80 billion dollars is a lot of money. Compared to what European Union (EU) governments have invested in saving banks it is not much, but compared to what is usually invested for climate action it is a lot. 80 billion dollars – that is the amount that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has pledged to provide in climate financing to South Asia and the Pacific over the next decade under its new Strategy 2030.
How can this money be reasonably be invested by a bank which used to have a high carbon investment portfolio such as motorways or coal power plants? The art of transition is demanding not only for individuals, but even more for nations, cities and regions. Therefore, Prof. Dr. Philipp Schepelmann, Project Co-ordinator in the Division Energy, Transport and Climate Policy at the Wuppertal Institute, says: "There are a hundred ways to do it right, but there are a thousand factors which can make it wrong depending on the geography, cultural, economic or political dispositions. This is why we recommend careful experimentation and policy- learning. Complex systems are not determinable and therefore you will never know how system transitions will eventually turn out". Schepelmann has examined a case study from North-Rhine Westphalia in more detail in the recently published brief "Governance of Low-Carbon Energy System Transitions".
What other transition paths are possible? The Sino-German joint research on "Exploring and Assessing Sustainable Transition in Chinese and German urban areas" (EAST) funded by DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), for example, aims to study urban transition pathways with a special focus on energy, transport, and buildings and sector coupling and to evaluate the transition pathways in both Chinese and German cities, to understand similarities and differences of sustainable urban transition pathways in both countries. Dr. Chun Xia, Project Co-ordinator of the EAST project, says: "The project will enable an intensive scientific knowledge exchange between the Wuppertal Institute and two highly recognised scientific institutions in China. And we also hope to stimulate broader discussion among researchers from both countries in this promising field."
The Ruhr and its eco-restructuring has also undergone a remarkable change: the article "The Eco-restructuring of the Ruhr District as an Example of a Managed Transition" by Prof. Uwe Schneidewind (President Wuppertal Institute), Prof. Philipp Schepelmann and Prof. René Kemp (Maastricht University) makes a first attempt of this district as a real-world laboratory for ecological modernisation.
However, for a successful transformation in other regions and cities, further ideas are needed to that serve as a blueprint.
So, spread more of these NRW ideas!
Christin Hasken & Anna Riesenweber