Headline: Blog

The blog of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) contains contributions from employees in all IASS areas and covers a huge range of themes. In addition to discussing the latest research findings and events, the blog authors comment on political developments. The authors express their personal views.

 

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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Coronavirus

Lessons from the Corona Crisis for sustainable crisis management

Not since the Second World War has German society experienced a challenge to society that compares to the current global pandemic. While it is not possible at this point to fully assess the implications of this crisis for public health, the economic and society, the measures and regulations adopted to date are unprecedented in post-war German history in terms of their scope and impact on citizens across the country.

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Coronavirus

Investment in the Future: How a Green Covid-19 Stimulus Package Can Advance the Energy Transition

The corona crisis is not only threatening our health; it’s also shaking our economic systems to the core. A fall of global stock markets by as much as35 per centin the first quarter of this year means that a recession is imminent. The energy sector is also affected, with the price of oil plummetingand renewable energies also facing difficulties. Coronavirus infections, prolonged curfews, short-time work, and border closures are all affecting the supply chains of wind and solar energy technologies. Investment has all but dried up. In this situation we can learn from the experience of tackling previous economic crises and should opt for a “green” stimulus package in a three-step government programme of relief, recovery and reform. To accelerate and bolster the energy transition, all of the measures implemented in these three steps need to be scrutinised for their long-term viability.

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Coronavirus

Safety First? Core Values in the Discourse of Sustainability

In the concluding part of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy, set in an unspecified but not too distant future, an artificially designed virus brings humankind to the verge of extinction. Told over long stretches through the flashbacks of the few remaining survivors, the pandemic, short and devastating, is what holds the plot together. Yet it’s not the pandemic that I’m reminded of in the midst of the corona crisis, but rather the social conditions in which it plays out. In Atwood’s dystopia, high-tech production centres are surrounded by gated communities where the business and technology elites live in sheltered luxury. Beyond these compounds, in the so-called pleeblands, most people are at the mercy of criminality and the whims of private security services, as well as being subject to higher mortality due to sporadic, localised epidemics. When the ultimate virus strikes, it wreaks havoc in the absence of solidarity and a functioning state.

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Pandemic

Coronavirus shows it’s time to get strategic about renewable energy technology

The international health crisis has exposed a serious problem for energy systems – we’re not taking renewable energy technology seriously as a critical asset. Most solar panels today are made in China, and a shortage of key components means that Europe is now facing major delays in new installations. Wind power faces a double whammy – manufacturing is down, and countries may not have the personnel and parts locally to keep systems running. Countries should aim to build up national clean tech infrastructure in the same way that they ensure strategic reserves of fossil fuels.

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Coronavirus

Towards a post-Covid-19 new development paradigm: The Planetary Health solution

Humans are intrinsically connected to the natural environment. This fundamental truth has been neglected by the way we conceive our development choices and we implement policies. The Covid-19 pandemic is an unfortunate reminder. Occurrences of diseases that cross over from wildlife to human populations (zoonotic diseases) are increasing and highlight how human health, animal health, and natural ecosystems are one. The current crisis shows us that we’ve lost a necessary symbiotic relation between humans and their natural environment. We, humans, are not separate from nature. We are nature.

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