To achieve climate neutrality by 2050, EU policy will have to be reoriented – from incremental towards structural change. As expressed in the European Green Deal, the challenge is to initiate the necessary transformation to climate neutrality in the coming years, while enhancing competitiveness, productivity, employment. To mobilise the creative, financial and political resources, the EU also needs a governance framework that facilitates cross-sectoral policy integration and that allows citizens, public and private stakeholders to participate in the process and to own the results.
In Germany, environmental policy began to form as an independent policy field in the late 1960s. A major milestone in the history of German environmental policy was the adoption of the Federal Government's first environmental programme in 1971. Ecologic Institute supports the BMU (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety) in the review of this historical event.
In its last coalition agreement (2016-2021), the State of Berlin committed itself to the "Zero Waste" model in order to transform its waste management towards a circular economy. Re-using goods takes centre stage in this transformation. In the context of the political goal of strengthening the reuse of used goods, the project aims at supporting and executing re-use measures in Berlin in order to foster structures and actors in Berlin that bring the used goods market out of its niche. The Ecologic Institute supports the project for the Berlin Senate Administration by designing and conducting three virtual expert dialogues in Berlin.
Ecomodulation of fees can play a crucial role in incentivising upstream design changes by reducing the fees for products or packaging designed for circular economy. Products or packaging with circular design (e.g., a minimum percentage of recycled content, high reparability index, reduction in weight of material, shift from low to easily recyclable material(s)) could benefit from reduced fees, while those with design barriers, which are also often exported to developing countries for end-of-life treatment, could incur higher fees. Thus, ecomodulation of fees can play a vital role in prioritizing design for as waste prevention, reusability, reparability and recyclability. Against this background, this project run by Ecologic Institute focuses on the product streams batteries, plastic/packaging, textiles and waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE).
What characterizes a monitoring system that effectively considers aspects of precautionary environmental protection? The aim of this project is to answer this question with regard to the new German bioeconomy strategy. The German government aims at a transformation process towards a sustainable and bio-based economy.
Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues. Calls for a global treaty to tackle plastic pollution have increased over the last years, discussions will continue at the next sessions of the UN Environment Assembly in February 2022. After the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics concluded its work in November 2020, various countries have started to prepare positions and forge alliances in preparation of these pending discussions.
In 2019, the EU and the countries of the South American trade bloc Mercosur concluded negotiations on a trade agreement. The negotiated text of the agreement includes a chapter on trade and sustainability. The rules on forest protection are weak, however, and the agreement does not provide for sanctions for violations of sustainability-related commitments, either. Against this backdrop, Ralph Bodle and Christiane Gerstetter, both Senior Fellows at the Ecologic Institute, analyse legal options for strengthening forest protection in the agreement. The legal analysis was compiled on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU).
The project "Capacity Building Emissions Trading to Support Bilateral Cooperation" aims to disseminate knowledge on emissions trading internationally and to support partner countries in setting up national emissions trading systems. The consortium supports the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety's bilateral activities in the field of capacity development and training on emissions trading. Former and current cooperation partners include Brazil, China, Chile, Kazakhstan, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.
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's Energy and Climate Protection Programme. In the research project "ElectricityNeighbours", Ecologic Institute and IÖW evaluate the experience gained so far in implementing such prosumer projects in Berlin, outline innovation potentials for the field and develop ideas on how the regulatory framework can be further developed. In doing so, the team looks beyond pure tenant electricity projects to the potentials of sector coupling.
Ecologic Institute has been contracted to support the European Commission in preparing a draft version of the Guidance on the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy river restoration targets, thereby bringing together existing knowledge and technical input from different contributors into a coherent document.
The aim of this project is to assess – for a selection of EU Member States – the impacts of policies and measures (PaMs) as described in their National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). To this end, the project team identifies specific policy instruments and related ex-ante and ex-post evaluations, to collect and compare impact estimates and analyze the implications for achieving the energy and climate goals. The assessment also provides insights into the methodological uncertainties of evaluations in different policy areas. The considered policy areas are energy efficiency, renewable energy, cross-cutting instruments and agriculture and the NECPs from the following Member States are included; Germany, Denmark, France, Slovenia and Sweden.
The H2020 EU-funded PONDERFUL project will investigate how ponds can be used as nature-based solutions (NBS) for climate change. It will evaluate the interaction and feedback between biodiversity, ecosystem services and climate in pondscapes.
Thuringia is one of the first German states to draft its own resource conservation strategy. This requires a solid data basis on the resource flows of the state. In the ThüRess project, Ecologic Institute and the Institute of Economic Structures Research (GWS) are developing this database as well as measures for such a resource conservation strategy.
Ecologic Institute, together with partners, will develop recommendations on how environmental offences can be better prevented in Germany through deterrent sanctions.
The project first investigates at a theoretical level under which conditions a certain sanction, such as a prison sentence, has a deterrent effect against environmental law violations. These theoretical considerations are substantiated by means of case studies on illegal waste disposal and disposal of waste by ships on the sea. On this basis, the research team will develop recommendations for policies as well as practical measures to improve enforcement.
The aim of this project is to develop and test a methodology to assess the management effectiveness of marine Natura 2000 sites and other EU MPAs, in the context of obligations under the Birds and Habitats Directives and commitments under the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030. This methodology will build on experiences and methods used in the Natura 2000 network and other MPAs, as well as on any other available efforts in developing new systems that can be applied to the European context.
