Climate change is one of the major global challenges of the twenty-first century. It is essential to take mitigation actions to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases while also adopting measures to adapt to the changes being brought about by climate change. FFU researchers investigate the policy and politics of climate change, looking at the roles of actors, policy processes and policy content and outcome at the national, European, and international levels. Climate change is a horizontal, cross-sectoral policy issue that touches on a wide-variety of policy sectors, including energy supply, transportation, infrastructure, industry, agriculture and services, as well as land-use, households, consumption, nutrition, resources and waste management.
The energy sector has a key role in limiting the effects of global warming. The production and use of energy as well as the trading of energy commodities are of central importance not only for our climate, but also for the economic development, the environment and human health. FFU research addresses transitions to sustainable energy systems that minimize the negative impact on the environment and foster economic growth and technological innovation and create new jobs. This research considers international, national, regional and municipal (local) strategies, policy measures and strategic concepts. Renewable energies, energy efficiency and energy saving are analyzed from political, administrative and socio-economic angles. The FFU performs studies of energy markets, energy infrastructure and security of supply as well as the environmental and climate effects of various electricity, heat and fuel technologies. Particular emphasis is placed on the design of the “Energiewende”.
Other important issues being researched at the FFU are the different national energy structures, policies, and processes related to nuclear energy, shale gas extraction, and other often controversial energy forms. One such area is nuclear energy. The FFU conducts international comparisons of nuclear energy policy and governance systems as well as the policy and politics of nuclear waste. Comparisons are made across European countries as well as with Japan and the United States. Considerable research at the FFU has looked into the Fukushima nuclear disaster and its impacts on energy policies of countries around the world, including Japan. In Germany nuclear energy is a central topic due to the decision to phase-out its use and the concomitant decision requiring a decision on a final disposal method and site for highly radioactive waste. New analytical approaches are demanded especially with respect to the risks and safety of radioactive waste but also in terms of participatory processes in the search of a final repository.