Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy
Prof. Dr. Dr. Felix Ekardt, LL.M., M.A.
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. In April 2021, we won a groundbreaking lawsuit at the German Constitutional Court. See on this here and here.
The existing legal framework on P is strongly characterized by detailed command-and-control provisions and thus suffers from governance problems such as enforcement deficits, rebound and shifting effects. Our new paper focuses on how these challenges could be addressed by economic instruments. The article highlights not only the impact of the instruments on P management, but also on adjacent environmental areas. We pay particular attention to the governance effects on reaching international binding climate and biodiv goals: here.
The production of animal food products is (besides fossil fuels) one of the most important noxae with regard to many of the environmental problems, such as climate change, biodiversity loss or globally disrupted nutrient cycles. This paper provides a qualitative governance analysis of which regulatory options there are to align livestock farming with the legally binding environmental objectives, in particular the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity: here.
Paris targets imply that not only emissions from degraded peatlands have to be avoided, but conservation and rewetting of peatlands are also necessary to figure as sinks to compensate for unavoidable residual emissions. In the absence of an easily comprehensible control variable (such as fossil fuels), economic instruments reach their limits. This is remarkable in so far as economic instruments can otherwise handle governance problems and react to various behavioral motivational factors very well. Still, peatlands can be subject to certain regulations and prohibitions under command-and-control law even without precise knowledge of the emissions from peatland use: here.
From spring 2019 Felix Ekardt is 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 has been published now and provides an overview of the work of the FNK with completely new perspectives in sustainability research - and can be read with Springer Link: here.
For a long time, the Research Unit offers work on sustainability governance on European and national level, mostly in developing policy instruments which are able to replace those currently in place that are weak in ambition and implantation and are not fit to avoid rebound and shifting effects. Instruments which regulate quantity and price and their interaction with other policies play a special role. Besides issues of land use, the Research Unit mainly works in the field of energy and climate. This is represented in the large number of publications and lectures as well as several big third-party funded projects like on the future development on climate policy, on the renewable energy law and energy frugality.
Contrary to common perception, both Germany and Europe as a whole are far from reaching their climate targets. Inconvenient truths such as the necessity to continuously increase costs of fossil fuels are not discussed. We analyze the issue how societies and individuals change and are thus able to contribute to a real and global energy transition, even though desires of daily life are often in contradiction. We explain why German and European leadership (even in an economic sense) is crucial and why new lifestyles are not a restriction but a necessary element of freedom and social justice. In spring 2016, the third edition of “Theorie der Nachhaltigkeit“ (Theory on sustainability”) by Felix Ekardt is published. It presents a unique, broad approach on the basics of justice and sustainability, on human rights theory, on the causes for lacking sustainability and on an effective climate and resource policy. It is a new edition of his habilitation monography (partially more current than the downloads below). A shorter English version was published with Springer Nature in 2019: Sustainability: Transformation, Governance, Ethics, Law.
Further downloadable texts in English: