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Katharina Umpfenbach


Katharina Umpfenbach

MA (History, Political Science and Economics)
MSc (Environmental Change and Management)

Coordinator Energy
Senior Fellow


Katharina Umpfenbach is a Senior Fellow and coordinates Ecologic Institute's work on energy policy. Her research focuses on developing a new regulatory framework that can enable energy sector decarbonisation and sector coupling. She is particularly interested in the interplay of energy market integration in Europe and the German Energiewende and in the integration of the power and transport sectors through electric mobility. She is a native German speaker and fluent in English and French.

With over a decade of experience in policy research, Katharina Umpfenbach has carried out numerous energy policy projects. Currently, she leads an accompanying research process for Germany's major energy research programme SINTEG that showcases innovative solutions for a fully renewable energy system. Since its inception, she has also works on the EU Clean Energy For All Europeans package, with a particular focus on the Governance Regulation, and covers Germany's exit from coal-firing. In the past, Katharina assisted the German Environment Ministry (BMU) in adapting the national support scheme for solar energy and supported the negotiations for the EU 2030 energy and climate targets.

In addition to her research and consultancy work, Katharina teaches students from University of Notre Dame and Duke University. She also regularly presents her insights during visitor programmes for journalists and policy makers from accross the world who seek to better understand the implications of energy sector transformation.

Prior to joining Ecologic Institute, Katharina Umpfenbach worked at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Washington DC. During her time at UNEP, she helped foster cooperation between North American NGOs and UNEP and contributed to environmental assessment reports. She also interned in the German Bundestag.

Katharina Umpfenbach was awarded a MSc in Environmental Change and Management with distinction from Oxford University. In her previous studies at the Humboldt-Universität in Berlin (Germany), Katharina Umpfenbach studied history, political science and economics. Her studies were supported by the German National Academic Foundation.

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Selected projects by Katharina Umpfenbach
In the research programme "Smart Energy Showcases – Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition" (SINTEG), over 300 research institutions and companies in five model regions are developing new solutions for a completely renewable energy system. Ecologic Institute is part... Read more
Photovoltaic technology is a key lever for decarbonising Berlin's power consumption and for social participation in the transformation process, especially for tenants. Therefore, solar energy and projects on rental apartment blocks are key elements of the Berlin Senate... Read more
Mabel Amber |
Without a thorough transformation in the transport sector, the energy transition will not succeed. On the one hand, emissions caused by mobility must be significantly reduced. On the other hand, the two sectors of transport and energy need to be linked. Lower Saxony,... Read more
|Fotolia © Chungking
Europe's energy sector transformation is now well on its way. Yet, to reach the EU's ambitious decarbonisation target for 2050, more fundamental changes will be required in the energy and transport system after 2020. To provide a solid basis for decision-makers, the... Read more
| Fotolia © Andreas F
Lignite and hard coal is still Germany's most important energy source for power generation. Yet, Germany's climate policy goals can only be achieved if coal-firing decreases and is phased out completely in the long-term. To date, the "when and how" of this coal exit... Read more
| Fotolia © chungking
The EU is currently negotiating a comprehensive reorientation of energy and climate policy for the decade 2020-2030. Ecologic Institute drafted a strategy paper on how the next German federal government can shape the EU negotiations so as to create an EU electricity... Read more
| Fotolia © Yvonne Bogdanski
The Ecologic Institute is writing a brief study on the topic "the energy transition as a European project" on behalf of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. The study focuses on the electricity sector and the policy measures and objectives, which the EU and Germany's... Read more
| Fotolia © vege
To ensure that the EU meets or potentially overachieves its 2030 energy and climate targets and embarks on a decarbonisation trajectory that is consistent its 2050 objective, an effective and robust governance system is of key importance. Given the diversity of... Read more
Selected publications by Katharina Umpfenbach
Publication's cover

© Agora Energiewende

The EU has raised its climate target for 2030 to at least -55 % and is now debating how to reform its climate policy architecture so that it can reach it. In a new study, Agora Energiewende and Ecologic Institute sketch a "Fit for 55" package that can ensure both... Read more

Agora Energiewende and Ecologic Institute (2021): A "Fit for 55" package based on environmental integrity and solidarity: Designing an EU climate policy architecture for ETS and effort sharing to deliver 55% lower GHG emissions by 2030, Berlin: Agora Energiewende.



Tenant electricity systems generate solar power on apartment buildings and deliver it directly to the households in the building. In a new study, Katharina Umpfenbach and Ricarda Faber evaluate the effects of the existing tenant electricity systems in Berlin. The bottom... Read more

Umpfenbach, K., Faber, R. (2021). StromNachbarn: Evaluation der sozialen und ökologischen Wirkungen von Mieterstromanlagen in Berlin, Berlin: Ecornet Berlin.

Cover publication AIA EU 2030

Ecologic Institute

On 17 September 2020, the European Commission proposed to raise the EU climate target for 2030, so as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% compared to 1990. In this policy brief, CLIMACT and Ecologic Institute unpack the Commission's impact assessment for the new... Read more

Climact, Ecologic Institute (2020): Analysing the impact assessment on raIsing the EU 2030 climate target - How does the European Commission’s approach compare with other existing studies?

