Headline: Blog

Im Blog des Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) schreiben Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter aus allen Bereichen des Instituts. Die Themen reichen von Forschungsergebnissen über Veranstaltungsberichte bis hin zu Kommentaren über politische Entwicklungen. Die Autorinnen und Autoren äußern auf dem IASS-Blog ihre persönliche Meinung.

 

Pandemic

Realising the Transformative Potential of Decentralised Renewable Energy in Emergency Response

The vital role of electrification in emergency response has become strikingly clear during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Electricity is indispensable for the effective operation of healthcare facilities and the provision of health services, the timely diffusion of information, and undisrupted communications at a time when social isolation measures are in place. Access to electrification also makes it easier to carry out important household activities and follow essential hygiene recommendations. The pandemic has therefore served as a reminder of the vulnerability of the 860 million people who have no access to electricity, most of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa.

read more

Facing Down the Plastic Flood – Recycling, a Plastic Tax, and the Barriers to Behaviour Change

In May 2020 I was a guest on an episode of the TV show “Planet Wissen” dedicated to “Pathways out of the Plastic Flood”. It was an opportunity for me to talk about the preliminary results of our work in the ENSURE project on “Plastic: Social Perception and Behaviour Patterns”. The journalist Andrea Wojtkowiak had sent me a few questions in advance, but – as is so often the case – there wasn’t enough time to discuss everything in detail during the programme itself. So for all those interested in the issue of plastic, here are the more in-depth answers.

read more

Cycling through times of change

In Berlin, one unique change that has continued to develop over the past few months is the installation of “Pop-up” bike lanes on busy streets around the city. Citing the pandemic, city officials have been fast-tracking plans for new, protected bike lanes in order to allow citizens to travel safely by bike and avoid overcrowding in public transport. A recent IASS Study shows that these new bike lanes are strongly supported by people who identify primarily as cyclists, pedestrians, or users of public transport, but are disliked by those who identify as car drivers. While these results are unsurprising, they capture Berlin’s quite recent citizen-led shift in transport policy, ultimately culminating in the recent Mobility Law of 2018. That does not mean, however, that these new bike lanes are without criticism.

read more

CO2 carbonation: cleaning-up the cement industry?

In the European Commission’s “Coronavirus response”, President von der Leyen recently announced the aim of building “a modern, clean and healthy economy, which secures the livelihoods of the next generation”. But what does that mean for high emitting industrial sectors such as cement production? Are they part of “yesterday’s economy”, or will they successfully transition to more sustainable modes of production? Over half of all the materials that humans use on Earth are “cementitious” – including concrete, cement and other building materials – and it is difficult to imagine a life without cement.

read more
Coronavirus

New forms of cooperation between science and business

Crises create the space and time for us to question long-held beliefs and to debate new possibilities. The current crisis shows more clearly than ever before the need for new and previously unimagined – or seemingly impossible – solutions to advance the transformation of our societies towards sustainability. And it needs people with the ability to make these new ideas reality. Little has been made of the potential benefits of cooperation between science and business in such vital areas as mobility and energy transitions. Pooling expertise from science and business, and involving political decision-makers, non-governmental organizations, and the public in relevant debates, could unlock previously untapped potentials for sustainability transformations.

read more
Coronavirus

A Tale of the Golden Goose and the Ugly Duckling: Impacts of the Pandemic on the Argentinean Energy Sector

Argentina is among the countries hardest hit by the social and economic consequences of the current pandemic. The ECLAC is predicting the worst economic crisis in the history of Latin America, with a fall in GDP of over 5% and millions more people pushed into poverty. Argentina, which is currently renegotiating its massive external debt, could suffer a drop in GDP of 6.5% or more. In order to mitigate the impacts of the crisis, the government is responding with some immediate relief measures – tax deferrals, subsidies for low-income families, and special financial measures for different sectors including energy – as well as planning a quite ambitious recovery program. The decisions that are being taken today are likely to have a profound effect on the energy sector for decades to come. These decisions are influenced by visions and narratives associated with different sectors, with oil and gas being the “golden goose” and renewables the “ugly duckling”.

read more
Pandemic

Lack of Clean Cooking Energy Aggravates Coronavirus Impact in Africa

Around the world the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted life as we know it. However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the coronavirus exists on top of many underlying health, social, and economic inequalities, and vulnerabilities. While cases have remained low in most countries in Africa, the actual situation is not known, especially due to the lack of testing abilities and limited data. The best hope for African countries is to be spared by the coronavirus, but in truth, people are already suffering from the burdens of stringent lockdown measures imposed to contain the spread of the virus.

read more
Pandemic

The mask in the Coronavirus crisis: a symbol of risk perception, politeness and community spirit

Alongside the increase in the number of Coronavirus-infected people, perhaps the biggest change in Germany in the last few weeks has been the change in the perception of the risk of the virus. A good symbol for this ongoing transformation is the mask. The assessment of its benefit has developed very dynamically, not only in the medical field but also among politicians and citizens. A small piece of cloth therefore represents something bigger, which will raise interesting questions for future research in various fields, such as medicine, law and social sciences.

read more
Coronavirus

Germany’s Covid-19 response is not gender-just: here is why

On April 15th, the German government announced plans for a step-wise re-opening of economic and social life after a 5-week Corona “lockdown.” In a first step, shops smaller than 800 square meters as well as car dealerships and bicycle shops have reopened under strict hygiene and anti-crowding conditions. In early May, schools will begin to re-open, with priority given to classes that need to graduate to the next level.

read more
Coronavirus

Will the pandemic widen the global digital divide?

Many countries are riding a wave of digitalization in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with office staff working from home, friends meeting on video conferencing platforms, online trade booming and governments rolling out tracing apps to track infection chains. However, developing and emerging countries could suffer setbacks in their efforts to strengthen their economies and societies through the adoption of digital technologies. Now more than ever, states must double down on efforts to ensure a globally just digital transition.

read more
Coronavirus

Crises as climate catalysts

The Corona crisis has strongly reduced CO2 emissions. Such short-term effects are nice, but mean little for climate protection. However, we know from past crises that they can speed up transformation processes. With the right policy responses, the crisis can be a turning point to carbon-neutrality.

read more