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.

 

The transatlantic mobility challenge

The annual conference of the parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an important venue for stakeholders to highlight the blind spots of international climate protection efforts. The transport sector was one of them at this year’s COP23 in Bonn, missing from most countries’ climate pledges under the Paris Climate Agreement. In this neglected policy area, Germany and the U.S.

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Building transatlantic common ground in combating global warming

As the world gathered in Bonn for its twenty-third Conference of the Parties (COP23), the newly published Emissions Gap Report 2017 by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) helped to underline the mantra of the conference: all countries need to raise their climate protection efforts quickly and substantially.

The report shows that even if fully implemented, each nation’s current nationally determined commitments (NDCs), laid out by each of the signatories to th

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Is it Still OK to Fly?

Despite the fact that every single plane journey compounds climate change, many people still decide to fly. False incentives are to blame, says Katharina Beyerl.

I was recently asked to answer the question “Is it still OK to fly?” for a TV programme – in just ten sentences.

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Less Diesel, More Cargo Bike Sharing

With one “diesel summit” following swiftly on the heels of another these days, we should not lose sight of the overarching mobility transition project. Cargo bike sharing should be promoted to give city dwellers more alternatives to cars.

Let’s face it; a diesel car will never be clean. At best, it might become less dirty. While technical upgrades to diesel vehicles are essential, on their own they will solve neither the traffic problems in our cities nor the issue of dangerous emissions in the transport sector as a whole.

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Environmental Sustainability: A Bhutanese Expression

As a child, I lived near the forests and walked everywhere on foot because we did not have motorable roads, nor could my parents afford to buy a family car. If I were to narrate this story to sociologists or media reporters, then I would feel that I was exposing my limited wealth compared with people in developed countries. But when I shared my story with scientists at the IASS, I narrated it confidently, because they think that we are on the right path towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Poking holes in our mindsets: impressions from the Potsdam Summer School 2017

As an unprecedented weather event unfolded last week across the Atlantic Ocean, affecting Gulf Coast states and major cities in the United States as well as island communities throughout the Caribbean, over 40 young professionals and graduate students from over 30 countries gathered at the IASS to discuss “Human Environments in a Changing World” – the topic of the fourth Potsdam Summer School.

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Stop the blame game: Russia is waking up to climate change

During my last visit to Russia I was watching Russian TV – an awful source of propaganda and misinformation, according to many. To my surprise, one of the federal (i.e. government-controlled) channels was reporting about climate change in a primetime slot. To my further surprise, the program didn’t rehash the usual conspiracy theories about what a fraud global warming is, invented by western politicians with the goal of harming Russia. No, it was a rather good report, which explained the correlation between climate change and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events.

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No More Perks for Diesel

To improve air quality in the long term diesel vehicles must be subject to the same emissions standards as other vehicles and the tax advantages that diesel enjoys must be abolished.

At the recent ‘Diesel Summit’ in Berlin, politicians, car manufacturers and others met to discuss possible ways out of the current diesel mess. The measures on the table include banning diesel vehicles from cities, introducing a ‘blaue Plakette’, and retrofitting older models. But none of these will suffice.

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Renewable Energy in Africa: China is Indispensable

Without China, little can change in Africa. This is why Germany should work closely with Beijing on the issue of investments in climate-friendly infrastructure in Africa.

Following the USA’s announcement of its withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, the international community is facing the first serious crisis of global climate policy since the breakthrough in 2015. Initially, this may not have much impact on reducing emissions in the USA itself.

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Climate engineering: Recasting expertise?

Narrating the future makes it manageable. The stories we tell about emerging sciences and new technologies lay the groundwork for how we govern them. However, these stories—the casts involved, the roles assigned—change over time, and through them, our understanding of what matters for governance. The debate around climate engineering—the idea that it may be possible to intentionally intervene in the global climate—is a contemporary case of such storytelling.

‘Climate engineering’ is a discursive figure more than a technical term.

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Can Russia imagine a post-fossil fuel future?

No post-fossil future is imagined for Russia, least of all by the Russians. The kleptocrats flee the country and stash their bounty in safe havens, countries with confidential banking, enough rule of law to avoid the confiscation of their spoils, and pliable politicians to provide protection. The export of capital and the purchase of expensive houses and other assets outside Russia reveal that large parts of its ‘economic elite’ do not think they will stay in power for long.

The economic era of fossil energy will end, and petro-states will decline with it.

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