Poking holes in our mindsets: impressions from the Potsdam Summer School 2017

As an unprecedented weather event unfolded last week across the Atlantic Ocean, affecting Gulf Coast states and major cities in the United States as well as island communities throughout the Caribbean, over 40 young professionals and graduate students from over 30 countries gathered at the IASS to discuss “Human Environments in a Changing World” –...
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Stop the blame game: Russia is waking up to climate change

During my last visit to Russia I was watching Russian TV – an awful source of propaganda and misinformation, according to many. To my surprise, one of the federal (i.e. government-controlled) channels was reporting about climate change in a primetime slot. To my further surprise, the program didn’t rehash the usual conspiracy theories about what...
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No More Perks for Diesel

To improve air quality in the long term diesel vehicles must be subject to the same emissions standards as other vehicles and the tax advantages that diesel enjoys must be abolished. At the recent ‘Diesel Summit’ in Berlin, politicians, car manufacturers and others met to discuss possible ways out of the current diesel mess. The...
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Renewable Energy in Africa: China is Indispensable

Without China, little can change in Africa. This is why Germany should work closely with Beijing on the issue of investments in climate-friendly infrastructure in Africa. Following the USA’s announcement of its withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, the international community is facing the first serious crisis of global climate policy since the breakthrough in...
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What does it take to forge a partnership with Africa?

Initiating a new partnership with Africa was a key priority of the German G20 Presidency and one of the topics on the agenda at the G20 Summit in Hamburg last weekend. In their Leaders’ Declaration, the heads of the 19 major industrialized and emerging market economies and the EU underscored their commitment to “foster sustainable...
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Can Russia imagine a post-fossil fuel future?

No post-fossil future is imagined for Russia, least of all by the Russians. The kleptocrats flee the country and stash their bounty in safe havens, countries with confidential banking, enough rule of law to avoid the confiscation of their spoils, and pliable politicians to provide protection. The export of capital and the purchase of expensive...
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Climate Policy under Donald Trump: What is to Become of America’s Energy Transition?

Clean energy was a key climate policy instrument during the Obama presidency. Obama also understood the promotion of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and comparatively low-emission natural gas as a driver of economic growth (Obama, 2017). Donald Trump has set out his energy policy in the America First Energy Plan – a strategy paper that stretches...
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How Long Is Now? Reflections on Berlin, Deep Time and Planetary Futures

Walking westwards along Oranienburger Strasse in Berlin-Mitte, the building-high mural How Long Is Now dominates the horizon, eclipsing nearby landmarks. It is, as I learned, a now legendary artwork adorning the derelict art centre Kunsthaus Tacheles (‘straight talking’ in Yiddish). The building embodies what is true for the city as a whole, at least as...
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Strengthening the G20 sustainable energy agenda – the way forward

The 2017 G20 summit takes place in the country that has won international recognition for its “Energiewende” – a fundamental transformation of its energy system. This provides an important window of opportunity for strengthening the G20 agenda on sustainable energy. The world’s overall energy supply is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, which undermines climate...
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Donald Trump and the Future of Climate Protection

On 20 January 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the forty-fifth president of the United States. His previous announcements on energy policy mark a clear departure from the climate policy ambitions of his predecessor, Barack Obama. But what exactly should we expect from Trump’s climate and energy policies? Will he really be able to...
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