Sustainability Economics

Journal articles


  • F. Creutzig, J. Roy, W. F. Lamb, I. M. L. Azevedo, W. Bruine de Bruin, H. Dalkmann, O. Y. Edelenbosch, F. W. Geels, A. Grubler, C. Hepburn, E. Hertwich, R. Khosla, L. Mattauch, J. C. Minx, A. Ramakrishnan, N. D. Rao, J. Steinberger, M. Tavoni, D. Urge-Vorsatz, E. U. Weber (2018)
    Towards demand-side solutions for mitigating climate change

    Nature Climate Change 8(4), 26 Abstract.

    Research on climate change mitigation tends to focus on supply-side technology solutions. A better understanding of demand-side solutions is missing. We propose a transdisciplinary approach to identify demand-side climate solutions, investigate their mitigation potential, detail policy measures and assess their implications for well-being.

  • W. Lamb, M. Callaghan, F. Creutzig, R. Khosla, J. Minx (2018)
    The literature landscape on 1.5C climate change and cities

    Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 30: 26-3 Abstract.

    Cities are key for achieving the 1.5 °C warming limit of the Paris Agreement. However, synthesizing policy insights from the urban literature is a challenge, due to its rapid growth, breadth of topics and relative lack of assessments so far. Here we introduce methods from computational linguistics to build a systematic overview of research on transport, buildings, waste management and urban form. We find that the epistemic core of the mitigation-focused urban literature is currently centered on urban form and emissions accounting, while extensive research into demand-side options remain overlooked, including congestion and parking polices, active travel, and waste management. In the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 °C, and for meeting the target itself, all such city-scale opportunities need to be examined.

  • J. C. Minx, W. F Lamb , M. W Callaghan, S. Fuss , J. Hilaire, F. Creutzig, T. Amann, T. Beringer, W. de Oliveira Garcia, J. Hartmann, T. Khanna, G. Luderer, G. F Nemet, J. Rogelj, P. Smith, J. L. Vicente, J. Wilcox, M. del Mar Zamora (2018)
    Negative emissions: Part 1 - Research landscape and synthesis

    Environmental Research Letters 13 063001 Abstract.

    With the Paris Agreement's ambition of limiting climate change to well below 2?°C, negative emission technologies (NETs) have moved into the limelight of discussions in climate science and policy. Despite several assessments, the current knowledge on NETs is still diffuse and incomplete, but also growing fast. Here, we synthesize a comprehensive body of NETs literature, using scientometric tools and performing an in-depth assessment of the quantitative and qualitative evidence therein. We clarify the role of NETs in climate change mitigation scenarios, their ethical implications, as well as the challenges involved in bringing the various NETs to the market and scaling them up in time. There are six major findings arising from our assessment: first, keeping warming below 1.5?°C requires the large-scale deployment of NETs, but this dependency can still be kept to a minimum for the 2?°C warming limit. Second, accounting for economic and biophysical limits, we identify relevant potentials for all NETs except ocean fertilization. Third, any single NET is unlikely to sustainably achieve the large NETs deployment observed in many 1.5?°C and 2?°C mitigation scenarios. Yet, portfolios of multiple NETs, each deployed at modest scales, could be invaluable for reaching the climate goals. Fourth, a substantial gap exists between the upscaling and rapid diffusion of NETs implied in scenarios and progress in actual innovation and deployment. If NETs are required at the scales currently discussed, the resulting urgency of implementation is currently neither reflected in science nor policy. Fifth, NETs face severe barriers to implementation and are only weakly incentivized so far. Finally, we identify distinct ethical discourses relevant for NETs, but highlight the need to root them firmly in the available evidence in order to render such discussions relevant in practice.

  • S. Fuss, W. F Lamb , M. W Callaghan, J. Hilaire, F. Creutzig, T. Amann, T. Beringer, W. de Oliveira Garcia, J. Hartmann, T. Khanna, D. Lenzi, G. Luderer, G. F Nemet, J. Rogelj, P. Smith, J. L. Vicente, J. Wilcox, M. del Mar Zamora, J. C. Minx (2018)
    Negative emissions: Part 2 - Costs, potentials and side effects

    Environmental Research Letters 13 063002 Abstract.

    The most recent IPCC assessment has shown an important role for negative emissions technologies (NETs) in limiting global warming to 2?°C cost-effectively. However, a bottom-up, systematic, reproducible, and transparent literature assessment of the different options to remove CO2 from the atmosphere is currently missing. In part 1 of this three-part review on NETs, we assemble a comprehensive set of the relevant literature so far published, focusing on seven technologies: bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), afforestation and reforestation, direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS), enhanced weathering, ocean fertilisation, biochar, and soil carbon sequestration. In this part, part 2 of the review, we present estimates of costs, potentials, and side-effects for these technologies, and qualify them with the authors' assessment. Part 3 reviews the innovation and scaling challenges that must be addressed to realise NETs deployment as a viable climate mitigation strategy. Based on a systematic review of the literature, our best estimates for sustainable global NET potentials in 2050 are 0.5–3.6 GtCO2 yr-1 for afforestation and reforestation, 0.5–5 GtCO2 yr-1 for BECCS, 0.5–2 GtCO2 yr-1 for biochar, 2–4 GtCO2 yr-1 for enhanced weathering, 0.5–5 GtCO2 yr-1 for DACCS, and up to 5 GtCO2 yr-1 for soil carbon sequestration. Costs vary widely across the technologies, as do their permanency and cumulative potentials beyond 2050. It is unlikely that a single NET will be able to sustainably meet the rates of carbon uptake described in integrated assessment pathways consistent with 1.5°C of global warming.

  • G. F Nemet, M. W Callaghan, F. Creutzig, S. Fuss, J. Hartmann, J. Hilaire, W. F Lamb, J. C. Minx, S. Rogers, P. Smith (2018)
    Negative emissions: Part 3 - Innovation and upscaling

    Environmental Research Letters 13 063003 Abstract.

