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.
Problems of sustainability in energy, climate and resource scarcity or land use raise questions of social change, political and legal instruments and improved technologies. However, they also trigger questions on ethic and legal requirements. Are we allowed to “not care” about future generations and continue to foster climate change in view of human rights? For many years, these questions are addressed by the Research Unit, namely by Felix Ekardt. 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 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. On the occasion of the Paris climate negotiations, we have furthermore shown and calculated in detail how much emission reductions and financing would have been needed, portraying the example of Germany. The results present a stark contrast to what has really been discussed by now. On all of these questions, see in detail Sustainability: Transformation, Governance, Ethics, Law with Springer Nature by Felix Ekardt. In our trial before the German Constitutional Court on climate change, we received a groundbreaking verdict.