Headline: RIFS Blog

The blog of the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) contains contributions from employees in all RIFS departments and covers a huge range of themes. In addition to discussing the latest research findings and events, the blog authors comment on political developments.

 

Methane: A Short-Lived Gas With Far-Reaching Effects

In March 2024, leading politicians and industry experts gathered in Geneva to tackle one of the most pressing challenges of our time: methane emissions. The participants discussed available methods to reduce methane emissions as called for under the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to cut global methane emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2020 levels. In this blog post, we take a closer look at why methane emissions matter and how they could be reduced.

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Workshop

Carbon Footprint Policies and International Equity and Cooperation

In a world connected by global supply chains, states are hesitant to pursue ambitious industrial decarbonization policies, fearing that strict regulations or high carbon prices could make industries less competitive or that consumers might switch to cheaper products from countries with lax regulation. But there is a solution: Policies that do not just target the emissions that occur within the confines of national or EU borders but that also cover emissions that have accumulated throughout supply chains. Carbon footprint policies target the upstream supply chain emissions that occur throughout the various stages of production.

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LOSLAND

Organizing Local Citizens’ Councils: Handbook Shows How It’s Done

The new handbook "Organizing municipal citizens' councils" was recently published. RIFS is co-editor of the work, together with Mehr Demokratie e.V. and the Institute for Democracy and Participation Research (IDPF) in Wuppertal. The handbook is aimed at practitioners in the field of public participation and offers valuable insights and advice on the initiation, planning and successful implementation of citizens' assemblies at the municipal level.

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Matching Facilitation Methods to Deliberative Purposes

Imagine three groups of people deliberating the same question. All three groups were recruited the same way, they are deliberating in similar rooms, and they have the same materials available. Does it actually matter how the facilitation of these deliberative processes is carried out? Dirk von Schneidemesser, Dorota Stasiak and Daniel Oppold explain why it matters, and how different facilitation styles affect deliberation.

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Communication for Transformation

What Municipalities Need to Master Conflicts

This year the German government outlined its proposals for an amendment of the Federal Climate Protection Act, setting targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2030 and to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045. Many of the measures necessary to achieve these goals – especially when it comes to infrastructure – must be implemented at the municipal level. Bringing about change in towns and communities presents significant challenges and projects frequently meet with opposition.

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Decarbonizing Industry

How Decarbonization Will Transform the Geography of Industrial Production: New Evidence on the “Renewables Pull” Hypothesis

The availability of renewable energy is an important factor for future investment decisions in the chemical and steel industry. This is a key finding of our survey of 300 decision-makers from the chemical and steel industry. 92 per cent of the respondents anticipate that their company will relocate facilities as it seeks to decarbonize production. In addition to low-cost renewable energies, the respondents identify political support as a key factor in investment location decisions.

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COP28 in Dubai: Greenwashing or Genuine Ambitions?

The agreement reached at the recent COP28 conference has been hailed as the dawn of a new era in the transition to renewable energy. The Guardian newspaper concurred, headlining its story on the final agreement: COP28 landmark deal agreed to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels. Simultaneously, critical voices from indigenous communities and environmental organizations have dismissed the event as "business as usual." The host country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), derives its prosperity mainly from fossil fuels and finite resources, and the UAE's presidency added another layer of complexity to the conference.

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Feeding the Future

The Geopolitics and Decarbonization of Fertilizer Supply Chains

In the vast arena of global commodities, fertilizers play a silent yet fundamental role. With a market value of $207 billion, they are a cornerstone of modern agriculture, silently underpinning the sustenance of 8 billion people daily. But this essential industry is at a crossroads, grappling with the enormous challenges of decarbonization, volatile geopolitics, and the imperative of food security. The RIFS research project "Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation: Implications of an International Hydrogen Economy" hosted a series of webinars on the "Geopolitics of Fertilizer Supply Chains" about the complexities of the fertilizer industry and the most urgent challenges facing this crucial sector.

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Looking Back at the First Years of the Franco-German Forum for the Future With Gilles de Margerie

Gilles de Margerie, who has led the French government’s policy analysis institute France Stratégie since 2018, has served as the French Co-Director of the Franco-German Forum for the Future since its founding in 2020. As de Margerie’s term of office as Commissioner General at France Stratégie draws to a close, his German counterpart Frank Baasner spoke with him about the Forum’s achievements.

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Organizational Transformation in the European Commission

A systemic sustainability transformation requires fundamental shifts in various areas of society. A particularly persistent need for change lies in the organisational structures of political administration and decision-making. Here, many of the prevailing structures stem from rather traditional mindsets that are ill-suited to the complex, interconnected crises and challenges facing societies today. Traditional administrative structures lack resilience and adaptability, particularly as many of the people working within these structures suffer from excessive workloads and are frustrated by what they experience as a lack of agency. This is reflected by rising rates of burnout and other poor health outcomes.

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Conference

Decarbonisation of construction and industry

“These new policies show that we don’t have to wait hands-in-pockets for carbon pricing to drive down emissions from construction products such as steel and cement”, Nino Jordan concluded at the end of the two-day conference “Carbon Footprint Policy Accelerator Conference: Learning about Buy Clean and Whole Life Carbon Regulatory Standards for Buildings” held recently in Potsdam.

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Three Challenges for the CBAM's Transitional Phase

On 1 October 2023, the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) entered into effect, beginning with a transitional phase that will run through to 2026. This provides a two-year learning phase during which stakeholders, including the European Commission, can gradually adjust to the new terms of trading established by the CBAM, a cross-border carbon pricing mechanism targeting imports of carbon-intensive products.

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