    We assess the literature on innovation and upscaling for negative emissions technologies (NETs) using a systematic and reproducible literature coding procedure. To structure our review, we employ the framework of sequential stages in the innovation process, with which we code each NETs article in innovation space. We find that while there is a growing body of innovation literature on NETs, 59% of the articles are focused on the earliest stages of the innovation process, 'research and development' (R&D). The subsequent stages of innovation are also represented in the literature, but at much lower levels of activity than R&D. Distinguishing between innovation stages that are related to the supply of the technology (R&D, demonstrations, scale up) and demand for the technology (demand pull, niche markets, public acceptance), we find an overwhelming emphasis (83%) on the supply side. BECCS articles have an above average share of demand-side articles while direct air carbon capture and storage has a very low share. Innovation in NETs has much to learn from successfully diffused technologies; appealing to heterogeneous users, managing policy risk, as well as understanding and addressing public concerns are all crucial yet not well represented in the extant literature. Results from integrated assessment models show that while NETs play a key role in the second half of the 21st century for 1.5°C and 2°C scenarios, the major period of new NETs deployment is between 2030 and 2050. Given that the broader innovation literature consistently finds long time periods involved in scaling up and deploying novel technologies, there is an urgency to developing NETs that is largely unappreciated. This challenge is exacerbated by the thousands to millions of actors that potentially need to adopt these technologies for them to achieve planetary scale. This urgency is reflected neither in the Paris Agreement nor in most of the literature we review here. If NETs are to be deployed at the levels required to meet 1.5°C and 2°C targets, then important post-R&D issues will need to be addressed in the literature, including incentives for early deployment, niche markets, scale-up, demand, and—particularly if deployment is to be hastened—public acceptance.

  • M. Kalkuhl, B. Fernandez Milan, G. Schwerhoff, M. Jakob, M. Hahnen, F. Creutzig (2018)
    Can land taxes foster sustainable development? An assessment of fiscal, distributional and implementation issues

    Land Use Policy Volume 78, November 2018, Pages 338-352 Abstract.

    Economists argue that land rent taxation is an ideal form of taxation as it causes no deadweight losses. Nevertheless, pure land rent taxation is rarely applied. This paper revisits the case of land taxation for developing countries. We first provide an up-to-date review on land taxation in development countries, including feasibility and implementation challenges. We then simulate land tax reforms for Rwanda, Peru, Nicaragua and Indonesia, based on household surveys. We find that (i) land taxes provide a substantial untapped potential for tax revenues at minimal deadweight losses; that (ii) linear land value taxes tend to put a high relative burden on poor households as land ownership is pervasive; (iii) non-linear tax schemes could avoid adverse effects on the poor; and that (iv) with technological advances, administrative costs of land taxes have reduced substantially and are outweighed by tax revenues and co-benefits of formalized land tenure. Enforcement and compliance remain, however, a key challenge.


  • F. Creutzig (2017)
    Govern land as a global commons

    Nature 546.7656: 28-29 Abstract.

    Felix Creutzig calls for international coordination of land use to ensure everyone has access to its fruits.

  • F. Creutzig, P. Agoston, J. C. Goldschmidt, G. Luderer, G. Nemet, R. Pietzcker (2017)
    The underestimated potential of solar energy to mitigate climate change

    Nature Energy 2:1714 Abstract.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report emphasizes the importance of bioenergy and carbon capture and storage for achieving climate goals, but it does not identify solar energy as a strategically important technology option. That is surprising given the strong growth, large resource, and low environmental footprint of photovoltaics (PV). Here we explore how models have consistently underestimated PV deployment and identify the reasons for underlying bias in mod- els. Our analysis reveals that rapid technological learning and technology-specific policy support were crucial to PV deployment in the past, but that future success will depend on adequate financing instruments and the management of system integration. We propose that with coordinated advances in multiple components of the energy system, PV could supply 30–50% of electric- ity in competitive markets.

  • S. Ahmad, S. Pachauri, F. Creutzig (2017)
    Synergies and trade-offs between energy-efficient urbanization and health

    Environmental Research Letters 12:114017 Abstract.

    Energy-efficient urbanization and public health pose major development challenges for India. While both issues are intensively studied, their interaction is not well understood. Here we explore the relationship between urban infrastructures, public health, and household-related emissions, identifying potential synergies and trade-offs of specific interventions by analyzing nationally representative household surveys from 2005 and 2012. Our analysis confirms previous characterizations of the environmental-health transition, but also points to an important role of energy use and urbanization as modifiers of this transition. We find that non-motorized transport may prove a sweet spot for development, as its use is associated with lower emissions and better public health in cities. Urbanization and improved access to basic services correlate with lower short-term morbidity (STM), such as fever, cough and diarrhea. Our analysis suggests that a 10% increase in urbanization from current levels and concurrent improvement in access to modern cooking and clean water could lower STM for 2.4 million people. This would be associated with a modest increase in electricity related emissions of 84ktCO2e annually. Promoting energy-efficient mobility systems, for instance by a 10% increase in bicycling, could lower chronic conditions like diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases for 0.3 million people while also abating emissions. These findings provide empirical evidence to validate that energy-efficient and sustainable urbanization can address both public health and climate change challenges simultaneously.

  • B. Fernandez Milan, F. Creutzig (2017)
    Lifting peripheral fortunes: Upgrading transit improves spatial, income and gender equity in Medellin

    Cities 70:122-134 Abstract.

