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Headline: Press releases

Education for sustainable development in the structural change of Lusatia

May 18, 2021 How can schoolchildren understand the structural change in Lusatia and even get actively involved? In a study, IASS researchers show how teachers can make changes in the lignite region a subject of instruction. The aim is not only to stimulate discussions, but also to enable young people to participate in shaping the structural change.

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How committed science helps shape structural change

May 7th, 2021 Social changes are often fed by scientific knowledge. The anthology “Science in Structural Change” shows how the mutual interdependence of science and society is also changing research practice.

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Wissenschaftsrat examines IASS: orientation and approach are convincing

26.04.2021 The Science Council presented and published the results of the evaluation of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam. In its report, the Science Council states that the orientation and approach of the institute are of great scientific and socio-political importance and are unique in the research landscape in Germany. The IASS has developed a convincing profile for knowledge-based political and social advice.

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Improved ozone values ​​thanks to lower nitrogen oxide emissions

26.04.2021 Summer is ozone season: when it is sunny and hot, the harmful gas is increasingly formed near the ground. In recent years, however, the ozone content in the air in Germany has increased less than before at warm temperatures. According to a new study, the main reason for this is a decrease in nitrogen oxide emissions. Positive developments can be observed above all in southwest Germany, while Berlin lags behind.

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Opportunities and risks of digitization for sustainable development

07.04.2021 Digitization can support the transition to more sustainability if sustainability criteria are consciously built into the design from the outset. This requires a systemic risk-benefit perspective based on the three sustainability dimensions: ecology, economy and social issues. This is the conclusion of the team of authors of a study at the Institute for Transformative Sustainability Research (IASS). Such a precautionary design of digitization requires the active involvement of developers, users and regulators.

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Pandemic exacerbates problems in the international energy transition

23.03.2021 The Covid 19 crisis is widening the gap between pioneers and laggards of the energy transition. In a new publication, IASS scientists provide an overview of the global effects of the pandemic on the energy sector. Their results show that middle- and low-income countries need more support in phasing out fossil fuels.

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Safety first: What we can learn from Copenhagen for the transport transition

11.03.2021 Those who want the traffic turnaround would do well to learn from successful role models - for example from Copenhagen, one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. Which discourses contributed to the fact that Copenhagen became the bicycle city it is today? IASS scientist Theresa Kallenbach examined the reporting in Danish daily newspapers and found that road safety was at the center of the discourse, environmental protection played no role.

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Deep-sea mining must benefit all of humanity

18.02.2021 While investors are interested in the natural resources of the deep-sea floor, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) is developing regulations to regulate their future exploration and mining of natural resources. A policy brief from the Institute for Transformative Sustainability Research (IASS), which was created in cooperation with the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), presents three recommendations for deep-sea mining to benefit all of humanity.

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Insights from complexity science: Put more trust in self-organization

February 16, 2021: Globalization, digitization, sustainability - these global mega-transformations are causing extensive upheavals. This gives rise to new currents such as populist movements that endanger security and question democratic values. Which rules and institutions can have a stabilizing effect on such systemic risks? An IASS study provides surprising answers.

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Lausitz: The change comes from the people

February 15, 2021: For many, the "coal exit" is now linked to a region east of Berlin: Lusatia. However, anyone who has never been there can seldom understand the regional situation. The book "We're doing it already" from the is all the more helpful Ch. Links Verlag: From the excavator driver to the mayor to the food blogger - 15 personalities present this region as a team of authors and show what is possible in the region where "coal" is no longer the measure of all things.

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Recommendation for regional action against plastic pollution of the seas

10.2.2021 Many millions of tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean every year. A team from the Institute for Transformative Sustainability Research (IASS) has examined the role marine regions play in the fight against pollution, the challenges they face - and why these need to be further strengthened while a new global agreement is being negotiated.

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Visionary scientist and supporter of the IASS: Prof. Dr. Paul Crutzen

01.02 2021. Paul Jozef Crutzen was a visionary scientist and an important pillar in building the IASS. It is with great sadness that we note that he passed away on January 28th, 2021 at the age of 87.

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CO2 pricing alone hardly drives technological change

18.01.2021 In order to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, the international community must operate in a climate-neutral manner by 2050. Many governments and experts consider CO2 pricing to be the most important instrument in climate policy - Germany, too, has just introduced it for transport and heating. However, a study shows that their steering effect is not as strong as hoped.

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Green electricity subsidies: European countries should coordinate reforms

15.12.2020 The European Union has just agreed on stricter climate targets up to 2030, now it is time to implement them. What do the federal states have to consider? A study shows how important it is for them to coordinate their reforms in promoting renewable energies. Otherwise, many investors would relocate their activities - to technologies that are still subsidized or to countries where funding is still available. This would increase the total costs of expanding renewables.

