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.

 

Germany’s Federal States: Drivers of Participation in the Energy Transition?

Are Germany’s federal states becoming the drivers of citizen and civic participation in the energy transition? This hypothesis was the focus of debate at a workshop held in late June at the IASS in Potsdam to consider the implications of the new Citizen and Municipal Participation Law adopted in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (M-V) and the “Fair Wind Energy” guidelines promoted by Thuringia’s Energy and GreenTech Agency (ThEGA).

read more

The High Seas as Global Commons

It is Easter Monday and I am at the United Nations in New York in a full room of representatives from member states and organisations. An Easter chocolate bunny proudly stands on the European Union’s desk and provides for jovial talks before the meeting is officially opened by the Chair, His Excellency Mr Eden Charles from Trinidad and Tobago.

read more

Renewable Energy Act: Switch from feed-in tariffs to auctions marginalises energy cooperatives

With the adoption of the Renewable Energy Act (2014), Germany prepared the ground for the replacement of feed-in tariffs (FiTs), which provided grid operators with a set fee for every kilowatt-hour of wind energy or solar power, to an auction-based system in accordance with the requirements of the European Commission. This system has been tested in a series of pilot auctions for solar (PV) parks.

read more

Mental Dispositions and Sustainability: An Interview with Gerald Hüther

Professor Gerald Hüther was recently invited to speak at the IASS. Hüther is a neuroscientist and biologist at the University of Göttingen and the author of a number of best-selling works of popular science on brain research and the broad implications of its findings for society. In his lecture and subsequent discussions with the audience, Hüther talked about mental dispositions, their development and their potential role in promoting sustainable practices and contributing to the emergence of a culture of cooperation and co-creation.

read more

Focus on Fulfilling the Climate Agreement instead of Lowering Power Prices: a Comment on the Debate about the “EEG Fund”

Once again, the political discussion is focusing on a state fund to finance renewables in Germany instead of using a surcharge on power consumption. This time, Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer is calling for it. At first glance, it seems to be a good idea." For a long time, Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) provided renewable technologies with support similar to that given to other technologies, such as nuclear power, by means of taxes.

read more

Consensus with Losers

The train lines are blocked, demonstrators are chained to railings, trains with problematic freight are brought to a halt, and there is a big on-site police presence. It all sounds very familiar. On this occasion the setting is Germany’s Lausitz region, and once again, like previously further to the north in Wendland, a broad civic action movement is mobilising for a responsible energy policy.

read more

Social Benefits of Renewable Energies

Boosted by impressive technological innovation and cost reductions, renewable energy in a growing number of countries is now primarily considered for its social and economic benefits. Among these benefits are opportunities for local value creation, for responding to growing energy demands and for reducing conflicts over scarce water, which are aggravated by fossil power generation.

read more

Federal States Introduce Schemes for Citizen Participation in Wind Energy Projects - Part 1

On 20 April 2016 the federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern enacted the so-called “Citizen and Municipal Participation Law” in an effort to boost acceptance for new wind energy projects and ensure they add value to local economies. Thuringia has also adopted a set of voluntary guidelines for “Fair Wind Energy “ that aim to enhance the economic participation of citizens and towns in the wind energy sector.

read more

Soil Rehabilitation: A Field Mission to Kenya

I made my trip to Kenya in the middle of November 2015, not too sure what to expect of Kenyan culture. Flying into Kisumu, a city located on the shores of Lake Victoria, you can’t help but notice the lush green landscape below, stretching as far as the eye can see. You wouldn’t immediately suspect that this region is severely affected by land degradation. Yet the soils here and the people depending on them for their livelihoods need urgent help.

read more

Climate Migration post-Paris

In the aftermath of COP21 in December 2015, when the world celebrated the adoption of a new climate treaty, several commentators and academics asked an all important question: what about climate migrants? Many articles have since sprung up analysing whether and how climate migration has been addressed by the Paris Agreement.

read more

Methane Cracking – a Promising Bridge Technology on our Road to Decarbonization

Meeting global energy needs represents a key challenge for climate change mitigation. This is because the energy system today is dominated by fossil fuels, which emit a significant amount of CO2 to the atmosphere. In fact, the energy sector is responsible for the majority of anthropogenic emissions, contributing more than 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.[1] In order to avoid dangerous climate change it is crucial that we transition our global energy system away from fossil fuels and towards low-carbon, sustainable energy.

read more

Should We Print Money to Make the World More Sustainable?

Over a leisurely Sunday family dinner, when the conversation turns to putting the world to rights, your niece or second cousin may have asked you the following question: Why not simply create money and give it to poor people in order to make a better world?

You may have smiled at the ingenuity of this question and told them that this is simply not possible. Otherwise, money would just lose its value and inflation would rise.

read more