    New transit development often try to provide low-carbon mobility, and improve accessibility. However, it is often unclear who profits most from new transit developments, whether these transit developments can improve equity, and if yes, in which dimensions. Here we study the change in quality of life, instrumentalised as perceived and measured social capital, socio-economic well-being, and quality of public infrastructure after transit developments in Medellin, Columbia. We make use of a detailed questionnaire of 187 questions from 2009 and 2012, aggregate responses into 14 indicators, and compare changes in quality of life between three transit developments zones (comunas), three non-intervention zones, and between income levels and gender. We find that equity improved overall across geographical zones, income, and gender, even as changes in specific quality of life dimensions varied. Our results demonstrate that well-designed transit interventions and participatory planning processes can make cities not only more climate friendly but also more equal

  • C. Bren d'Amour, F. Reitsma, G. Baiocchi, S. Barthel, B. Güneralp, K. Erb, H. Haberl, F. Creutzig (corresponding author), K. Seto (2017)
    Future urban land expansion and implications for global croplands

    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) doi: 10.1073/pnas.1606036114 Abstract.

    Urban expansion often occurs on croplands. However, there is little scientific understanding of how global patterns of future urban expansion will affect the world's cultivated areas. Here, we combine spatially explicit projections of urban expansion with datasets on global croplands and crop yields. Our results show that urban expansion will result in a 1.8-2.4% loss of global croplands by 2030, with substantial regional disparities. About 80% of global cropland loss from urban expansion will take place in Asia and Africa. In both Asia and Africa, much of the cropland that will be lost is more than twice as productive as national averages. Asia will experience the highest absolute loss in cropland, whereas African countries will experience the highest percentage loss of cropland. Globally, the croplands that are likely to be lost were responsible for 3-4% of worldwide crop production in 2000. Urban expansion is expected to take place on cropland that is 1.77 times more productive than the global average. The loss of cropland is likely to be accompanied by other sustainability risks and threatens livelihoods, with diverging characteristics for different megaurban regions. Governance of urban area expansion thus emerges as a key area for securing livelihoods in the agrarian economies of the Global South.

  • B. Knopf, S. Fuss, G. Hansen, F. Creutzig, J. Minx, O. Edenhofer(2017)
    From targets to action: rolling up our sleeves after Paris

    Global Challenges, in print Abstract.

    At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 ambitious targets for responding to the threat of climate change have been set: limiting global temperature increase to “well below 2 °C […] and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C”. However, calculating the CO2 budget for 1.5 °C, it becomes clear that there is nearly no room left for future emissions. Scenarios suggest that negative emission technologies will play an even more important role for 1.5 °C than they already play for 2 °C. Especially against this background the feasibility of the target(s) is hotly debated, but this debate does not initiate the next steps that are urgently needed. Already the negotiations have featured the move from targets to implementation which is needed in the coming decade. Most importantly, there is an urgent need to develop and implement instruments that incentivize the rapid decarbonization. Moreover, it needs to be worked out how to link the climate and development agenda and prevent a buildup of coal power causing lock-in effects. Short term entry points into climate policy should now be in the focus instead of the fruitless debate on the feasibility of targets.

  • D. Reckien, F. Creutzig, B. Fernandez, S. Lwasa, M. Tovar-Restrepo, D. McEvoy, D. Satterthwaite (2017)
    Climate Change, Equity and Sustainable Development Goals: An Urban Perspective

    Environment and Urbanization, in print Abstract.

    Climate change is acknowledged as the largest threat to our societies in the coming decades, affecting large and diverse groups of residents in urban areas in this century of urbanization. The focus of climate change impact discussions conceivably shifts to who in cities will be affected how by climate change, bringing the urban equity question to the forefront and co-aligning with a set of key Sustainable Development Goals. Here we assess how climate change events may amplify urban inequity. We find that heat waves, but also flooding, landslides, and even mitigation and adaptation measures affect specific population groups more than others. As underlying sensitivity factors we consistently identify ocioeconomic status and gender. We synthesize the findings with regard to equity types, meaning outcome, procedural and context-related equity, and suggest solutions for avoiding increased equity and justice concerns as a result of climate change impacts, adaptation and itigation.


  • F. Creutzig, P. Agoston, J. Minx, J. Canadell, R. Andrew, C. Le Quere, G. Peters, A. Sharifi, Y. Yamagate, S. Dhakal (2016)
    Urban infrastructure choices structure climate solutions

    Nature Climate Change 6:1054-1056 Abstract.

    Cities are becoming increasingly important in combatting climate change, but their overall role in global solution pathways remains unclear. Here we suggest structuring urban climate solutions along the use of existing and newly built infrastructures, providing estimates of the mitigation potential.

  • F. Creutzig, B. Fernandez, H. Haberl, R. Khosla, Y. Mulugetta, K. Seto. (2016)
    Beyond technology: Demand-Side Solutions to Climate Change Mitigation

    Annual Review of Environment and Ressources 41:173-198 Abstract.

    The assessment literature on climate change solutions to date has emphasized technologies and options based on cost-effectiveness analysis. However, many solutions to climate change mitigation misalign with such analytical frameworks. Here, we examine demand-side solutions, a crucial class of mitigation options that go beyond technological specification and cost-benefit analysis. To do so, we synthesize demand-side mitigation options in the urban, building, transport, and agricultural sectors. We also highlight the specific nature of demand-side solutions in the context of development. We then discuss key analytical considerations to integrate demand-side options into overarching assessments on mitigation. Such a framework would include infrastructure solutions that interact with endogenous preference formation. Both hard infrastructures, such as the built environment, and soft infrastructures, such as habits and norms, shape behavior and as a consequence offer significant potential for reducing overall energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. We conclude that systemic infrastructural and behavioral change will likely be a necessary component of a transition to a low-carbon society.

  • C. Bren d'Amour, L. Wenz, M. Kalkuhl, J. Steckel, F. Creutzig (2016)
    Teleconnected Food Supply Shocks

    Environmental Research Letters 11:035007 Abstract.

