Environment, Energy, Infrastructure

Here our experts examine the effects of economic activity on the environment and the effects of environmental and energy policy on business.

Their work is based on the conviction that Germany can only achieve sustainable development if climate protection is instituted efficiently, energy is made available in an affordable, safe and environmentally friendly form and business has access to natural resources. If this can be achieved, companies can take advantage of the market opportunities and locate their future development in Germany.

Sections of the Research Unit

  • Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The reduction of CO2 emissions is a global challenge. The European Emissions Trading System is the central policy instrument to tackle the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. However, all European efforts remain ineffective, as long as fast growing economies such as China and India increase their emissions like they have done in the last couple of years.
  • Energy Market: Main topics in this policy area are the electricity market as well as the overall supply of energy resources, a market-based integration of renewable energies, the design of electricity markets and securing energy. The challenge here is to take advantage of a better integrated European energy policy.
  • Green Economy: One big issue in the field of Green Economy is its potential for green jobs. Obviously, the boom of renewables and the importance of sustainable strategies among many companies created many new jobs, but the net effect when taking into account the loss of jobs in more conventional areas such as energy-intensive industries remains an important research subject.
  • Transport Market and Infrastructure: The transport of goods is a crucial input factor for many economic activities. Therefore, consistent regulation and a functioning transport infrastructure are basic requirements for economic growth. As the transport sector is responsible for a remarkable share of CO2 emissions, there is a strong link to climate protection policy. Right now, there are numerous instruments in place. While, for example, cars are subject to threshold regulation, electric rail traffic is part of the emission trading system.

Findings and positions

  • Climate Protection and Economic Growth: Both climate protection and economic growth are explicit goals of the European Commission. Although there are certainly trade-offs, these two goal do not need to contradict each other. One task of the unit’s research is to show which policy instruments provide environmental incentives without hindering economic activity.
  • Market Solutions: With instruments like fixed feed-in tariffs to promote renewable energy installations the share of renewables in energy production has risen significantly in the last couple of years. However, the share of electricity production outside market price signals has grown as well. This has led to huge inefficiencies. Hence, aid to renewables has to be aligned with market incentives. A related problem is the electricity market design, where price signals should be decisive to guarantee security of supply. This is also best implemented on the European level.
  • Economic opportunities: Climate protection is costly when it comes to repairing environmental damage. But there are many opportunities for innovative solutions and new technologies that are more energy efficient or less harmful regarding pollution. The use and re-use of resources is one aspect of this research area. To implement a circular economy in the EU ambitious waste policy targets are necessary. Circular economy regulation needs to open a level playing field for public and private activities.
  • Infrastructure maintenance and investment: Currently, German transport infrastructure is not maintained properly but depreciates because of a lack of investment. This affects firms that require the use of not only transport, but also communication and energy supply. When looking at broadband infrastructure, Germany is not on the same level as other European countries. Therefore, finding ways to finance infrastructure investment is a major task in this area.

Cooperative Partners

  • Wirtschaftskammer Österreich
  • Avenir Suisse
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Frontier Economics
  • Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universität zu Köln
  • Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie

Contact

Thilo Schaefer

Head of the Research Unit Environment, Energy, Infrastructure

Tel+49 221 4981-791

Mailthilo.schaefer@iwkoeln.de

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Adriana Neligan

Adriana Neligan

Senior Economist for Green Economy and Raw Materials

Tel+49 30 27877-128

Mailneligan@iwkoeln.de

@a_neligan

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Thomas Puls

Thomas Puls

Senior Economist for Transport and Infrastructure

Tel+49 221 4981-766

Mailpuls@iwkoeln.de

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Benjamin Tischler

Economist for Energy Supply and International Climate Policy

Tel+49 221 4981-664

Mailtischler@iwkoeln.de

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