Recent Publications and Speeches

News

Phosphorus, Scarcity of Natural Resources, and the Law

During the last years, the Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy has done a lot of research on questions of phosphorus and scarcity of natural resources, as well as on land-use and climate change - from a transdisciplinary point of view. See, among other papers, Economic Instruments for P, N, Climate, Biodiv.

Felix Ekardt on various international conferences

Since 2007, Felix Ekardt has given speeches and presentations on some 60 international conferences on questions of sustainability, climate change, justice, human rights, phosphorus scarcity, land-use, etc. For details and also for forthcoming speeches, see the list of presentations.

Universalism and Discourse Ethics

The Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy has done a lot of research on the normative grounds of sustainability - respectively on the theoretical basis of both ethics and law. The most informative is the big German volume "Theorie der Nachhaltigkeit", but there is also a number of English papers. See, among other papers, here.

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Land-Use/Bioenergy

For a couple of years, the Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy is working on questions of biodiversity and land use, e.g. with regard to climate change, bioenergy, resource scarcity, and phosphorus. We show that environmental policy will have to switch to a new strategy: “Technical solutions”, “efficiency” and “command and control” alone will not solve resource problems or quantity problems if at the same time (global) production increases or remains at a constant high level. There are issues of rebound effects and sectoral and regional shifting effects, weak targets and/ or execution etc. Instead, concepts for quantity management need to be developed. In 2015, several projects on phosphorus started.

Recently, climate policy is strongly connected to an extended use of biomass for producing electricity, heat, and fuel. Since 2007, the Research Unit is concerned with energetic use of biomass. There are both a number of socio-economic advantages and disadvantages, which are frequently not sufficiently addressed by European and German regulation. Lists of sustainability criteria are by structure only partially closing the regulation gap. They do not reflect the necessary complexity, do not avoid shifting effects, and cannot describe some central aspects (e. g. the world sustenance problem). Moreover, there exists a serious problem of enforcement. Instead, a radical policy shift to energy efficiency would, strict greenhouse gas caps prove a lot more effective in overcoming these ambivalences of the use of bioenergy. Effective in terms of use of bioenergy would be generally stricter reduction targets on greenhouse gases and a global quantity management through a price on carbon. This would result in lowering the overall consumption and thus make socio-ecological issues more manageable.

2010, we published a book on the matter, portraying new findings of the working group. The example of land use as the second crucial aspect for climate change, displays clearly the limits of climate policy and emissions trading in particular. Climate protection policy and emissions trading will not lead to climate protection unless it is provided with ambitious targets, strict enforcement, prevention of rebound and shifting effects, cumulating problems as well as a solution for ascertainability and baselines and global participation of all states and distributive questions. Even so the current emissions trading system is deeply flawed, the concept in general is preferable to efficiency-based, technical and regulatory law approaches. This is because they are not capable of solving quantity problems. The above mentioned publication addressed these questions and those regarding bio energy, the WTO and human rights.

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