    The 2008-2010 food crisis might have been a harbinger of fundamental climate-induced food crises with geopolitical implications. Heat-wave-induced yield losses in Russia and resulting export restrictions led to increases in market prices for wheat across the Middle East, likely contributing to the Arab Spring. With ongoing climate change, temperatures and temperature variability will rise, leading to higher uncertainty in yields for major nutritional crops. Here we investigate which countries are most vulnerable to teleconnected supply-shocks, i.e. where diets strongly rely on the import of wheat, maize, or rice, and where a large share of the population is living in poverty. We find that the Middle East is most sensitive to teleconnected supply shocks in wheat, Central America to supply shocks in maize, and Western Africa to supply shocks in rice. Weighing with poverty levels, Sub-Saharan Africa is most affected. Altogether, a simultaneous 10% reduction in exports of wheat, rice, and maize would reduce caloric intake of 55 million people living in poverty by about 5%. Export bans in major producing regions would put up to 200 million people below the poverty line at risk, 90% of which live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our results suggest that a region-specific combination of national increases in agricultural productivity and diversification of trade partners and diets can effectively decrease future food security risks.

  • B. Fernandez, F. Creutzig (2016)
    Municipal policies accelerated urban sprawl and public debts in Spain

    Land Use Policy, 54, 203-116 Abstract.

    Urban form and resource consumption coevolve dynamically with public finances. While in compact urban settlements public service is provided more efficiently, and in larger amounts per surface area, sprawled developments often translate into larger marginal infrastructure investments, and into higher rates of consumption of resources per capita: land, raw materials, and transport fuels. Yet the relationship between municipal tax policies, rapid urban land consumption and municipal debts is poorly understood. In this paper we first scrutinize the relationship between urban sprawl and municipal deficits in Spain, and contextualize this development in the European situation. We then investigate statistically how urban economic drivers and municipal policies influence sprawling patterns, municipal debt and location values, demonstrating that local interventions jointly influence all three variables and that location value taxes can reduce both sprawl and debts. The linkages between local decisions and global land markets deserve further scrutiny.

  • B. Fernandez, D. Kapfer, F. Creutzig (2016)
    A systematic framework of location value taxes reveals dismal policy design in most European countries

    Land Use Policy, 51, 335-349 Abstract.

    Location values have long been recognized as an attractive instrument to raise municipal revenues. First, they increase fiscal efficiency and equability compared to traditional property taxes. Second, they can be used to enhance sustainable urban planning. The question of how to design a location value tax has long been discussed in various strands of literature, but there are few efforts to create multidisciplinary approaches. This lack of reconciliation hampers the discussion on optimal designs that includes all economic, social and environmental considerations. Here we combine literature on public finances, urban economics and value capture with that of sustainable urban planning to narrow this gap. We develop a framework to assess the design characteristics of location value taxes from a sustainability perspective, and apply this framework to assess current practices in Europe. The analysis reveals severe shortcoming in policy design in most European countries, although Denmark provides a more promising example. Nonetheless, location value taxes have a high potential for improving sustainable urban planning.

  • C. Robledo-Abad, C., H.J. Althaus, G. Berndes, S. Bolwig, E. Corbera, F. Creutzig, J. Garcia- Ulloa, A. Geddes, J. S. Gregg, H. Haberl, S. Hanger, R.J. Harper, C. Hunsberger, R. K. Larsen, Ch. Lauk, S. Leitner, J. Lilliestam, H. Lotze-Campen, B. Muys, M. Nordborg, M. Olund, B. Or- lowsky, A. Popp, J. Portugal-Pereira, J. Reinhard, L. Scheiffle, P. Smith (2016)
    Does bioenergy production affect sustainable development? Systematic review of scientific knowledge

    Global Change Biology - Bioenergy Abstract.

    to come...

  • F. Creutzig (2016)
    Evolving Narratives of Low-Carbon Futures in Transportation

    Transport Reviews doi: 10.1080/01441647.2015.1079277 Abstract.

    Scenarios of low-carbon transport demonstrate that a vast range of different outcomes is possible and contingent on policy, technology and cultural developments. But a closer look indicates that different schools of thought suggest possible pathways diverging in their fine structure. This perspective reveals how three different scientific communities - integrated assessment modelers, transport-sector modelers, and place-based modelers - emphasize distinct solution domains. While integrated assessment models focus on fuel composition, transport-sector models put slightly higher emphasis on efficiency measures; in turn place-based research specifies idiosyncratic behavior- al and infrastructural mitigation options that are likely to be beneficial in realizing local co-benefits. These specific local approaches could mitigate urban transport emissions by 20-50%, higher than that revealed in aggregate global models. We discuss differences in approach, possibilities for recon- ciliation, and the implications of normative assumptions. Targeted three-directional interactions would foster comprehensive understanding of possible low-carbon transportation futures.

  • P. Smith, S. Davis, F. Creutzig, S. Fuss, J. Minx, B. Gabrielle, E. Kato, R. B. Jackson, A. Cowie, E. Kriegler, D. van Vuuren, J. Rogelj, P. Ciais, J. Milne, J. Canadell, D. McCollum, G. Peters, R. Andrew, V. Krey, G. Shrestha, P. Friedlingstein, T. Gasser, A. Gruebler, W. Heidug, M. Jonas, C. Jones, F. Kraxner, E. Littleton, J. Lowe, J. Moreira, N. Nakicenovic, M. Obersteiner, A. Patwardhan, M. Rogner, E. Rubin, A. Sharifi, A. Torvanger, Y. Yamagata, J. Edmonds, C. Yongsung (2016)
    Biophysical and economic limits to negative CO2 emissions

    Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate2870 Abstract.

    To have a >50% chance of limiting warming below 2C, most recent scenarios from integrated assessment models (IAMs) require large-scale deployment of negative emissions technologies (NETs). These are technologies that result in the net removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. We quantify potential global impacts of the different NETs on various factors (such as land, greenhouse gas emissions, water, albedo, nutrients and energy) to determine the biophysical limits to, and economic costs of, their widespread application. Resource implications vary between technologies and need to be satisfactorily addressed if NETs are to have a significant role in achieving climate goals.


  • F. Creutzig, P. Jochem, O. Edelenbosch, L. Mattauch, D. P. van Vuuren, D. McCollum, J. Minx (2015)
    Transport: A Roadblock to Climate Change Mitigation?

