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What we work on

Transformative Sustainability Research

The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) conducts research with the goal of understanding, advancing, and guiding processes of societal change towards sustainable development. Our researchers collaborate with diverse actors from science, policymaking and public administration as well as business and civil society to develop a common understanding of sustainability challenges and generate potential solutions. The Institute pursues a research approach that is transformative, transdisciplinary, and co-creative.

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News

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Climate policy

Carbon Pricing's Disappointing Effect on the Pace of Technological Change

In order to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, the world must reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Carbon pricing – recently introduced in Germany for transportation and heating – is viewed by many governments and experts as the most important climate policy instrument. However, a new study shows that carbon pricing has been less effective as a driver of technological change than was previously anticipated.

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Special Issue

New Solutions for Addressing Systemic Risks

Systemic risks like climate change, cyber security and pandemics are characterised by high complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity, and effects beyond the system in which they originate. That’s why novel research approaches and regulatory measures are indispensable for the evaluation and management of these risks. An interdisciplinary team around IASS Scientific Director Ortwin Renn recently published a paper on this subject, which appears as the first article in a special issue of the journal “Risk Analysis” edited by Renn and IASS Research Group Leader Pia-Johanna Schweizer.

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Energy transition

Supporting Renewable Electricity: EU Member States Should Coordinate Reform Efforts

The European Union recently adopted more ambitious climate goals for 2030 – their implementation is now the focus of debate. What do the Member States need to consider? A new study shows how important it is that governments coordinate policy reforms to support renewable electricity. Otherwise, many investors are likely to shift their focus to technologies that will continue to be subsidized or to countries where subsidies are still available. This outcome would increase the overall costs of expanding renewable electricity generation in Europe.

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Dossiers

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Brazil: Strengthening Resilience in Times of Crisis Dossier

With 200 million citizens of diverse ethnicities, Brazil is the largest and most populous nation in Latin America. Brazil is also home to most of world’s largest rainforest: the Amazon. The Brazilian economy is the ninth-largest in the world but has languished in recent years. A group of researchers at the IASS is casting a spotlight on sustainable development and democratic change in Brazil.

Links between greenhouse gases, climate change and air quality

Air Pollution and Climate Change Dossier

Air pollution and climate change are closely related. The main sources of CO2 emissions – the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – are not only key drivers of climate change, but also major sources of air pollutants.

Contributing to the Sustainable Development of Arctic Regions

Sustainable Arctic Futures: A Regional and Global Challenge Dossier

Temperatures in the Arctic are currently rising twice as fast as in most other regions on the planet, a phenomenon most strikingly evidenced by the decreasing extent and volume of Arctic sea ice over the last decades. At the end of summer 2012, the extent of Arctic sea ice was the lowest since satellite measurements began: a mere 3.41 million km2, which is 49% below the 1979 to 2000 average. Since then, summertime sea ice in the Arctic has remained at a historically very low level. The processes currently under way in the Arctic are embedded in climate, economic, legal and social systems and processes that reach far beyond the Arctic Circle.