Veganism – solving the climate issue?

by Ella Karnik Hinks

Germany’s Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) just released a report showing that in 2020 the amount of meat produced in the country dropped by four percent. Conversely, production of meat substitutes rose by 39% [1]. With record numbers signing up to Veganuary this year, the controversy around veganism seems to be diminishing. The question is, is going vegan really good for the climate?

500,000 people participated in the global campaign Veganuary which encourages people to commit to a month of veganism in January [2]. The number of vegans in Britain has quadrupled in 5 years to 600,000 according to the vegan society, whereas in Germany the figure has reached over 2 million. Far from being the fringe lifestyle choice of a few hippies, more and more people are turning to veganism for a wide range of reasons related to health, morality, or climate protection. Continue reading Veganism – solving the climate issue?

Take a deep breath, and keep your mask on!

Impressions from watching Israeli television news during a crisis

by Hadas Emma Kedar

Screenshot-Corona_Reshet13_29-3-2020
Screenshot from Ha’mahadura Ha’merkazit, Channel Reshet 13, 29.03.2020

Since its foundation, Israel has been entangled in a constant state of emergency (The Knesset), due to a “protracted conflict”, which evidently influences the news media’s conduct (Peri 2012, p.21) as well as its audiences. Even though the public shows low trust in the media (Mida blog, 2018), Israelis are quite ‘obsessive’ to hard news (Peri 2012, p. 20). Looking at the initial Covid-19 outbreak as communicated in the mass media, the event significantly lured television audiences: in the first Corona months, television news ratings skyrocketed to roughly 30% viewers (in particular in March 2020). Considering the numerous viewers during this health and socioeconomic crisis, I have been examining how Israeli televised news communicated the pandemic in early 2020.

In one word: Panic. But more specifically, I will share some viewing impressions to clarify that. Continue reading Take a deep breath, and keep your mask on!

Why climate and environment belong together

by Felix Schaumann

In a recent blogpost, I argued that climate policy should be seen and treated as something fundamentally different from environmental policy. However, I am not sure I entirely convinced even myself. Therefore, I’d like to use this piece to take the opposite stance, by arguing that climate and environmental problems should be confronted together.

It is true that the main cause of climate change consists of burning fossil fuels, suggesting a focus on economic solutions relating to energy use. However, it is also true that the effects of climate change present themselves as environmental problems – ranging from storms and droughts to the extinction of species and the loss of entire ecosystems.

Rain forest in Bolivia - photo by Felix Schaumann

 

Continue reading Why climate and environment belong together

2020 on Twitter – Was there a topic besides Covid19?

by Fenja De Silva-Schmidt

After the outstanding year 2019, attention for climate change on Twitter in the past year quickly dropped to the level from the years 2018 and before. The harsh decline directly coincides with the rising worldwide attention for the “new” Corona virus later named Covid19, which caused the global pandemic the world is still struggling with. This looks like a prime example for the “Crowding-Out Effect”: Environmental topics tend to be pushed out of media reporting and public attention in times of crisis (Djerf-Pierre 2012).

Nevertheless, climate change punctually received high attention on Twitter. In the first months of 2020, the topic was still as high on the agenda as in the end of 2019, with natural and political events triggering peaks of attention.

graph showing daily number of tweets concerning climate change in 2020

*The Online Media Monitor on Climate Change Coverage (short form: OMM) collects tweets related to climate change if they contain at least one of the search strings #climatechange OR “climate change” OR “global warming” OR Klimawandel and receives at least 5 retweets. Read the OMM Guide to get more details about the methods and take a look at the error log file to get information about server problems. Continue reading 2020 on Twitter – Was there a topic besides Covid19?

How do climate change documentaries imagine the future? A video commentary

Documentaries are one way of presenting the problems climate change poses, but also possibilities for a better future, to a broad audience. In this video, our team member Shorouk Elkobros, now Science Communication Consultant at the European Science Foundation, compares the approach and framing of different climate documentaries. Have fun watching it – but be warned, you might want to watch some or all of the documentaries mentioned afterwards!

The video summarizes the results from Shorouk’s Master’s thesis in Integrated Climate System Sciences at the University of Hamburg, titled “Multimodal framing of climate change-related future scenarios in documentaries”.

Why Climate Policy is not the same as Environmental Policy

by Felix Schaumann

Climate change is receiving more and more attention. While the topic has traditionally been seen as an environmental issue, it is now increasingly reaching beyond and detaching from the sphere of classical environmental policy. In this piece, I will argue that this is a good thing.