    Science, 350(6263), 911-912 Abstract.

    Urban mobility solutions foster climate mitigation.

  • F. Creutzig (2015)
    Towards typologies of urban climate and global environmental change

    Environmental Research Letters 10(10), 101001 Abstract.

    The beauty of cities is that every city is different. From the homogenizing perspective of global environmental change that speaks trouble. We need an understanding of which kind of cities can contribute what kind of measures to mitigate and adapt to global environmental change. Typologies of cities offer a bridge between the idiosyncratic and the global. Bounoua, Zhang et al. (2015) analyse the impact of urbanization on surface climate. We discuss their results and suggest avenues for further systematic analysis.

  • L. Mattauch, F. Creutzig, O. Edenhofer (2015)
    Avoiding Carbon Lock-In: Policy Options for Advancing Structural Change

    Economic Modelling 50:49-63 Abstract.

    An obstacle for the transformation to a low-carbon economy is the carbon lock-in: fossil fuel-based ('dirty') technologies dominate the market although their carbon-free ('clean') alternatives are dynamically more efficient. We study the interaction of learning-by-doing spillovers with the substitution elasticity between a clean and a dirty sector to evaluate the robustness of policies averting the carbon lock-in. We find that the substitution possibilities between the two sectors have an ambivalent effect: although a high substitution elasticity requires less aggressive mitigation policies than a low one, it creates a greater welfare loss through the lock-in in the absence of regulation. The socially optimal policy response consists of a permanent carbon tax as well as a learning subsidy for clean technologies. We thus indicate that the policy implications of (Acemoglu, D., Aghion, P., Bursztyn, L., Hemous, D., 2012. The Environment and Directed Technical Change. American Economic Review 120 (1): 131-166), calling for merely temporary interventions based on the mechanism of directed technical change in the same setting, are limited in scope. Our results also highlight that infrastructure provision is crucial to facilitate the low-carbon transformation.

  • S. Ahmad, G. Baiocchi, F. Creutzig (2015)
    CO2 Emissions from Direct Energy Use of Urban Households in India

    Environmental Science Technology 49(19), 11312-11320 Abstract.

    India hosts the world's second largest population and offers the world's largest potential for urbanization. India's urbanization trajectory will have crucial implications on its future GHG emission levels. Using micro household data of India's 60 largest cities, this study maps GHG emissions patterns and its determinants. It also ranks the cities with respect to their household actual and 'counter factual' GHG emissions from direct energy use. We find that household GHG emissions from direct energy use correlate strongly with income and household size; basic urban services - municipal water, electricity and modern cooking-fuels access -, cultural, religious and social factors explain more detailed emission patterns. We find that the 'greenest' cities based on household GHG emissions are Bareilly and Allahabad, while the 'dirtiest' cities are Chennai, and Delhi, however, when we control for socio-economic variables the ranking changes drastically. In the control case, we find that smaller lower-income cities emit more than expected, and larger high-income cities emit less than expected in terms of counter factual emissions. Emissions from India's cities are similar in magnitude to China's cities, but typically much lower than comparable US cities. Our results indicate that reducing urban heat island effects and associated cooling degree days by greening, switching to modern non-solid cooking fuels and anticipatory transport infrastructure investments are key policies for low-carbon and inclusive development of Indian cities.

  • B. Fernandez, F. Creutzig (2015)
    Reducing urban heat wave risk in the 21st century

    Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 14:221-231 Abstract.

    Global warming increases the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves, particularly endangering urban populations. However, the health risks of heat waves are distributed unequally between people because of intrinsic person-specific characteristics and extrinsic factors. The confluence of forecasted urbanisation and projected heat wave increase necessitates the identification of strategies that both lower the overall health impact and narrow the gap in risk distribution within urban populations. Here, we review the literature on vulnerability to heat, highlighting the factors that affect such distribution. As a key lesson we find that the literature strands on public health, risk reduction and urban planning all contribute to the identification of alleviation options for urban heat wave health impacts, but that they are rarely jointly evaluated. On the basis of the literature review, we suggest a common framework. We also evaluate response measures in addressing total and distributed risks. We find that person- specific risk is effectively addressed by public health and risk reduction intervention, while intra-urban variations of extrinsic factors can be efficiently tackled with urban planning, both in scale and scope.

  • S. Lohrey, F. Creutzig (2015)
    A Sustainability Window of Urban Form

    Transport Research D doi:10.1016/j.trd.2015.09.004 Abstract.

    With global environmental change and the rise of global megacities, environmental and social externalities of urban systems, and especially of urban form, become increasingly prevalent. The question of optimal urban form has been debated and investigated by different disciplines in numerous contexts, including those of transport costs, land consumption and congestion. Here we elucidate theoretically how urban form and the urban transport system systematically modifies sustainability concerns, such as greenhouse gas emissions, local air pollution and congestion. We illustrate our analytical considerations with empirical analysis. Denser urban form would almost unambiguously mitigate climate change, but it would also lead to undesired effects, such as a higher proportion of urban dwellers affected by air pollution. Our study presents a sustainability window by highlighting trade-offs between these sustainability concerns as a function of urban form. Only a combination of transportation policies, infrastructure investments and progressive public finance enables the development of cities that perform well in several sustainability dimensions. We estimate that a residential population density between 50 and 150 persons/ha and a modal share of environmental modes above at least 50% corresponds to the sustainability window of urban form. The parameters of the sustainability window of urban form is subject to policy changes and technological progress.

  • L. Mattauch, M. Ridgeway, F. Creutzig (2015)
    Happy or Liberal? Making sense of behavior in transport policy design

    Transport Research D doi:10.1016/j.trd.2015.08.006 Abstract.

