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.

 

Germany’s G7 Presidency

Energy security, high expectations, and a climate club?

In 2022, Germany assumed the presidency of the Group of 7 (G7). Its term got off to an ambitious start but was soon overshadowed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In addition to the crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine, the war is having an immense impact on the energy sector and efforts to protect the climate, the extent of which cannot be calculated at present. At the same time, Germany now finds itself caught up in a severe crisis due to its dependence on Russian gas imports.

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Time is of the essence in the climate crisis – and so is the case for global justice and equity

We will not see quick transformations towards sustainable futures without the consideration of past and present inequalities and injustices. We can tackle the climate crisis much more efficiently and sustainably only if equity and justice are treated as top priorities by all countries at the negotiation table. While we acknowledge that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to today’s complex and diverse challenges, and that the process begins from different starting points, a closer look at the negotiations of the COP26 and ongoing actions around climate change can help us identify locations and processes that promote injustices and inequalities in preparations for the COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

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COP26

Environmental Impact, Coalition of Hope, and the Coal Issue

The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow is an important meeting for all countries. Research conducted at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) tackles many of the issues addressed in the negotiations. Some of our researchers attended the Climate Conference in person or virtually. We share some of their observations here.

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Exhibition

The Lights of Kigali

A brightly coloured dome stands out among the lights of Kigali: The convention centre shines in the Rwandan national colours of blue, yellow and green. For the Rwandan ambassador to Germany, Igor Cesar, its image symbolises progress and the spirit behind it: "When you fly over Kigali at night, you can see how far our electrification efforts have come. Rwanda is characterised by its will to advance technologically, but we don't want to lose our origins, our identity in the process." The architecture of the convention centre represents the Rwandan path between preservation and new beginnings: a modern building whose shape is reminiscent of a traditional hut.

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New Technology, Equity and the Law of the Sea

Advancements in new technologies open up new ocean industries and possibilities to explore the ocean. Some of these new technologies, such as swarms of underwater mini robots to map the seafloor or sensors on automated underwater vehicles, assist scientists in their work and produce growing quantities of ocean data.

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Energy Access, Water, Sanitation, and Food Security in Rural Areas: Insights from Rwanda

What kind of help do remote rural villages in developing countries need to sustainably improve their infrastructure? What is the state of electricity supply and services, the availability and quality of cooking solutions, and the quality of water access in these settlements? Is there a nexus between access to basic services and nutrition in these areas? And, if a project is implemented, how can progress made at the household level be monitored, reported, and evaluated? These questions are at the heart of the project “Action-Based & Impact-Driven Research: Establishing Collaborative Frameworks for Researchers, Impact Makers, and Sustainable Entrepreneurs (IMPACT-R).”

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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 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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An early opportunity to respond to the UN Call for a ‘Decade of Action’

On 5 March 2020, the Welsh Government and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) will be jointly hosting a shared learning event in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Berlin. The event, "The Future is Now", will be a tangible demonstration of Sustainable Development Goal 17, “Partnerships for the Goals”. Specifically, it will seek to show how collaboration between European countries, at a local and sub-national level, can strengthen our response to the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030.

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