The environmental movement has been around for half a century now, at least in many parts of the world. While it has had many successes, it is still a minority in society. At the same time, ambitious climate action is required to happen within this decade, if we want to fulfil the Paris Agreement. In order to instigate political action now, it is necessary to build coalitions that amount to societal majorities, thereby reaching far beyond environmentalist circles.

demonstration image, penguin with a lifebuoy asking where is my home? Continue reading Why Climate Policy is not the same as Environmental Policy

To grow or not to grow? About a crucial debate for the future of the climate

by Christopher Pavenstädt

The climate question is all about the limits. Carbon budgets, tipping points, ticking clocks and planetary boundaries are just some buzzwords flying around in talks about a menacingly waltzing climate change. This has always been a problem, as the main goal of most countries is economic growth: unlimitedness of a social system meets planetary limits.

From limits to growth to the birth of Green Growth

This dilemma was noticed as early as 1972. The Club of Rome report “Limits to Growth” marked the beginning of thinking that there could be inherent limits to the ways carbon-dependent societies are functioning. But already with the political neo-liberal climate of the 1980s and 1990s, the notion of “limits to growth” vanished from public discourse. The idea of a Green Growth was born, arguing there could be both: economic growth AND environmental protection.

Graffiti of Margaret Thatcher "There is no alternative"
Margaret Thatcher – image by trensistor.fr

Continue reading To grow or not to grow? About a crucial debate for the future of the climate

Greenwashing’s new distant cousin

by Clara Nack

“Act Responsibly Even when You Don’t.” Next to this ambiguous slogan, two young models in jeans are lolling about, promoting Diesel’s Green Label, the brands’ sustainable line. And this is what follows: “Go crazy and at the same time treat the planet with our responsible pieces from the Fall Winter 2020 collection”. Sustainability and shopping the new arrivals of each and every season – how “consciously” and “responsibly” sourced they may be – does that match? On another rather urgent note: I still needed Christmas presents when I read this.

Screenshot Diesel Jeans

Googling “sustainable gifts” will return all sorts of attractive results that labels have not only given the Christmas coat of paint, but also a supposedly green one. And in 2020, sustainability as an incentive to buy has had other suits made to measure. There is the #supportyourlocals hashtag, with which online retailers such as Amazon and Zalando are luring me to buy, buy, buy and feel good about it. It’s Christmas after all and everyone should share a piece of the cake. Continue reading Greenwashing’s new distant cousin

Negative emissions – a key assumption in limiting temperature rise

by Ella Karnik Hinks

The application of “negative emissions” technology has been widely used by the IPCC and incorporated into models which predict the most modest estimates of limiting the global temperature rise to 2 degrees [2]. Bioenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage, commonly known under the acronym BECCS, is one such technology. In principle, it works by using biomass as an energy source, and then capturing and storing the carbon dioxide release associated with this process.

Bioenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage infographic
Bioenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage – infographic by Ella Karnik Hinks

Using bioenergy as a fuel is not a new concept – for example burning wood or waste agricultural products, such as sugar cane. So far so good.

However, “negative” emissions are only achieved if the amount of carbon dioxide subsequently stored is greater than is emitted during the biomass production, transportation and utilisation [1]. Theoretically, CO2 can be stored by pumping it underground into geological formations. Yet there remains, in practice, a big “if”, when looking at the current existing facilities of carbon capture and storage – the two processes (of BE and CCS) currently only operate in one commercial plant in the United States [3].

Fundamentally, the issue with the inclusion of such technologies into IPCC models is two-fold: Continue reading Negative emissions – a key assumption in limiting temperature rise

Kein Fortschritt ohne Risiko

von Joana Kollert 

Neulich bin ich zum ersten Mal in einem autonomen Fahrzeug gefahren. Das HOCHBAHN-Forschungsprojekt HEAT testet die Eignung des ersten automatisiert fahrenden Kleinbusses im Hamburger Straßenverkehr. Jede*r kann sich die HEAT-App herunterladen und kostenlos mitfahren. Die Vorstellung, im unbemannten Kleinbus durch die Hamburger HafenCity zu cruisen fand ich aufregend und ein wenig beängstigend. Die Realität war aber harmlos und reichlich unspektakulärer: gemeinsam mit zwei HOCHBAHN Angestellten und einem weiteren Fahrgast tuckelten wir gemächlich über eine Strecke von 800m, von denen wir nur die ersten 100m autonom fuhren, bevor ein Falschparker die manuelle Übernahme erzwang.

Der HEAT Kleinbus in der Hamburger Hafenctiy.

Continue reading Kein Fortschritt ohne Risiko