Opened by Minister Axel Vogel, the fourth plenary session of Brandenburg's Sustainability Platform cast a spotlight on climate action in the state of Brandenburg. The platform, which was established five years ago, promotes sustainable development, supports efforts to achieve climate neutrality in Brandenburg, and fosters networking between diverse actors and initiatives. The platform is coordinated by the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) and funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Protection (MLUK).
Local and regional actors play a key role in sustainable development in Brandenburg. Bringing them together to support joint action is a core focus of the Platform for Sustainability in Brandenburg. Members gathered on 8 December for the platform’s annual conference drew a positive balance and acknowledged the platform’s role in developing potential solutions and mobilizing society. The platform called on government to step up the pace of change for sustainability.
Publics in Germany and Australia are broadly supportive of efforts to decarbonise energy systems. However, opposition to the rollout of renewables is growing. In a new study, researchers show that community participation plays a key role in building acceptance for energy transition policies. The governments of both countries are pursuing different strategies to foster public acceptance of various measures.
How can courses at vocational schools encourage their students to work for climate mitigation despite the impeding economic change? Based on workshops with trainees in the German coal-mining region of Lusatia, a team from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) offers some guidelines on how to include civics and education for sustainable development in lesson plans.
Although structural transformations of the kind unfolding in Lusatia affect everyone, young people are rarely involved in decision-making processes. And yet everyone should have a say in shaping the future! The research project "Social Transformation and Policy Advice in Lusatia" at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) has developed a simulation game for six to 30 players in cooperation with game developers "Playing History". The game, which is suitable for younger audiences, was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
In recent years, the rights of children and youth to participate in political processes have been expanded. But there are still deficits when it comes to putting these rights into practice. In a new publication, IASS researchers make recommendations on how to successfully engage young people in processes of structural change.
Sustainability policy in Germany currently falls short of what is needed, despite ambitious rhetoric. In a study, IASS researchers show that the established way of mediating interests between politics, industry and trade unions stands in the way of a more ambitious agenda. For a successful transition, policymakers must remould the relationship between capitalism, democracy, and sustainability.
Profound structural transformations are unfolding in Lusatia and many other regions of Europe as part of a broader shift towards sustainable development. Various European funding programmes,including programmes under the European Green Deal and national support schemes, have been adopted to cushion the impacts of the reduction and phase-out of coal-fired power generation.
Climate action, environmentally-friendly mobility systems and the decarbonisation of the economy are important elements of sustainable development. At its fourth meeting, held on 24 January 2022, the Sustainability Advisory Council of the State of Brandenburg discussed these topics with representatives from the Youth Forum for Sustainability (Jugendforum Nachhaltigkeit).
The German government has pledged to facilitate a just transition in the former coal region of Lusatia. What exactly does that mean on the ground? A new paper published in the Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning by Konrad Gürtler (IASS) und Jeremias Herberg (Radboud Universität) examines the tensions between distributive justice and recognition in the context of public debate around the structural transformation in Lusatia.
Germany’s coal exit is associated with widespread and far-reaching structural change in the mining region of Lusatia. Decisions made today will shape the region for decades to come. Enhancing Lusatia’s appeal for young people is one important goal within this broad transformation process. A new IASS Policy Brief offers recommendations on how policymakers can involve young people in shaping the future of Lusatia.
How do trainees at the energy company LEAG view the structural transformation unfolding in Lusatia? What life paths and plans are they pursuing? Do they see their future in the region or further afield? What factors shape their thinking? And what kind of employment opportunities do they hope to see in the region? In a series of workshops, the trainees discussed these questions and developed a quantitative survey together with a team of researchers from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS). The results of the survey have now been published in the study “Auszubildende im Lausitzer Strukturwandel” [Trainees in Lusatia’s Structural Transformation].
What does it feel like when science and society begin a dialogue with one another? This is the question taken up by the new podcast "hör mal : Lausitz" (English: listen in : lusatia), which follows the trail of transdisciplinary cooperation in the transformations taking place in the Eastern German lignite-mining region.
Ending our dependence on coal is essential for effective climate protection. Nevertheless, efforts to phase out coal trigger anxiety and resistance, particularly in mining regions. The governments of both Canada and Germany have involved various stakeholders to develop recommendations aimed at delivering just transitions and guiding structural change. In a new study, researchers at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) compare the stakeholder commissions convened by the two countries, drawing on expert interviews with their members, and examine how governments use commissions to legitimize their transition policies.