This project supports the EU Commission's DG CLIMA to develop and evaluate different options for certifying carbon removal solutions. Carbon removals, also known as negative emissions, include nature-based technologies such as afforestation and soil carbon, and technology-based approaches, including carbon capture and storage from direct air or bioenergy. To reach the EU's 2050 goal of climate neutrality, alongside mitigation of GHG emissions, the EU must remove substantial amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. This project assesses existing knowledge and identifies policy options to increase carbon removals across Europe.
This project supports EU Member States in fulfilling a part of their legal requirements under the National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive (2016/2284/EU), by providing them with targeted capacity building as well as updating and developing the toolbox of ecosystem reporting tools. The latter includes proposing core parameters and harmonized protocols; drafting guidance on site selection; and updating the reporting template and corresponding technical guidance.
Land and soils are essential for life on Earth. Yet one third of the global land is considered as degraded and this process is continuing due to higher food production, urbanization and industrial activity. In a new Horizon 2020 project, Ecologic Institute develops a roadmap for research and innovation on soil systems and land management – jointly with stakeholders. The Soil Mission Support project will thus improve coordination in this field and support the EU Mission on Soil Health and Food, the European Green Deal, and contribute to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Agroecology is widely recognized for its contribution to improving the environmental, climate and social impacts of agriculture. Building on the understanding of ecological interactions in agricultural systems, agroecology supports farmers' ability to deliver ecosystem services, improving sustainability and resilience of agriculture in the face of climate crisis. Sufficient capacity for place-based research and knowledge co-creation, however, are needed to accelerate the transition towards agroecology in Europe. The Horizon 2020 project "European Agroecology Living Lab and Research Infrastructure Network" (ALL-Ready) addresses this need by preparing the ground for a European Network of Living labs and Research Infrastructure.
Estuaries are under considerable human pressure from river basin inputs and direct sources of pollution from ports and industrial sites. In addition, there are countless human activities, including cargo shipping, tourism, trade and fishing. Climate change also results in longer periods of heat and oxygen deficiency, which have a negative impact on the ecosystem. In this diverse range of pressures, clear, science-led and sustainable management is a challenge.
This project assesses a selection of climate-change adaptation measures for the agriculture sector and gathers quantitative evidence on their potential to compensate for climate-change induced productivity losses. The results feed into the parent project "Climate change and bioeconomy – Sustainability gap analysis for the agricultural sector".
Together with FutureCamp, Ecologic Institute examines in detail the design options of climate protection contracts. The focus is on the practical implementation of the instrument, such as the design in compliance with EU state aid law as well as overlap and demarcation with other (funding) instruments.
Between October 2020 and June 2023, the project "Socio-Ecological Transformation of the Food System" (STErn) is developing a political roadmap for the transformation towards a sustainable food system. The roadmap will identify short-, medium-, and long-term policy options for action in the areas of regionalization, the dietary shift toward plant-based diets, and the future of organic agriculture and food. It also discusses the role of the financial sector in transforming the food system.
The project provides an overview of the current water availability in Germany, as well as its future development under climate change conditions. It predicts emerging conflicts of use and develops possible solution strategies. For example, a concept for regional water advisory councils will be developed. These are intended to avoid water conflicts by enabling representatives of water-relevant sectors to exchange information. In addition, options for reusing water for irrigation in urban areas are being examined.
The EU has agreed to become climate neutral by 2050. Achieving climate neutrality in the next 30 years is a great societal, economic and political undertaking, presenting many challenges and opportunities. The Climate Recon 2050 project addresses the central process of the development and implementation of national long-term climate strategies in EU Member States. The project combines analysis with dialogue to inform political debate.
The EU-funded project "Species protection rules under the Birds and Habitats Directives: how effectively are they integrated into sectoral policies" supports the European Commission (DG Environment) in identifying existing gaps and uptake of the species protection system provided by the EU Nature Directives in the Member States, specifically in the agricultural and forestry sectors. The project is led by Milieu and is supported by Ecologic Institute, IEEP and Stritih.
Modernizing the EU's building stock is essential to meet the twin goals of the reduction of GHG emissions and green recovery. This short project therefore focuses on the two goals and argues for spending a specific share of the national Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) funds on building renovation. The recommendation is to allocate RRF funds according to the building sector's share of total GHG emissions, in line with the EU's green recovery commitments and the requirement to spend 37 % of the Recovery and Resilience Facility grants and loans on climate-related investments. For full results check out the related think piece.
In this project, Clean Energy Wire (CLEW) and Ecologic Institute organised a series of 10 online briefing events (webinars) to inform journalists about the key elements and topics of European energy and climate policy. In total, more than 130 journalists from 30 countries participated in the ten events, dissecting topics like the 2030 EU climate target, the UN climate change conference COP26 and the EU's carbon border levy plans. The attendees ranged from journalists representing smaller local publications to those from established media such as Bloomberg, NY Times, the Guardian, Euractiv and Die Welt.
Energy prosumption through the deployment of residential renewable energy technologies reduces GHG emissions, speeds up the energy transition and provides important community benefits. In this project "Energy Prosumption in Europe", Ecologic Institute, CE Delft and Fraunhofer ISI help the European Energy Agency to better explain how energy prosumerism works in the agency’s 32 member countries – with the aim of inspiring citizens and decision-makers at all governance levels to expand prosumerism.