The Arctic Circle – A Report from Reykjavik

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Reykjavik to attend Arctic Circle 2015, a large gathering bringing together scientists, policy makers, civil society, intergovernmental organisations and industry representatives (the accompanying short film provides a snapshot of the event). The gathering is the brainchild of the Icelandic president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson and aims to...
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A Science Perspective on the Volkswagen Emissions Scandal

When I initially heard about the VW scandal, it was secondhand and I hadn’t read any of the news yet, I didn’t have any of the facts. But I remember thinking (and saying), I don’t know what the big deal is about, everyone knows those chassis dynamometer tests they use for estimating emissions don’t get...
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A Black Future for Coal

King Coal – as the most widespread and cheapest fossil energy source is often called – is entering a crucial, maybe definitive, phase. Indeed, worldwide coal consumption has decreased significantly in recent years due to a growing hostility to the generation of electricity using unsustainable coal. This global opposition comes from several different sources: political,...
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Sustainable Development Goals Must Recognise the Importance of Soils

In recent years research towards sustainable land policy has become a central pillar of the work undertaken at the IASS. Transdisciplinary projects with our partners from academia, society and politics have generated knowledge that can drive the transformation to sustainable land management. Our soils are not in good shape: according to conservative estimates, 24 million...
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How Far Will Germany Go on Fracking? Understanding the Proposed New Legislation

The debate on shale gas and fracking has polarised Europe, with some countries positioning themselves decidedly against fracking and others drawing up plans to use this technique. In Germany, the future of shale gas is still uncertain, but the year 2015 could be decisive. The country’s shale gas reserves are sizeable: according to the BGR...
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Germany and Brazil – Two Very Different Pioneers of Renewable Energies

This August, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and other ministers will travel to Brazil for intergovernmental consultations. They should seize this opportunity to breathe new life into cooperation on renewables under the German-Brazilian energy partnership. Closer cooperation with Brazil – a country that has been an important frontrunner of the global expansion of...
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Deep-sea Mining: Possible but is it Permissible?

How does one go about setting limits for industries and activities? Existing limits are currently being overstepped in many spheres of activity I could mention: the extraction of raw materials from the thawing Arctic, the production of shale gas, the potential use of methane hydrates, and the mining of ore from the deep sea. In...
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The 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement – UN Climate Conference in Bonn Brings Clarity for Legal Architecture

The eleven-day UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn drew to a close last Thursday and with it the deliberations among international climate law experts in which I myself participated. The main aim of the Bonn meeting was to work on a draft text for the long-awaited climate change agreement. This agreement is due to be...
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