    Appropriate microeconomic foundations of mobility are decisive for successful policy design in transportation and, in particular, for the challenge of climate change mitigation. Recent research suggests that behavior in transportation cannot be adequately represented by the standard approach of revealed preferences. Moreover, mobility choices are influenced by factors widely regarded as normatively irrelevant. Here we draw on insights from behavioral economics, psychology and welfare theory to examine how transport users make mobility decisions and when it is desirable to modify them through policy interventions. First, we explore systematically which preferences, heuristics and decision processes are relevant for mobility-specific behavior, such as mode choice. We highlight the influence infrastructure has on the formation of travel preferences. Second, we argue that the behavioral account of decision-making requires policy-makers to take a position on whether transport policies should be justified by appealing to preference satisfaction or to raising subjective well-being. This distinction matters because of the (i) influence of infrastructure on preference formation, (ii) health benefits from non-motorized mobility, (iii) negative impact of commuting on happiness and (iv) status-seeking behavior of individuals. The orthodox approach of only internalizing externalities is insufficient because it does not allow for the evaluation of these effects. Instead, our analysis suggests that transport demand modeling should consider behavioral effects explicitly.

  • D. Balk, A. Bigio, C. G. Boone, F. Creutzig, M. Fragkias, P. Romero-Lankao, S. Lwasa, P. Marcotullio, K. C. Seto, W. Solecki, T. Zwickel (2015)
    A Conceptual Framework for an Urban Areas Typology to Integrate Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

    Urban Climate doi:101016/j.uclim.2015.07.001 Abstract.

    The recent Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC presents a clear indication of the how the conditions of climate adaptation and mitigation still operate largely in separate worlds - both intellectually and operationally. The objective of this paper is to actively focus on the opportunities for promoting more connection between climate change adaptation and mitigation in urban areas, and with specific focus on the definition and articulation of a typology tool designed to investigate climate vulnerability and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) contexts of individual cities or sets of cities.

  • F. Creutzig, G. Baiocchi, R. Bierkandt, P. Pichler, K. Seto (2015)
    Global typology of urban energy use and potentials for an urbanization mitigation wedge

    PNAS 112:6283: 6288 Supporting Information Abstract.

    The aggregate potential for urban mitigation of global climate change is insufficiently understood. Our analysis, using a dataset of 274 cities representing all city sizes and regions worldwide, demonstrates that economic activity, transport costs, geographic factors, and urban form explain 37% of urban direct energy use and 88% of urban transport energy use. If current trends in urban expansion continue, urban energy use will increase more than threefold, from 240 EJ in 2005 to 730 EJ in 2050. Our model shows that urban planning and transport policies can limit the future increase in urban energy use to 540 EJ in 2050 and contribute to mitigating climate change. However, effective policies for reducing urban greenhouse gas emissions differ with city type. The results show that, for affluent and mature cities, higher gasoline prices combined with compact urban form can result in savings in both residential and transport energy use. In contrast, for developing-country cities with emerging or nascent infrastructures, compact urban form, and transport planning can encourage higher population densities and subsequently avoid lock-in of high carbon emission patterns for travel. The results underscore a significant potential urbanization wedge for reducing energy use in rapidly urbanizing Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

    For media coverage see here.
  • G. Baiocchi, F. Creutzig, J. Minx, P.-P. Pichler (2015)
    A Spatial Typology of Human Settlements and their CO2 Emissions in England

    Global Environmental Change 34:13-21 Abstract.

    Case studies demonstrate that urban greenhouse gas emissions are driven by socio-economic, climatic and urban-form specific characteristics. But neither the interdependence between attributes nor their place-specific context has been well understood. In this paper, we develop a nested typology of human settlements in England, containing both urban and rural environments, that is based on local drivers of emissions from direct energy use in nearly 7000 local areas. We reject the standard hypothesis that settlements obey a global linear model explaining emissions. The emissions of human settlement types are characterized by unique, place-specific combinations of emission drivers. We find that density and income are dominant classifiers of local carbon dioxide emissions. However, their specific impacts are particular to human settlement types as characterized by the place-specific combination of income, household size, and local climate, which are themselves spatially contextualized. Our typology strongly correlates with the geographic distribution of lifestyles. Average household carbon dioxide emissions are highest for very high income households (top 3%) living in low-density settlement areas with large houses, mostly concentrated in outer suburbs. Our results provide a first step towards enabling decision makers to go beyond one-size-fits-all approaches but instead to apply appropriate and specific mitigating measures for each type of human settlement. In turn, successful strategies could be transferred between similar types of human settlements.

  • O. Edenhofer, M. Jakob, F. Creutzig, C. Flachsland, S. Fuss, M. Kowarsch, K. Lessmann, L. Mattauch, J. Siegmeier, J. C. Steckel (2015)
    Closing the Emission Price Gap

    Global Environmental Change 31:132-143 Abstract.

    Even without internationally concerted action on climate change mitigation, there are important incentives for countries to put a price on their domestic emissions, including public finance considerations, internalizing the climate impacts of their own emissions, and co-benefits, such as clean air or energy security. Whereas these arguments have been mostly discussed in separate strands of literature, this article carries out a synthesis that exemplifies how policies to put a price on emissions can be conceptualized in a multi-objective framework. Despite considerable uncertainty, empirical evidence suggests that different countries may face quite different incentives for emission pricing. For instance, avoided climate damages and co-benefits of reduced air pollution appear to be the main motivation for emission pricing in China, while for the US generating public revenue dominates and for the EU all three motivations are of intermediate importance. We finally argue that such unilateral incentives could form the basis for incremental progress in international climate negotiations toward a realistic climate treaty based on national interest and differentiated emission pricing and describe how such an agreement could be put into practice.


  • F. Creutzig (2014)
    How fuel prices determine public transport infrastructure, modal shares and urban form

    Urban Climate 10:63-76 Abstract.

