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Social-ecological transformation

Just as urgent as is challenging!

Energy, consumption and agricultural transition

With an energy transition in which all countries would stop burning coal, the world would come significantly closer to the emissions target of keeping global warming below 2°C. The extraction and burning of coal often puts a strain not only on the local natural and cultural landscape, but also on public health in many places. Coal is actually only a supposedly cost-effective energy source as long as the ecological and social costs are passed on to others. The example of coal use also makes clear the danger of long-term path dependencies. Countries like China, which rely particularly on coal for their energy supply, have further expanded their investments in this particularly climate-damaging energy production in the wake of the pandemic. For poorer countries, high financing costs inhibit the expansion of renewable energies precisely where they would be particularly necessary and effective. This makes technological innovations and the development of a decentralized, sustainable energy supply more difficult.

The example of the consumption and mobility transition also shows how existing structures promote the waste of scarce resources, environmentally damaging production methods and unfair working and trading conditions. As long as people define themselves primarily through consumption and strive for a constant increase in wealth and status, technological changes alone will not be enough: motorized individual transport in particular shows that a real mobility transition must go well beyond alternative driving technologies, and that it can only succeed if it is also accompanied by a consumption shift and cultural factors not being neglected. The question must be asked whether living, working, vacationing or leisure really have to be associated with ever-increasing mobility requirements. How can more efficient technologies be combined with a culture of sufficiency in order to provide effective incentives for more mobility services, longer product lifespans and comprehensive recycling of the resources used?


An agricultural transition that encompasses agriculture, food production and diets is not only made difficult by problematic incentive structures (e.g. with regard to agricultural support policies), but also by unsustainable behavioral routines and eating habits. Far too often, the competition is carried out at the expense of the weakest, especially nature, animal welfare, human health or precarious workers. The prevailing structures and routines are not easy to change - especially when they are supported by socio-cultural norms and a lack of national and international cooperation and solidarity

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