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Patrizia Nanz takes office as Vice President of the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE)

02.12.2020 Patrizia Nanz, Scientific Director at the IASS, will leave the institute on January 31, 2021 and move to the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management as Vice President.

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Hydrogen-powered heavy-duty vehicles could make a significant contribution to climate goals

01.12.2020 In order to achieve the national climate targets, a partial conversion of German road traffic to hydrogen is being discussed. A team from the Institute for Transformative Sustainability Research (IASS) examined the hypothetical switch to hydrogen propulsion using several scenarios. The bottom line: hydrogen-powered mobility could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and significantly improve air quality - this would be a change that would have a major impact, especially for heavy commercial vehicles.

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Structural change: Increase the involvement of the young Lusatian population

30.10.2020 There is a lot of talk about structural change. But how are those who are in the midst of structural change? Young people who are in training and want to stay are particularly affected by the coal phase-out in Lusatia. A team from the Institute for Transformative Sustainability Research (IASS) carried out a series of workshops with trainees in cooperation with the training management of the lignite accelerator company LEAG. This resulted in recommendations for actors from politics, business and education.

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Microcredits for clean energy: the start-up founder is Klaus Töpfer Sustainability Fellow 2020

29.10.2020 Microloans are an important means of promoting the expansion of modern energy supplies in developing countries. The engineer Natalia Realpe Carrillo and her start-up HEDERA Sustainable Solutions GmbH have developed a digital tool kit with which microfinance institutions can better understand the sustainability effects of their investments in clean energy. As a Klaus Töpfer Sustainability Fellow, she will work at the IASS from November 1st to improve and expand this offer.

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From green to liberal: parties agree on the goal, but without a master plan for the future electricity system

19.10.2020 Which parties have the most ambitious climate and energy policies? A new study gives a surprising answer: In Germany, France, Spain and Italy, the goals across the political spectrum from green to economically liberal are characterized by similar ambitions. However, the researchers also found a serious shortcoming that is slowing the energy transition: none of the parties examined has a convincing concept for a technology mix that guarantees grid stability in the event of weather-related fluctuations in wind and solar energy.

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The soft power concept of German foreign energy policy

19.10.2020 As a globally networked state, Germany wants to push the energy transition through international energy partnerships. A study by the Institute for Transformative Sustainability Research (IASS) has analyzed these bilateral energy partnerships. Based on the reputation of being a pioneer in the energy transition, the Federal Republic of Germany is pursuing a soft power strategy in order to gain imitators of its own energy policy approach abroad. According to the analysis, Germany’s bilateral energy partnerships are the central policy instrument.

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Rethinking urban space: Temporary conversion of a Berlin intersection

02.10.2020 Public space is scarce, especially in cities. With the turnaround in traffic, the distribution of public space can be rethought. What options and ideas are there for a redistribution? What wishes do people in urban areas have in relation to their surroundings? For example, how would they redesign their direct public environment if they were allowed to? The Institute for Transformative Sustainability Research (IASS), the TU Berlin and the DLR Institute for Transport Research would like to find answers to these and other questions as part of the EXPERI research group with a real experiment in Berlin.

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Sustainability platform as the “voice” of civil society

21.09.2020 “The Brandenburg Sustainability Platform is an important element in involving civil society in the social change towards a more sustainable Brandenburg,” said Agriculture Minister Axel Vogel at the closing event of the first phase of this network. The four working groups of the sustainability platform presented their work and the first results of the past eight months at the meeting in Potsdam.

Press release (as an article)

Automotive industry: Big data can support environmental management

11.09.2020 In the age of digitization and the climate crisis, sustainable action is becoming more and more important for companies. In a study, researchers have now examined the potential of data analysis for environmental management in the automotive industry. To do this, they conducted interviews with sustainability managers and had their main statements assessed by data analysis experts. The result: There are interesting ways in which big data can support the environmental management of companies. So far, however, this potential has hardly been used.

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"Better to invest in the future than to rely on reshoring"

10.09.2020 The economic crash of COVID-19 threatens international trade networks and thus clean energy products. Prof. Andreas Goldthau on the danger this poses for the climate and which measures would now be sensible.

interview (as items) (as PDF)

Climate engineering: Forecasts from climate models are often too one-sided

07.09.2020 Climate change is becoming more and more important for politics and the public. However, many ambitious climate plans rely on targeted interventions in the climate, the risks of which are poorly understood. In a new publication, IASS researchers describe how climate models tend towards “best-case scenarios”. They warn that a distorted perception of the opportunities offered by climate engineering technologies could increase the inertia of politics and industry when it comes to climate protection. To counteract this trend, they recommend greater involvement of interest groups and clearer communication of the requirements and limits of climate models.