    Urban form and transportation infrastructure mutually influence each other. For example, dense Hong Kong is served by a viable and efficient public transit network, whereas many sprawled US cities are best served with automobiles. Here we present a simple model of a mono-centric city with two modes, public transit and automobiles, and transport infrastructure investments. The contribution to the literature is two-fold. First, adding to urban economic theory, we analyze how public transport costs are endogenously determined by fuel price and urban form if an urban planner provides the infrastructure. But a private mass transport provider would underinvest into public transport infrastructure. Second, adding to the ongoing discussion on urban transport and energy use, this two-modal model can help to explain empirical observations on urban form, transport CO2 emissions and modal share, emphasizing the causal role of transport costs for urban form. The results encourage further research in the economics of sustainable and energy-efficient cities.

  • F. Creutzig (2014)
    Economic and ecological views on climate change mitigation with bioenergy and negative emissions

    Global Change Biology Bioenergy Abstract.

    Climate stabilization scenarios emphasize the importance of land-based mitigation to achieve ambitious mitigation goals. The stabilization scenarios informing the recent IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report suggest that bioenergy could contribute anywhere between 10 and 245 EJ to climate change mitigation in 2100. High deployment of bioenergy with low life-cycle GHG emissions would enable ambitious climate stabilization futures and reduce demands on other sectors and options. Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) would even enable so-called negative emissions, possibly in the order of magnitude of 50% of today's annual gross emissions. Here I discuss key assumptions that differ between economic and ecological perspectives. I find that high future yield assumptions, plausible in stabilization scenarios, look less realistic when evaluated in biophysical metrics. Yield assumptions also determine the magnitude of counterfactual land carbon stock development and partially determine the potential of BECCS. High fertilizer input required for high yields would likely hasten ecosystem degradation. I conclude that land-based mitigation strategies remain highly speculative; a constant iteration between synoptic integrated assessment models and more particularistic and fine-grained approaches is a crucial precondition for capturing complex dynamics and biophysical constraints that are essential for comprehensive assessments.

  • F. Creutzig, M. Hedahl, J. Rydge, K. Szulecki (2014)
    Challenging the European Climate Debate: Can Universal Climate Justice and Economics be Reconciled with Particularistic Politics?

    Global Policy 5:6-14 Abstract.

    Researchers from various disciplines have built impressive but distinct compendia on climate change; the defining challenge for humanity. In the spirit of Lord Dahrendorf, this paper represents the output of interdisciplinary collaboration and integrates state-of-the-art academic expertise from the fields of philosophy, economics and governance. Our focus is on Europe, which is widely perceived as a leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation. However, leadership weakness on climate over recent years, largely due to recession and political vacillation, is eroding this perception. What is needed is a firm justification for strong climate action, acknowledgement of the available tools, awareness of the reasons for our failures to date, and a realistic, but goal-oriented strategy for an integrated climate policy. We therefore present current normative insights from climate justice research highlighting the need to make institutions responsive to those most vulnerable; we discuss the economics of the transition to a low-carbon economy, pointing to key policy instruments and post-2020 climate targets for the EU; we contrast the normative and quantitative synoptic principles with the particularistic implementation schemes and politics of (not) implementing measures on the ground; and we suggest a careful coordination of European climate policies with acute challenges that could increase both climate justice and political feasibility.

  • F. Creutzig, N.H. Ravindranath, G. Berndes, S. Bolwig, R. Bright, F. Cherubini, H. Chum, E. Corbera, M. Delucchi, A. Faaij, J. Fargione, H. Haberl, G. Heath, O. Lucon, R. Plevin, A. Popp, C. Robledo-Abad, S. Rose, P. Smith, A. Stromman, S. Suh, O. Masera (2014)
    Bioenergy and climate change mitigation: an assessment

    Global Change Biology Bioenergy 7:916-944 Abstract.

    Bioenergy deployment offers significant potential for climate change mitigation, but also carries considerable risks. In this review, we bring together perspectives of various communities involved in the research and regulation of bioenergy deployment in the context of climate change mitigation: Land-use and energy experts, land-use and integrated assessment modelers, human geographers, ecosystem researchers, climate scientists and two different strands of life-cycle assessment experts. We summarize technological options, outline the state-of-the-art knowledge on various climate effects, provide an update on estimates of technical resource potential and comprehensively identify sustainability effects. Cellulosic feedstocks, increased end-use efficiency, improved land carbon-stock management and residue use, and, when fully developed, BECCS appear as the most promising options, depending on development costs, implementation, learning, and risk management. Combined heat and power, efficient biomass cookstoves and small-scale power generation for rural areas can help to promote energy access and sustainable development, along with reduced emissions. We estimate the sustainable technical potential as up to 100 EJ: high agreement; 100-300 EJ: medium agreement; above 300 EJ: low agreement. Stabilization scenarios indicate that bioenergy may supply from 10 to 245 EJ per year to global primary energy supply by 2050. Models indicate that, if technological and governance preconditions are met, large-scale deployment (>200 EJ), together with BECCS, could help to keep global warming below 2 degrees of preindustrial levels; but such high deployment of land-intensive bioenergy feedstocks could also lead to detrimental climate effects, negatively impact ecosystems, biodiversity and livelihoods. The integration of bioenergy systems into agriculture and forest landscapes can improve land and water use efficiency and help address concerns about environmental impacts. We conclude that the high variability in pathways, uncertainties in technological development and ambiguity in political decision render forecasts on deployment levels and climate effects very difficult. However, uncertainty about projections should not preclude pursuing beneficial bioenergy options.

  • F. Creutzig, J. C. Goldschmidt, P. Lehmann, E. Schmid, F. v. Bluecher, C. Breyer, B. Fernandez, M. Jakob, B. Knopf, S. Lohrey, T. Susca, K. Wiegandt (2014)
    Catching two European birds with one renewable stone: Mitigating climate change and Eurozone crisis by an energy transition

    Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 38:1015-1028 Abstract.

