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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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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Trump, International Affairs, and the Environment: Can It All Come Together?

My short-term research and lecture visit to the IASS in November and December 2016 is now over, sadly. I was invited by and cooperated with Dr Birgit Lode of the ELIAS project. I first met Birgit at a conference organized by the American Society of International Law (ASIL), of which both of us are active...
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How can we stimulate action on collective behavior change toward sustainable futures?

Insights from the First KLASICA International Case Studies Symposium in Taipei The first Knowledge, Learning, And Societal Change Alliance (KLASICA) Symposium, which took place on 21–24 November 2016, in Taipei, Taiwan was a stimulating and productive event. KLASICA is a new effort using the wide range of intellectual lenses of the natural and social sciences,...
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Kicking the Coal Habit: China & Co. Offer Lessons for Germany

Phasing out coal and oil extraction is the most difficult aspect of climate policy. While renewable energies dazzle with the promise of new markets and feed-in payments, phase outs put losers front and centre. And convincing oil and coal companies to invest in new business ventures with brighter prospects can be an onerous undertaking –...
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A Milestone for Climate Protection: Paris Agreement Enters into Force

The Paris Agreement, the new international climate treaty, enters into force today on 4 November 2016. This rapid entry into force, occurring within a year of its adoption, is unusual for an international climate treaty: to date, 97 Parties have ratified the Paris Agreement. Together they are responsible for around 70% of global greenhouse gas...
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How awesome are renewable energy auctions?

The IASS has produced what is probably the most comprehensive overview on the results of recent renewable energy auctions yet. The study, which is soon to be published in English (it’s available here in German), thus fills a crucial gap. Policymakers will want to know the findings so they can improve policy design – and...
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Those arrogant Energiewende folks

Germany’s energy transition, its Energiewende, is the backdrop for Juli Zeh’s novel Unterleuten. The title has multiple meanings. First, Unterleuten is the name of a small rural town where citizens learn one day that a wind farm is to be built in their midst. “Unter Leuten” (written apart) literally means “among the people.” And “Unterleuten”...
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Mitigating Climate Change, Brick by Brick

Nearly one year ago, in December 2015, 195 nations adopted the Paris Agreement, a global, legally binding treaty for keeping global climate change “well below 2°C”, pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C. Preparations are underway for this year’s UN Climate Conference, COP22, which will take place from 7-18 November in Marrakesh, Morocco. Thanks to...
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