The Wuppertal Institute has compiled a selection of their ten most important scientific publications of the year 2020. The peer-reviewed articles provide an insight into the current internationally recognised research activities and the transdisciplinary research approach of the Institute.
Modelling and transdisciplinary methods
The team led by Dr. Carolin Baedeker, Co-Head of the Sustainable Production and Consumption Division at the Wuppertal Institute, is dealing in their large-scale longitudinal living lab study with the management of undesired side effects and effectiveness losses (rebounds) regarding the implementation of energy efficiency in buildings. For this purpose, a user-centred building management system (UC-BMS) was developed, tested and evaluated in six office buildings, 85 offices and within two heating periods. The results of the study "Interactive design to encourage energy efficiency in offices: Developing and testing a user-centred building management system based on a living lab approach" show that such an approach can save up to 20 per cent energy while maintaining or even improving comfort and work productivity.
In their study "Using agent-based models to generate transformation knowledge for the German Energiewende – potentials and challenges derived from four case studies" the team led by Dr. Georg Holtz, Researcher in the Sectors and Technologies Research Unit at the Wuppertal Institute, identifies features that promote agent-based modelling for the generation of transformation knowledge in the German Energiewende.
Climate, energy and resources transition
In their study "Risks and opportunities associated with decarbonising Rotterdam's industrial cluster", Clemens Schneider, Prof. Dr. Stefan Lechtenböhmer and Dr. Sascha Samadi from the Future Energy and Industry Systems Division, develop three possible scenarios for the decarbonisation of the Rotterdam industrial cluster. The study identifies both opportunities and risks for the Rotterdam port industry to provide a basis for decision-making for policymakers and investors.
Based on 113,559 users of an online footprint calculator, Johannes Buhl, Prof. Dr. Christa Liedtke, Sebastian Schuster and Katrin Bienge, Co-Head of the Research Unit Production and Consumption Systems, Wuppertal Institute, analyse the material footprint in Germany from 2015 to 2020. The result of the study "Predicting the material footprint in Germany between 2015 and 2020 via seasonally decomposed autoregressive and exponential smoothing algorithms" shows that the total material footprint has decreased by 0.4 per cent per year on average. The predictions do not indicate that the material footprint of private consumption follows the reduction path of 3.3 per cent per year that leads to a sustainable consumption of natural resources.
In their discussion paper "The Corona Crisis and Climate Protection – keeping long-term goals in mind: cleverly directing economic aid and exploiting synergy potentials for urgently needed investments," Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick, Scientific Managing Director of the Wuppertal Institute, and Prof. Dr. Uwe Schneidewind, former Scientific Managing Director, point out criteria and measures that should be considered when distributing economic stimulus programmes during the Corona crisis, with a view to sustainable transformation processes. In particular, they focus on the synergy potentials of future-oriented and urgently needed investments.
In their study "Achieving Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria's power sector: assessment of transformation pathways," the team led by Maria Yetano Roche, Researcher in the International Energy Transitions Research Unit at the Wuppertal Institute, identifies and critically examines the pathways available to Nigeria for achieving its 2030 goals in terms of electricity access, renewable energies and decarbonisation of the power sector. For this purpose, three possible scenarios for electrification and the growth of demand, generation and transmission capacity are developed based on published data and stakeholder interviews. In the most ambitious green transition scenario, the targets for access to electricity for the population are met. The decarbonisation pledges are exceeded in all three scenarios, but the renewable energy targets are only partially met.
Dr. Chun Xia-Bauer, Senior Researcher in Energy Policy Research Unit at the Wuppertal Institute, together with Mingshun Zhang, Ya Lian and Hui Zhao from the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, investigated the reasons for limited access to green financing for energy service companies (ESCOs) in western China in the study "Unlocking green financing for building energy retrofit: a survey in the western China." To do so, they conducted a survey of 469 subjects, interviewed 50 relevant stakeholders from ESCOs, financial institutions, and local housing authorities, and made on-site visits. The researchers found that the best practices for capacity building of ESCOs and the local financial sector, the increased participation of intermediary organisations or intermediaries, and the diversification of financial sources and financing mechanisms and models that have emerged at the local level should be more widely disseminated in China.
In their study "Consumer Perception of Online Attributes in Circular Economy Activities," the team of Nicole Stein, Researcher in the Material Loops Research Unit at the Wuppertal Institute, deals with the question, whether experiences of consumers with circular economy activities such as lending, sharing, recycling and upcycling, influence perceptions and preferences in the construction of a website. Nine attributes of online presences were selected and ranked in comparison to each other. For example, customers perceive certifications and customer ratings as particularly relevant when selecting online shops. In addition, people who have no previous knowledge of the circular economy would like more information about this business model.
Linking theoretical approaches of policy diffusion with empirical evidence from working with cities, Stefan Werland, Vice Head Berlin Office and Senior Researcher in the Mobility and International Cooperation Research Unit, examines in his paper "Diffusing sustainable urban mobility planning in the EU" how the European Commission promotes the concept of sustainable urban mobility planning (SUMP) among European cities. He concludes that the Commission plays a different role and uses all mechanisms in parallel, although with different intensities. Furthermore, he found first indications of factors that limit the mechanisms' abilities to directly influencing urban mobility systems and mobility behaviour.
In their revised article "Harnessing international climate governance to drive a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic," Wolfgang Obergassel, Co-Head of the Research Unit Global Climate Governance, Lukas Hermwille, Senior Researcher in the same Research Unit, and Sebastian Oberthür from the Free University of Brussels discuss how international climate policy can contribute to a green recovery. The article was published in English in the journal "Climate Policy" and is a further developed version of the Wuppertal Institute's discussion paper from June 2020.
The top ten articles are available on the Wuppertal Institute's publication server in the links below.