In January 2019, Germany made a big step towards a coal phase-out: A stakeholder commission established by the federal government agreed on a schedule for plant retirement and on measures to support coal regions. For experts and journalists seeking to understand the... Read more

German Institute for Economic Research, Wuppertal Institute, Ecologic Institute (eds.) 2019: Phasing out Coal in the German Energy Sector. Interdependencies, Challenges and Potential Solutions.

The 2030 targets for decarbonising the EU economy have been agreed, but what does this actually mean for the European energy and transport systems? In a new publication, Agora Energiewende is providing exactly this "Big Picture" of the EU energy transformation up until... Read more

Agora Energiewende (2019): European Energy Transition 2030: The Big Picture. Ten Priorities for the next European Commission to meet the EU's 2030 targets and accelerate towards 2050.

This paper analyzes the proposal of the European Commission for a new regulation on the "Governance of the Energy Union". The analysis is framed around two questions: Is the proposed system adequate for supporting the implementation of the 2030 targets? Will it help... Read more

Duwe, Matthias; Meyer-Ohlendorf, Nils; Umpfenbach, Katharina (2017) Governance of the Energy Union - Assessment of the Commission Proposal for a Governance Regulation, Ecologic Institute, Berlin.

The EU is currently negotiating a comprehensive reorientation of energy and climate policy for the decade 2020-2030. In this strategy brief, Katharina Umpfenbach discusses how the next German federal government can shape the EU negotiations so as to create an EU... Read more

Umpfenbach, Katharina (2017): Nach der Bundestagswahl: Worauf es für die deutsche Politik beim Energiepaket der EU ankommt. Heinrich Böll Foundation. Berlin.

In challenging times, the EU is discussing how to reform its energy and climate policy for the period after 2020. The short study "Energiewende as a European project" looks at the negotiations on the Clean Energy package from a German perspective. Katharina Umpfenbach... Read more

Umpfenbach, Katharina (2017): Die Energiewende als europäisches Projekt. Chancen, Reibungspunkte [Energy transition as a European project]. Study commissioned by the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Berlin: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.

On 19 July 2017, Eurostat published its most recent flagship publication "Smarter, greener, more inclusive?". The report assesses the EU's progress in implementing the Europe 2020 strategy. Commissioned by Eurostat, Katharina Umpfenbach of Ecologic Institute edited the... Read more

Markus Hametner et al. 2017: Smarter, greener, more inclusive? - Indicators to support the Europe 2020 strategy. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

National long-term (2050) climate strategies have received increased attention in European policy debates in the past two years. The Paris Agreement also invites countries to develop such strategies. This study (a collaborative effort between IDDRI and Ecologic... Read more

Sartor, O., Donat, L., Duwe, M., Umpfenbach, K. (2017). Developing 2050 decarbonization strategies in the EU: Insights on good practice from national experiences, Study n°03/2017, IDDRI, Paris, France, 22 p.

The EU is currently discussing two overlapping policy frameworks: The Climate and Energy Framework for 2020 to 2030 and the Energy Union strategy. As a key element of the reformed system, the EU intends to reduce administrative burden for member states by streamlining... Read more

Umpfenbach, Katharina (2015): Streamlining planning and reporting requirements in the EU Energy Union framework. An opportunity for building consistent and transparent strategies, Ecologic Institute, Berlin.

Both at the international level and in the European Union, governments are currently negotiating future approaches to mitigating global climate change. In both arenas, a key question is how the institutions will follow-up on the implementation of agreed targets and... Read more

Bodle, Ralph and Umpfenbach, Katharina (2015): The links between reporting requirements under the UNFCCC and EU governance of 2030 targets. Policy Brief for the European Climate Foundation, Ecologic Institute, Berlin.

© Ecologic Institut
In the debates about the new climate and energy framework for 2030 and the proposed Energy Union, the European Commission and the Council call for increased regional cooperation between Member States. In addition to strengthening the internal market, this cooperation is... Read more

Katharina Umpfenbach, Andreas Graf and Camilla Bausch (2015): Regional cooperation in the context of the new 2030 energy governance. Berlin: Ecologic Institute.

The future of EU climate and energy policy beyond the year 2020 is currently a matter of intense debate. The European Commission has tabled initial proposals for new targets and some changes to key instruments such as the Emissions Trading System (ETS) upon which the EU... Read more

Meyer-Ohlendorf, Nils; Matthias Duwe; Katharina Umpfenbach and Keighley McFarland 2014: The Next EU Climate and Energy Package – EU Climate Policies after 2020, Ecologic Institute, Berlin.

From urban gardening and networks of sharing to community-owned wind farms: citizens' initiatives emerge all over Europe in a quest to find new answers to today's pressing challenges. This policy brief explores new forms of cooperation between local governments and... Read more

Piotrowski, Ralph; Susanne Langsdorf and Ania Rok 2013: Going out of the town hall – The benefits and how they can be achieved. [Policy Brief]. Berlin: Ecologic Institute.

