The team of instructors, researchers and students at the Environmental and Climate Policy Chair address a variety of issues linking technology, society, policy, energy and the environment. We are interested in understanding both the causes of environmental degradation and technological and social solutions to addressing them. We do this from both policy analysis, comparative politics and international relations approaches. There are numerous interrelated technological, societal, environmental and energy transformations underway which have both foreseeable and unforeseeable consequences. At times societies embrace new technologies, and at other times they resist or reject them immediately or over time.
Global climate change, biodiversity loss, tropical deforestation, ocean pollution, resource depletion, desertification, hazardous chemicals, and nuclear waste management are just some of the environmental challenges facing the planet.
Giving the still growing global population, transitions towards more sustainable lifestyles and energy and economic structures are urgently needed. Major technological changes are underway or on the horizon and some of these may offer important opportunities. Other technological changes could cause new environmental problems. How should we think about new materials, genetic modification, artificial intelligence, robotization, self-driving cars, energy efficiency technologies, renewable energy, or genetic engineering?
The Climate and Environmental Policy Chair’s team consider how different actors, societies, and cultures deal with environmental and energy conflicts. We also think about the various factors that lead to different national policy responses to common problems and the reasons why some countries tend to lead internationally on the political front or to be especially innovative in their technological, societal, and policy responses. We are interested in how political processes can stimulate sustainability transitions, mediate conflict, and set frameworks which are conducive to sub-national and international action.
There are also many equity issues associated with the interrelated technological, environmental, and social transitions underway. There is still great inequality in the world in relation to access to resources and in terms of which communities are most severely impacted by negative environmental trends. As we know from the past, technologies have helped modernize our lives, but at the same time some developments have led to environmental, social, and even political problems. In the future, technological and environmental transformations will impact communities, at times leading to new jobs and other co-benefits, and at other times, leading to job loss and displacement.
The Environmental and Climate Policy Chair is one of the largest centers for the study of environmental, energy, and climate policies at a German university as well as in Europe. A large number of PhD and MSc students are pursuing their studies through our program. The Environmental and Climate Policy Chair cooperates especially closely with the team of Professor Stefan Wurster and offers joint events, workshops, and courses.