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The way to the global sustainability report

02.09.2020 For customers, investors and consumers, it can make a difference whether a company operates sustainably and adheres to ethical and ecological standards. In order for companies to be able to prove this in a credible and controllable manner, standardized and verifiable reports are required. Such reporting standards should map company contributions to sustainable development in a comparable way and be universally applicable to companies of all sizes and types.

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Car-free Friedrichstrasse: IASS evaluates the consequences for air quality

26.08.2020 The Berlin Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection closes Friedrichstrasse to car traffic for five months. The street section will be a promenade from August 29th. An increase in pedestrian and bicycle traffic is expected. At the same time, it will be examined, among other things, how the air quality changes due to the closure. The IASS helps with measuring and evaluating the effects on pollution.

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More citizen power for the future in the districts

17.08.2020  In July 2020, the Bundestag and Council passed the laws to phase out coal by 2038 and to strengthen the regional economy. How can two regions that have been particularly hard hit by the coal phase-out - Lusatia and the Rhenish Revier - implement structural change democratically, ecologically and socially? The IASS Potsdam and the Institute for Cultural Studies in Essen put forward joint recommendations on this.

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Green electricity for Europe: even small-scale solutions are affordable

14.08.2020 Europe is to become a climate neutral continent by 2050. For this, the electricity must largely come from renewable energies. The implementation of the energy transition is controversial: The cheapest solution is to concentrate energy generation in the most suitable locations on the continent, although many citizens favor smaller supply networks. According to a study by scientists from Potsdam and Zurich, this is possible for a manageable additional cost.

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Renewables in Europe: space requirements can be reduced with little additional cost

07.08.2020 Away from coal, oil and gas, towards wind and solar energy: This is feasible, but renewable energies require more space than conventional forms of energy. A new study examines how the space requirements of a fully renewable electricity system in Europe can be reduced and how this affects the costs.

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Impact of the pandemic on global energy policy

30.06.2020 The Covid-19 outbreak is leading to an economic recession that may be more severe than it was after the 2008 financial crisis. This is accompanied by a global decline in energy demand.How the pandemic will affect the global energy sector, whether political decisions during the crisis will accelerate the change in energy systems or whether fossil fuels will continue to be used was examined for a current study by the IASS.

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Civil society: hopeful in structural change?

23.06.2020 In less than two decades, lignite mining in Lusatia is supposed to be finally over. This means another structural change for the region, which lost most of its industries after German reunification. How will structural change affect civil society structures? Is civil society at risk or can it strengthen its positions and contribute to the success of structural change?

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Pop-up bike paths bring a sense of security

03.06.2020 The Covid-19 pandemic has influenced mobility behavior. In response to this, so-called pop-up cycle paths are being created in Berlin, which, with provisional means, enable safe cycling and the necessary distance. What reactions do these pop-up cycle paths evoke from road users? The first and preliminary answers to this question are provided by the results of a non-representative online survey among 1,661 Berliners by scientists from the IASS-Potsdam and the TU Berlin.

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Better prepared for future crises: Recommendations from risk research

29.05.2020 While there were early warnings of an exponentially growing pandemic, most policymakers around the world seemed unprepared and hesitant as Covid-19 spread from China around the world. The crisis has now resulted in unprecedented restrictions and triggered the worst recession since World War II. In an article in the “Journal of Risk Research”, Aengus Collins, Marie-Valentine Florin (both EPFL International Risk Governance Center) and IASS Director Ortwin Renn analyze the key factors and make recommendations on how we can better prepare for future crises.

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Brazil: risk of new pandemics from Covid-19?

27.05.2020 Brazil is one of the hot spots of the corona pandemic. The Brazilian Amazon is particularly hard hit. IASS fellow Artur Sgambatti Monteiro and Lucas Lima dos Santos outlines the effects of the pandemic in a new “discussion paper”: Health care in cities in the Amazon region is insufficient. Indigenous ethnic groups are also at great risk because the pandemic is making the illegal clearing of huge forest areas easier. The associated penetration into previously untouched areas could lead to new transmissible zoonoses, the authors conclude.

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The neglected heating sector

Comparative study on the strategy of reducing emissions when heating buildings in Germany and Great Britain

18.05.2020 Thermal energy accounts for more than 50 percent of the final energy consumption. Reducing emissions when heating buildings would therefore have a great leverage effect on the climate. What strategies are Germany and Great Britain pursuing to leverage this great potential? A study by scientists from the Institute for Transformative Sustainability Research (IASS) shows that both countries should do much more to effectively contain climate change in the heating sector.

Press release (as article) (PDF)

Scenarios for the global monetary system of the future: What impact does Covid-19 have on the global economic order?