Recent Publications and Speeches


Paris Agreement, unambitious climate protection, precautionary principle, and human rights

Missing German and EU climate targets is not embarrassing - it is contrary to international and human rights. Even the unambitious targets themselves are illegal; all the more so their misconduct. More on this in our new legal opinion on the Paris Agreement here.

New Springer Nature Book Series: Environmental Humanities

From autumn 2018 Felix Ekardt will be the editor of Springer Nature's new book series "Environmental Humanities: Transformation, Governance, Ethics, Law". It is open to the entire social sciences, i.e. economics, philosophy, sociology, political science, ethnology, etc. Volume 1 "Sustainability: Transformation, Governance, Ethics, Law" by Felix Ekardt will be published soon and provides an overview of the work of the FNK with completely new perspectives in sustainability research: here.

Sustainable Land Use, Soil Protection and Phosphorus Management from a Cross-National Perspective

The scarcity of phosphorus (P) is a global concern that is not restricted to western industrialized nations. Based on several third-party funded projects, the industrialized nation of Germany, the emerging economy of Costa Rica, and the developing country of Nicaragua are examined in our new article in SUSTAINABILITY with regard to their legislation in the field of environmental protection and agriculture, in particular with regard to soil protection and fertilizer law. It becomes clear that soil protection in all three countries has not yet been adequately standardised in law and at the same time the efficient use of organic or recycled P fertilizers instead of (finite) mineral P fertilizers is inadequately regulated. here.

Felix Ekardt on "Growth - A Hard Habit to Break

A contribution in the Global Compact International Yearbook deals with fundamental issues of the sustainability debate: the limits to green growth and technological innovations, the preconditions of societal transformation towards sustainability, the complexity of human motivation, the underrated ambitiousness of the long-term goal in the Paris Climate Agreement. See, among other papers, here.

Universalism, Discourse Ethics, and Objectivity of Norms

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, Biodiversity, Phosphorus

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 governance need to be developed. Since 2015, several projects on land-use and phosphorus started. Some articles on that can be found below.

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.

Since 2015, the Research Unit has published two broad analyses on economic evaluation and economic instruments with regard to biodiversity protection. They offer new perspectives on these issues that should be distinguished, although they are typically combined in economic literature. The basis of the first study is a project for the German Federal Parliament. Another project for the German government displays a kind of summary of our works on that in English: hier.

Since 2010, we published also some texts on land-use, agriculture and climate governance. The example of land use as the second crucial aspect for climate change, displays clearly the limits of climate policy and cap-and-trade approaches regarding fossil fuels and livestock farming in particular, addressing core challenges of human motivation and also central sustainability governance problems such as shifting effects and rebound effects. Some texts on that can be found below.

Downloadable texts: