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

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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...
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Sustainability Research in a Sustainable Workplace

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

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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...
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The High Seas as Global Commons

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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...
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German government hands power sector back to energy corporations

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The Energiewende is a federal energy policy that started off as a grassroots movement. Just a few years ago, investments in the sector clearly reflected its origins. But amendments implemented in 2014 resulted in fundamental changes in the investor mix. If the government does not address the issue soon, one can only conclude that this...
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Renewable Energy Act: Switch from feed-in tariffs to auctions marginalises energy cooperatives

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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...
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Mental Dispositions and Sustainability: An Interview with Gerald Hüther

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

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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...
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10 Years of Geoengineering Research: Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Earth‘s Future

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2016 marks the tenth anniversary of Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen’s seminal 2006 contribution on geoengineering, “Albedo enhancement by stratospheric sulfur injections: A contribution to resolve a policy dilemma?”. In his essay, noting that attempts at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming had been “grossly unsuccessful”, Crutzen suggested that actively injecting sulfur particles into...
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One Healthy Arctic: The Challenges and Linkages between Environmental and Human Health and Well-being

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A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the latest Arctic Summit Science Week in Fairbanks, Alaska. Building on the outcomes of last year’s summit in Toyama, Japan (see my previous post), the scientific community is increasingly seeking to unify synergies between the social and natural sciences to tackle problems related to...
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