How can school pupils get to grips with the transformation processes underway in the former coal-mining region of Lusatia and take an active role in shaping change? In a new study, IASS researchers show how teachers can engage with these issues in and outside their classrooms. The aim is not only to stimulate discussions, but also to empower young people to participate in the transformation process.
Societal transformations are often driven by the findings of science. The edited volume "Wissenschaft im Strukturwandel" shows how the interactions between science and society are changing research practice.
Can expert commissions develop solutions for controversial issues that will enjoy broad democratic support? A team of researchers from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) has analysed the work of Germany’s “Coal Exit Commission” using a set of new criteria. While the authors view positively the Commission’s success in reaching a compromise, they criticise its failure to deliver an outcome that promotes the common good, particularly with respect to the high cost of the coal exit and its unambitious contribution towards Germany’s climate goals, as well as the lack of public participation.
Lusatia needs to tackle a double challenge in the coming decades: the loss of a major industry with the planned coal exit and the unabated radicalisation of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the region. In a new publication, IASS researcher Tobias Haas discusses the economic, political and cultural reasons for the rise of authoritarian populism in Lusatia, while also identifying pathways towards a progressive renewal.
Transformations towards sustainability need change at all levels. It takes people who have the courage to embrace goals and are empowered to pursue them. We need pioneers and projects that show that sustainable change and lifestyles are possible. And we need targets and incentives to help ensure that transformations are broad-based and lasting. One aspect that is rarely considered is the role that regions play in sustainability transformations. This was the focus of the workshop "Transformations towards sustainability at the regional level" on 25.11.2022 at the IASS in Potsdam.
The BMBF-funded accompanying research project "Social Transformation and Policy Advice in Lusatia" at the IASS is coming to an end after almost four years. In seven theses, we spotlight some of the findings from our research in this stormy field.
The long-running dispute before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) between Poland and the Czech Republic over the Turów open-pit coal mine on the Polish side of the border came to an end two weeks ago. Under the agreement reached by the two countries, the Czech Republic is to be compensated for environmental harms caused by the mine’s operation. In response, the Czech government withdrew its complaint to the CJEU on 3 February.
Without a doubt, the COP26’s coal commitment was a major disappointment. The “phase-out” was made a “phase-down”, which is salt in the eyes of many given the massive consequences global warming is already having. However, and many commentators agree on this (Abnett and Volcovici 2021, Jotzo 2021), the resolution does send a clear signal. The writing is on the wall – a new narrative has begun that foresees an end to coal in the medium to long term.
We are happy to announce the adoption of the institute’s inaugural focal topic. Throughout 2022 we will undertake collaborative research activities, hold public events, and publish research exploring themes related to matters of social justice.
How do you get a feel for a place? I have to be there in person. I feel the ground, taste the air, dip my fingertips in the water; I let the sounds weave its stories me. Since April, I've been working on an artistic project about the region of Lusatia. The region has long captivated my imagination, since learning about its cross-border identity and the history of the Sorbs in Lusatia, pre-dating current nation states.
With the Structural Adjustment Act, the German government intends to provide 40 billion euros of federal funding for the coal-mining areas of Germany. In addition, an emergency fund of 260 million euros is earmarked for short-term projects. However, the effect of these funds will remain modest if the federal and state governments do not go further than previously planned in implementing the costly coal exit. They risk losing sight of three essential goals: enabling sustainability, strengthening regional activity, and learning to shape transformation.
Roll up your sleeves, seize every opportunity and take the future by the horns! Surely that is the best way to approach the transformation of the economy in the region of Lusatia? Played up by policymakers, this upbeat narrative is indeed vital to the success of what is a mammoth undertaking. But so too are the experiences of people and institutions across the region. As scientists working in the field of sustainable development, we must consider the broader social context of efforts to foster a less-resource intensive economy and way of life in Lusatia.
No post-fossil future is imagined for Russia, least of all by the Russians. The kleptocrats flee the country and stash their bounty in safe havens, countries with confidential banking, enough rule of law to avoid the confiscation of their spoils, and pliable politicians to provide protection. The export of capital and the purchase of expensive houses and other assets outside Russia reveal that large parts of its ‘economic elite’ do not think they will stay in power for long.
The economic era of fossil energy will end, and petro-states will decline with it.