Challenges and tasks

Since the beginning of the 1980s, the idea of a “sustainable development” is seen as the general principle in order to combine/unite the conservation of nature with humane working and income conditions and satisfactory social relationships.

Since several years, especially global warming and climate change have become more and more noticeable and the various resulting risks have entered public awareness. According to scientific experts there is only very little time left to induce a seminal turnaround with respect to our use of energy and other natural resources. Only a rigorous reduction of anthropogenic CO2-emissions may limit the rise of temperature of the atmosphere, and hence avoid disastrous climate catastrophes.

Hence, manifold measures are required to achieve the global objective in terms of climate protection. Even though international treaties and national political initiatives form essential pre-conditions for effective climate protection, many further options for action need to be deployed. From an economic perspective it is known by now, that effective climate protection at an early stage reduces rather than increases its economic costs.

In addition to the research and the use of new technologies, there is great potential to improve climate protection and to achieve a broader effectiveness of environmental innovations through the combination of changes in consumer behaviour and the adoption of existing technologies. For instance, substantial reductions in emissions could be achieved only with interventions in the construction sector and housing conditions.

Still these potential interventions are scarcely used. The social and economics researchers could play here an important role to determine the enabling and inhibiting factors to such measures, paving the way for increased acceptance and increased implementation. Examples of appropriate measures are target group approaches, appropriate communication and motivation activities, as well as the use of incentives (e.g., supporting programmes), or the creation of new opportunities.