20 years after the Kyoto Protocol: Are we ‘on track’ with the Paris Agreement and the COP23?

Foto oben: Auckland, 28. November 2015: Tausende Menschen demonstrierten in Neuseeland für den Klimaschutz. © istock/chameleonseye

On 11 December 1997, the world’s first internationally binding climate agreement was adopted: the Kyoto Protocol. It obligated 37 industrialized countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions individually. On average, the much celebrated agreement required a roughly 5 percent emissions reduction for industrialized countries relative to 1990. Germany even agreed to a target of 21...
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The Role of Germany in the Future of Renewable Energies

Germany is widely regarded as an international frontrunner in the global energy transition. Efforts to promote renewable energy have played a key role in lowering the cost of wind and solar power and contributed significantly to the growth of these technologies around the world. Germany’s energy transition policy is held up as a model abroad...
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Building transatlantic common ground in combating global warming

As the world gathered in Bonn for its twenty-third Conference of the Parties (COP23), the newly published Emissions Gap Report 2017 by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) helped to underline the mantra of the conference: all countries need to raise their climate protection efforts quickly and substantially. The report shows that even if fully...
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Environmental Sustainability: A Bhutanese Expression

Haa Valley, Bhutan: A farmer walks down a rural pathway carrying a load of rice stalks. He wears a gho, the traditional men's garment. © istock/leezsnow

As a child, I lived near the forests and walked everywhere on foot because we did not have motorable roads, nor could my parents afford to buy a family car. If I were to narrate this story to sociologists or media reporters, then I would feel that I was exposing my limited wealth compared with...
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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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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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Stop shaming geo-engineering researchers!

Environmentalists are often critical of technological fixes to problems caused by technology. But when it comes to geo-engineering, a clear distinction needs to be made between the message and the messenger. Let’s say you don’t exercise enough, eat too much snack food, and get drunk too often. Then your doctor tells you he’s putting you...
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