Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy
Prof. Dr. Felix Ekardt, LL.M., M.A.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.