A policy brief written by Katharina Umpfenbach and colleagues for DG Environment summarises the most relevant scientific insights and analyses the implications for policy making. It highlights novel policy ideas for triggering changes in consumer behaviour. It is a... Read more

Umpfenbach, Katharina 2014: Influences on consumer behaviour. Policy implications beyond nudging, Berlin: Ecologic Institute.

The objective of the DYNAMIX project is to identify policy mixes to absolute decoupling of economic growth from resource use and its associated environmental impacts. This study by Ecologic Institute's Katharina Umpfenbach serves to clarify the shared key assumptions... Read more

Umpfenbach, Katharina 2013: How will we know if absolute decoupling has been achieved? Common Approach for DYNAMIX. Ecologic Institute, Berlin.

Is there a trend towards more sustainable consumption patterns in the European Union (EU)? Is there a reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions? Is the EU losing its natural capital? Answers to these and other questions are presented in the 2013 Eurostat monitoring... Read more

Popova, Mariana et al. (eds.) 2013: Sustainable development in the European Union. 2013 monitoring report of the EU sustainable development strategy. [eurostat Statistical books 2013 edition]. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

This synthesis report reflects on the four cases of alternative consumption and production niches observed in InContext. From the cross-examination of the empirical material, it distills tentative conclusions on what can be learnt from the emergence and governance... Read more

Bauler, Tom et al. 2013: Alternative Collective Consumption and Production Niches - Lessons from their emergence, developement and governance, Berlin.

In times of financial crises and pressure to justify public spending, evaluation of projects, programs, and policies increases. Sustainability, which has become a socially and politically widely accepted concept throughout Europe, therefore ought to be included to a... Read more

Raggamby, Anneke von and Frieder Rubrik (eds.) 2012: Sustainable Development, Evaluation And Policy-Making. Theory, Practise and Quality Assurance. [Evaluating Sustainable Development series]. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.

The 2011 Eurostat monitoring report reviews the progress and implementation of the EU sustainable development strategy. The 2011 monitoring report was published on the Eurostat website. As partner in a consortium with the Vienna University of Economic and Business ... Read more

European Commission (ed.) 2011: Sustainable development in the European Union. 2011 monitoring report of the EU sustainable development strategy. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Quelle: CoM 2009: Covenant of Mayors’ standard presentation, p. 6.
Ecologic Institute led a study examining how regional and local authorities contribute to the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy by transforming their energy systems. The report, which was commissioned by the Committee of Regions aims to propose a set of... Read more

Ecologic Institute, Berlin/Vienna; ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability; European Secretariat Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) 2010: After Lisbon, the Role of Regional and Local Authorities in a New Strategy for Sustainable Growth and Better Jobs – Local Sustainable Energy Strategies: Opportunities and Challenges: European Union Committee of the Regions.

The National Renewable Energy Action Plans offer a unique insight into the energy policy context of each EU Member State. For a comparative analysis of six European action plans, Katharina Umpfenbach and Stephan Sina contributed a review of Germany's action plan.For the... Read more

Umpfenbach, Katharina and Stephan Sina 2010: "Analysis of the German Federal Government's National Renewable Energy Action Plan", in: 27 National Action Plans = 1 European Energy Policy? Brussels: Green European Foundation, 44-56.

In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama declared the need for “serious investments in clean energy” because “the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy”. In a new paper funded by the German Marshall... Read more

Mehling, Michael et al. 2010: Transforming Economies through Green Investment: Needs, Progress and Policies. [GMF Climate & Energy Paper Series 2010]. Washington DC: German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Using different scenarios of socio-economic and climate development, this study examines potential impacts of climate change on Germany's financial budget. Additionally, the authors include effects of demographic change and assess the scope for action of public... Read more

Bräuer, Dr. Ingo et al. 2009: Klimawandel: Welche Belastungen entstehen für die Tragfähigkeit der Öffentlichen Finanzen? Ecologic Institute, Berlin.

Deforestation is responsible for roughly one fifth of global carbon emissions, most of it in the tropical forests of the developing world. At the Copenhagen climate talks, negotiators discussed a potential new mechanism to compensate nations for keeping their forests... Read more

Brack, Duncan and Katharina Umpfenbach 2009: "Deforestation and Climate Change: Not for Felling". The World Today, Vol. 65, No. 10, 7–9.

On 14 October 2008 Greenpeace published a study on illegal timber imports to Germany which was compiled by Ecologic. The study analyses how illegal timber imports impact the economic viability of the timber and forestry industries in Germany. The study shows that the... Read more

Kaphengst, Timo; Katharina Umpfenbach and Ingo Bräuer 2008: „Die ökonomischen Folgen des illegalen Holzhandels für die deutsche Holz- und Forstwirtschaft“, commissioned by Greenpeace e.V., Berlin: Ecologic - Institut für Internationale und Europäische Umweltpolitik.