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.

 

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 clamps down on single-use plastic packaging and more

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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Less Panic, More Dynamic – Why Climate Protection Needs to be Framed Differently

Do you remember the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos? “I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act” – that was Greta Thunberg’s impassioned plea to the participants, and the rest of the world. Now, almost two years after her remarkable speech, the international community is celebrating the fifth birthday of the Paris Climate Agreement. On this anniversary, the focus has been firmly on the updates by individual state parties to their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). But there’s little to celebrate: only 21 of 197 states have submitted new or updated plans, excluding most of the major emitters. And concrete climate protection measures are few and far between.

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The Paris Agreement turns five: It’s high time we tackle the ocean and climate crises together

Five years have passed since the so-called ‘Paris Agreement’ was concluded at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) following years of deliberation between the member States. For the ocean, the Paris Agreement represents a turning point: previously issues relating to the ocean were side-lined in COP negotiations.

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The Impact of Narrative Messaging on Behavioral Change towards Sustainable Diets: Results of US Survey

Food consumption and production are one of the key entry points available to human societies for effecting a transformation towards sustainability. Food production is a major contributor to a whole range of environmental problems including climate change, biodiversity loss, water overuse, and air and water pollution. Also, unhealthful diets cause chronic disease and millions of premature deaths around the world each year. One common link between these two unsustainable trends is high levels of consumption of animal products—meat, dairy, eggs, etc., particularly in industrialized countries, but also increasingly in developing countries. Thus, efforts to shift diets en masse away from animal products towards plant-based foods can reap multiple sustainability benefits.

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Can the climate change agenda ‘save’ the Amazon?

Concern with the Amazon is common in international climate discourse. Indeed, “saving” the Amazon for the sake of the climate has become a rallying cry among climate policymakers and researchers alike. In this post, I want to argue that while curbing deforestation in the Amazon is undoubtedly important, framing the challenge as a mission to “save” the Amazon in order to fight climate change is problematic.

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A Green New Deal for the Amazon: Reconciling Conservation and Development

Brazilian geographer Bertha Becker referred to the Amazon region as the oldest periphery of the capitalist world system. Its colonial occupation, or 'frontier economy', is based on the continuous incorporation of available land and the exploitation of their resources – both of which are regarded as infinite. This perspective on the Amazon has existed for centuries and continues to loom large in Brazil today. To meet its growing demand for raw materials, the outside world assumed the rainforest to be of little value, discounting the services that it provides to humankind. This view encourages the rainforest’s destruction and is not sustainable. A model for the sustainable development of the Amazon region is feasible however and could play an important role in Brazil's post-pandemic economic recovery efforts.

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