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.
It is key challenge of the 21st century to achieve a way of life and economy which is sustainable in the long-term and globally. Sustainability has not yet been implemented sufficiently in crucial issues such as energy, climate, resources or eco systems. The Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy is based in Leipzig and Berlin and works on projects for public and non-profit clients (including legal assessment) and does intensive basic research on sustainability, which is reflected in numerous publications. Equally important roles are assumed by policy consulting outside of specific projects, many lectures and presentations (partially at universities), as well as media work. Prof. Dr. Dr. Felix Ekardt, LL.M., M.A. is founder and director of the Research Unit. He is external Professor for public law and legal philosophy at Rostock University. Issues of the Research Unit are transformation, governance, ethics, and law. This means in detail:
The Research Unit sends out a newsletter with our recent projects, articles, lectures and conferences around 5-6 times a year in German. An English version is sent out approximately once a year to colleagues. Follow Felix Ekardt on Twitter and Facebook to see his comments in interesting recent developments. In the German media, we publish statements to our work some 40 times per year (see German version of this website). Our privacy statement can be found here
The Research Unit gives presentations on a number of international and interdisciplinary conferences and events. It also organizes frequently public events, among others on energy law and energy politics in Berlin twice a year with a partner law firm specialized in energy law.
Main concern is for us to develop surprising, transdisciplinary, high quality, independent and at times quite uncomfortable analysis and approaches for solutions that go beyond common patterns. In order to preserve scientific independence, we draw a line between us and other (oftentimes originally alternative thinking) institutes, which have acquired a far-reaching dependency on governments and corporations due to their cost structures. They are therefore committed to mainstream concepts and euphemistic perspectives, which will not entirely meet the requirements of a serious sustainability. The perspective of sustainability human science is essential to us, for example the connection between analysis of climate policy instruments and theories of justice based on human rights and ethics. And also the relation to sociological and economic – sometimes even approaches from history or religious science. We are particularly interested in complex interdisciplinary approaches, which help to explain why so far the idea of sustainability has not been sufficiently implemented – and help to provide concepts solving those deficiencies. Sometimes, we criticize common fundamental assumptions in environmental ethics, environmental sociology and environmental economics; we are also involved in the degrowth debate. All of this can be found especially in Sustainability: Transformation, Governance, Ethics, Law - the opus magnum of Felix Ekardt (its short version in English, respectively).
Felix Ekardt and the majority of members of the Research Unit are also involved with the faculty of law, with the interdisciplinary faculty, of agriculture and environment or the Science Campus Phosphorus Research of Rostock University. Furthermore, Felix Ekardt was up to fall 2015 long-term fellow at Research Institute for Philosophy Hanover (FIPH). The Research Unit maintains a co-operation with the law firm von Bredow Valentin Herz, among others by using the same venue and jointly organizing our Berlin Conferences on Energy. The Research Unit works in co-operation with several public institutions, universities, foundations, NGOs nationally and internationally from different backgrounds to produce studies, conferences, presentations, publications etc. The following pages reflect on some of these. A new book series with Springer Nature on Environmental Humanities: Transformation, Governance, Ethics, Law has started in 2019.