Top 10 Publications of 2023

The ten best peer-reviewed publications of the Wuppertal Institute of the past year

  • News 19.02.2024

Every year, the Wuppertal Institute presents the ten most important scientific, peer-reviewed publications from the previous year. With this selection from 2023, the Wuppertal Institute aims to provide an insight into the state of its internationally perceived research work against the background of its transdisciplinary research approach.

Seven articles from 2023 were selected on the topic of climate, energy and resource transition.

These include the comment by Dr. Lukas Hermwille and Wolfgang Obergassel from the Global Climate Governance Research Unit, which was published jointly with the Stockholm Environment Institute and the JRF Institute IDOS in the journal "Nature Climate Change". The authors find that better integration of climate action and sustainable development can help to increase the ambition of the next Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as well as the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Transparent participatory processes can help drive this much-needed additional ambition. Governments should use this year as an opportunity to emphasise the links between climate and sustainable development.

Wolfgang Obergassel, Dr. Chun Xia-Bauer and Dr. Stefan Thomas from the Energy, Transport and Climate Policy Research Division investigated the question of how global climate governance and international cooperation for the promotion of energy-efficient buildings can be enhanced. In their article "Strengthening global climate governance and international cooperation for energy-efficient buildings", they first synthesise existing literature on mitigation enablers and barriers as well as existing literature on how global governance may help address these barriers. The analysis based on this shows that global governance – despite the local specificities of the sector – has a number of levers at its disposal that could be used to promote emission reductions via energy efficiency.

Together with researchers from Lund University, Ylva Kloo from the Sectors and Technologies Research Unit evaluates and compares roadmaps of the European chemical industry in her article to find out how the industry envisions its role in the transition to net zero emissions. The analysis shows: To date, the chemical industry does not have a strong, shared vision for pathways to net zero emissions. The authors conclude that such a future vision would benefit from an approach that includes the demand side as well as emissions along the entire value chain.

In the coming years, many countries around the world are expected to take stricter political measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand clean energy sources. This will also impact the industrial sector: Industrial production is likely to progressively shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. As a result, the local availability of renewable energy resources could become an increasingly important factor for location decisions in energy-intensive industries. Dr. Sascha Samadi and Prof. Dr. Stefan Lechtenböhmer from the Future Energy and Industry Systems Research Division refer to this pull factor as the "renewables pull" effect. In their paper, the scientists, together with a co-author, introduce the concept of "renewables pull" and explain why its importance is likely to increase in the future.

Green hydrogen and synthetic fuels are increasingly recognised as key strategic elements for the global energy transition. The Middle East and North Africa region, with its large wind and solar potential, is well positioned to generate renewable energy for the production of green hydrogen and synthetic fuels at low cost. The region is therefore seen as a potential future producer and exporter. In this paper, Sibel Raquel Ersoy, Dr. Julia Terrapon-Pfaff and Dr. Peter Viebahn from the Future Energy and Industry Systems Research Division, together with co-authors, examine the existing infrastructural and industrial prerequisites in Jordan, Morocco and Oman for the development of a green hydrogen and downstream synthetic fuel sector.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence supporting sufficiency as an inevitable strategy for mitigating climate change. Despite this, sufficiency plays a minor role in existing climate and energy policies. Researchers from the junior research group "The role of energy sufficiency in energy transition and society" (EnSu) at the Wuppertal Institute, the European University of Flensburg and the Öko-Institut carried out a content analysis of the recommendations of European citizens' councils on climate change mitigation. The result: Compared to the National Energy and Climate Plans, the recommendations of the Citizens' Councils contain a significantly higher proportion of sufficiency measures, with a stronger focus on regulatory measures. Consequently, the councils' recommendations can be interpreted as a call for a sufficiency and regulatory turnaround in climate protection policy.

The Digital Product Passport (DPP) is a concept for collecting and sharing product-related information along the life cycle of products. The aggregation and use of this product life-cycle data is crucial for the creation of a resource-efficient circular economy. In their study, Maike Jansen and Dr. Holger Berg from the Digital Transformation Research Unit, together with co-authors, identify the requirements for a DPP system, categorise them and critically analyse them to identify gaps. In summary, the research provides insights into the criteria to be considered when creating a DPP system.

Three articles were selected from the area of consumer behaviour.

In his study, Paul R. Schneider from the Mobility and Transport Policy Research Unit examines how e-bikes can contribute to reducing ubiquitous automobility and its negative effects on climate, mobility equity and quality of urban life – and which policy measures are suitable for promoting this climate-friendly form of mobility. The study focuses on commuting, as this use case often presents the greatest barriers to the use of e-bikes in everyday life. The analysis first provides a thorough description of the practice elements (meanings, materials and skills) that play a role in commuting by e-bike. In addition, the study identifies drivers and barriers to daily commuting by e-bike, identifies a number of elements that are important for overcoming these barriers and presents two concrete policy approaches to promote the substitution of car travel by e-biking.

In their article "Leftovers lovers vs. haters: A latent class analysis on dinner leftover management behaviours", Sebastian Schuster and Prof. Dr. Melanie Speck from the Production and Consumption Systems Research Unit, together with other authors, identify different segments of consumers. Based on this, they investigate whether belonging to a segment with a positive attitude and a conscious approach to leftovers reduces the amount of food waste. They pay particular attention to meal kits that contain matched portion and ingredient sizes. The results of the latent class analysis point to five consumer segments. The authors identify differences in the amount of leftovers between the individual segments – and therefore also different effects of meal kits: They found a reduction in food waste in two segments, but not in the other segments.

To date, there have been no studies in Germany that show the impact of food on biodiversity at the menu level. This means that neither commercial kitchens nor their patrons are able to record the biodiversity impact of the meals served there. Julia Heinz and Prof. Dr. Melanie Speck from the Production and Consumption Systems Research Unit, together with co-authors, describe the development of a suitable assessment framework as well as initial results. The BiTe Biodiversity Index (BBI) developed for the study allows the impact of meals on biodiversity to be assessed and thus for the recipes to be optimised accordingly.

All Open Access articles are available on the publication server via the links below. If you are interested in articles that are not Open Access, please contact us here.

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