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.

 

How Can Local Governments and Civil Society Partner to Produce Sustainable Cities?

How can local governments and civil society partner to produce sustainable cities? This was one of the central questions cutting across four panels of the conference “Co-producing sustainable cities?”, which was organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in cooperation with the Technical University of Berlin. This conference served as a discussion forum in preparation for the adoption of the “New Urban Agenda”, which will be steering sustainable urban development for the next twenty years.

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“An enriching session”: Potsdam Summer School Participants and Local Students Discuss Climate Change

“Be unique, make a change” was one of the take-home messages from Potsdam secondary school students, who, together with young professionals attending the Potsdam Summer School, worked on the interpretation of a metaphor story about a giant frog originating from the culture of Australian Aborigines. Storytelling, lively discussions, and great views of Potsdam at sunset have been part of an event organized by the IASS in the framework of the 2016 Potsdam Summer School at the Bildungsforum Potsdam.

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Finding the Piece That’s Been Missing in Climate Science Education

A guest scholar at the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, Drew Bush is completing a doctoral dissertation in the Department of Geography and School of Environment at McGill University in Montreal. His research examines how inquiry-based teaching using a climate model developed by the Goddard Institute impacts student learning of climate change science.

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Can the G20 Summit Give New Impetus to a Global Energy Transition?

On 4 and 5 September the next G20 Summit will take place in Hangzhou, China. While the G20 was initially created as a forum for discussion and collaboration to prevent financial crises, in the last several years the promotion of a sustainable energy supply has been added to the agenda. Some important first steps have already been made, but they are far from sufficient to bring about a global energy transition.

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Sustainability Research in a Sustainable Workplace

Scientists working at the IASS address diverse topics across the field of sustainability research. But how sustainable is our institute? In the summer of 2014 staff at the IASS launched an initiative to seek answers to this question. Our goal is to promote sustainability at the institute and minimise its ecological footprint. We aim to reduce emissions, improve resource efficiency at the institute, and make sustainability a part of our everyday professional practice.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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