fuel investments. This decision follows in the footsteps of HSBC’s withdrawal one year previously. Scheduled to go on-grid in 2024, the 2-gigawatt plant was expected to feature ultra-supercritical technology. This is the first time that Mitsubishi has pulled out of a coal development project. Work on Vinh Tan 3 will now continue under the aegis of China Southern Power Grid, which is also a major investor in the Vinh Tan 1 power plant. However, this outcome will not serve the interests of Vietnam in terms of job creation, air quality, and achieving climate targets.

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The Amazon - From the periphery to the centre of discussions

The behavioural and production patterns of humankind have put the world on a collision course with our planetary boundaries. As global warming leads us towards large-scale disaster, ecosystems are becoming more fragile by the day and social inequality is growing fast. We must urgently move towards a more sustainable and equitable collective existence. This text is about the consequences of current unsustainability, rather than its causes.

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Remembering Paul Crutzen: A Grand Scientist who took on the Grand Challenges of the Anthropocene

Paul Crutzen, who left us last month, on 28 January 2021, aged 87, was certainly one of the most important Earth system scientists of the Anthropocene.
Paul’s work covered a wide range of topics. His earliest work focused on stratospheric ozone chemistry, through which he helped develop an understanding of the potential effects of human activities, including supersonic aircraft, on the Earth’s ozone shield. His work also provided a basis for understanding the Antarctic ozone hole, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, together with Mario Molina and Sherry Rowland.

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Academic statement

Proposals on the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement and the Environment

Together with an interdisciplinary group of academic experts, we were invited to develop a set of practical proposals to address serious environmental issues raised by the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement (EUMAA). While recognising the broader developmental and human rights context in which EUMAA is taking place, the statement concentrates on five priority issues.

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Amendment to Packaging Act

Putting the brakes on plastic packaging waste

"The Packaging Act of 2019 is already having an effect here [on recycling]. But there is still far too much packaging waste in Germany. More than half of all plastic waste is disposable packaging, and that really bothers many citizens, and it really bothers me personally", remarked Minister of the Environment Svenja Schulze on the latest amendment to Germany’s Packaging Act (the Verpackungsgesetz).

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Can a voluntary approach reduce packaging waste?

Germany's first Waste Prevention Programme was adopted by the federal government in 2013. According to Section 33 (9) of the Circular Economy Act, programmes must be reviewed every six years and revised, if necessary. In early January 2021, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety published an updated Waste Prevention Programme titled “Treasure Not Trash” (an information brochure in English is available here).

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What can justice look like on the bottom of the ocean?

With the rapid growth of the technology sector over the past decade, the demand for metals such as copper, manganese, cobalt and other rare earth minerals has increased many times over. The deep seabed as a potential source of these minerals seems particularly attractive against this backdrop, especially as industrial deep seabed mining is now close to operationalization.

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Hydrogen: A Future Cornerstone of EU-Russia Energy Relations?

Green hydrogen is set to play a central role in the efforts of the European Union and many EU member states to decarbonize different sectors in order to reach their 2050 climate goals. The hydrogen strategy adopted by the European Commission in July 2020 seeks to make green hydrogen an integral part of Europe’s energy system by 2050. In particular, the strategy emphasizes the potential of green hydrogen in sectors where direct electrification is a challenge, including energy storage, heavy-duty transport, aviation, shipping, and energy-intensive manufacturing. However, in order to enable a market ramp-up for hydrogen, low-carbon hydrogen derived from fossil fuels is also being considered as a production option alongside green hydrogen.

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