Who’s Afraid of Open Debate?

Political decisions on controversial research subjects such as plant genetics and fracking are highly relevant for society at large. That’s why the rules that govern such research should not be dictated by the interests of activists. Ralf Nestler is absolutely right to call on researchers to actively participate in the public discussion of their work...
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Choice Architecture in Urban Space

Part 2 of a blog series on climate protection and structural change through participation by Katleen de Flander and Ina Richter The German Climate Action Goal for 2050 foresees an 80 to 95 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases compared to 1990. If we are to take this goal seriously, I believe there are two...
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Raw Materials in Mobile Phones: Our Work with Schools

The teachers who participate in our workshops on using mobile phones more sustainably often ask us: “How much energy is saved by recycling metals?” The answer usually surprises them: by recycling aluminium, palladium and silver, we can save over 90 per cent of the energy that would otherwise be used to extract those metals. When...
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You Are What You Breathe? Measuring Air Quality in Berlin

Berlin may not be the Netherlands, but there is definitely a fair amount of bicycling infrastructure throughout the city. And if you’re biking in Berlin you’re not alone on the road with only cars for company either. The debate about which cities are the best for biking aside, I enjoy biking, and this summer I...
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The Race against Climate Change – A Commentary on the Climate Conference in Lima

What progress was made at the Climate Conference in Lima? What further steps need to be taken on the way to Paris? Will we succeed in concluding a new climate agreement in a year’s time? How will this agreement be enforced? What about greenhouse gases and other pollutants besides CO2? And how exactly can the...
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Climate Action Programme – On the Need for ‘Structural’ Change

Part 1 of a blog series on climate protection and structural change through participation by Katleen de Flander and Ina Richter In recent weeks, the issue of climate protection has been high on the national and international political agenda. At international level, participants at the UN Climate Conference in Lima last week laid the foundations...
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Q&A: Kandeh Yumkella on Sustainable Energy and Societal Prosperity

As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy für Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), Kandeh Yumkella has taken on the mammoth task of providing everybody on the planet with access to an environmentally friendly and secure energy supply. In the course of our meeting at the IASS-SE4All Forum on the global dimension of the German energy...
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Current Environmental Strategies and Why They Don’t Work

When I give presentations about my work, I usually start with this question from the Dutch-American sociologist and economist Saskia Sassen: “Are our global ecological conditions the results of urban density and agglomeration or are they the results of the specific types of urban systems that we have developed to handle transport, waste, disposal, building,...
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More Water for the Middle East, More Energy for Europe? A Comparative Look at the Water-Energy Nexus

Access to energy and freshwater are essential requirements for any society that wants to develop and prosper. These two factors depend on each other: energy is used to produce freshwater and water is needed to produce energy. This interdependency is better known as the ‘water-energy nexus’. For example, it takes 1,000–2,600 kilowatt hours to pump...
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