    The threat of climate change and other risks for ecosystems and human health require a transition of the energy system from fossil fuels towards renewable energies and higher efficiency. The European geographical periphery, and specifically Southern Europe, has considerable potential for renewable energies. At the same time it is also stricken by high levels of public debt and unemployment, and struggles with austerity policies as consequences of the Eurozone crisis. Modeling studies find a broad optimum when searching for a cost-optimal deployment of renewable energy installations. This allows for the consideration of additional policy objectives. Simultaneously, economists argue for an increase in public expenditure to compensate for the slump in private investments and to provide economic stimulus. This paper combines these two perspectives. We assess the potential for renewable energies in the European periphery, and highlight relevant costs and barriers for a large-scale transition to a renewable energy system. We find that a European energy transition with a high-level of renewable energy installations in the periphery could act as an economic stimulus, decrease trade deficits, and possibly have positive employment effects. Our analysis also suggests that country-specific conditions and policy frameworks require member state policies to play a leading role in fostering an energy transition. This notwithstanding, a stronger European-wide coordination of regulatory frameworks and supportive funding schemes would leverage country-specific action. Renewed solidarity could be the most valuable outcome of a commonly designed and implemented European energy transition.

  • I. Linkov, T. Bridges, F. Creutzig, J. Decker, C. Fox-Lent, W. Kröger, J. H. Lambert, A. Levermann, B. Montreuil, J. Nathwani, R. Nyer, O. Renn, B. Scharte, A. Scheffler, M. Schreurs, T. Thiel-Clemen (2014)
    Changing the Resilience Paradigm

    Nature Climate Change 4:407-409 Abstract.

    Resilience management goes beyond risk management to address the complexities of large integrated systems and the uncertainty of future threats, especially those associated with climate change.

  • R. Plevin, M. Delucchi, F. Creutzig (2014)
    Using Attributional Life Cycle Assessment to Estimate Climate-Change Mitigation Benefits Misleads Policy Makers

    Journal of Industrial Ecology 18(1):73-83 Abstract.

    Life cycle assessment (LCA) is generally described as a tool for environmental decision making. Results from attributional LCA (ALCA), the most commonly used LCA method, often are presented in a way that suggests that policy decisions based on these results will yield the quantitative benefits estimated by ALCA. For example, ALCAs of biofuels are routinely used to suggest that the implementation of one alternative (say, a biofuel) will cause an X% change in greenhouse gas emissions, compared with a baseline (typically gasoline). However, because of several simplifications inherent in ALCA, the method, in fact, is not predictive of real-world impacts on climate change, and hence the usual quantitative interpretation of ALCA results is not valid. A conceptually superior approach, consequential LCA (CLCA), avoids many of the limitations of ALCA, but because it is meant to model actual changes in the real world, CLCA results are scenario dependent and uncertain. These limitations mean that even the best practical CLCAs cannot produce definitive quantitative estimates of actual environmental outcomes. Both forms of LCA, however, can yield valuable insights about potential environmental effects, and CLCA can support robust decision making. By openly recognizing the limitations and understanding the appropriate uses of LCA as discussed here, practitioners and researchers can help policy makers implement policies that are less likely to have perverse effects and more likely to lead to effective environmental policies, including climate mitigation strategies.

    This article started a lively controversy about the use and misuse of ALCA and CLCA methods, including letters to the editor by E. Hertwich, by B.E. Dale and S. Kim, and by M. Brandao, R. Clift, A. Cowie and S. Greenhalgh in the Journal of Industrial Ecology. We used the opportunity to further clarify our messages in our response. In addition, S. Suh and Y. Yang wrote a more lengthy commentary in the Int. J. Life Cycle Assess, notable inter alia for quoting Foucault, who quotes Borges, who quotes a "certain Chinese encyclopedia". Nonetheless, we responded again to clarify misunderstandings.

  • C. Hunsberger, S. Bolwig, E. Corbera, F. Creutzig (2014)
    Livelihood impacts of biofuel crop production: Implications for governance

    Geoforum 54:248-260 Abstract.

    While much attention has focused on the climate change mitigation potential of biofuels, research from the social sciences increasingly highlights the social and livelihood impacts of their expanded production. Policy and governance measures aimed at improving the social effects of biofuels have proliferated but questions remain about their effectiveness across the value chain. This paper performs three tasks building on emerging insights from social science research on the deployment of biofuel crops. First, we identify livelihood dimensions that are particularly likely to be affected by their cultivation in the global South – income, food security, access to land-based resources, and social assets – revealing that distributional effects are crucial to evaluating the outcomes of biofuel production across these dimensions. Second, we ask how well selected biofuel governance mechanisms address livelihood and equity concerns. Third, we draw insights from literature on non-energy agricultural value chains to provide one set of ideas for improving livelihood outcomes. Our analysis demonstrates that biofuel policies treat livelihoods as a second-degree problem, specifying livelihoods as an afterthought to other goals. We suggest integrating livelihoods into a multi-criteria policy framework from the start – one that prioritizes equity issues as well as overall outcomes. We also show that the instruments with strongest provisions for safeguarding livelihoods and equity appear least likely to be implemented. Together, shifting both the priorities and the relative hierarchy of biofuel governance instruments could help produce strategies that more effectively address livelihood and equity concerns.


  • F. Creutzig, E. Corbera, S. Bolwig, C. Hunsberger (2013)
    Integrating place-specific livelihood and equity outcomes into global assessments of bioenergy deployment

    Environmental Research Letters 8:035047 Abstract.

    Integrated assessment models suggest that the large-scale deployment of bioenergy could contribute to ambitious climate change mitigation efforts. However, such a shift would intensify the global competition for land, with possible consequences for 1.5 billion smallholder livelihoods that these models do not consider. Maintaining and enhancing robust livelihoods upon bioenergy deployment is an equally important sustainability goal that warrants greater attention. The social implications of biofuel production are complex, varied and place-specific, difficult to model, operationalize and quantify. However, a rapidly developing body of social science literature is advancing the understanding of these interactions. In this letter we link human geography research on the interaction between biofuel crops and livelihoods in developing countries to integrated assessments on biofuels. We review case-study research focused on first-generation biofuel crops to demonstrate that food, income, land and other assets such as health are key livelihood dimensions that can be impacted by such crops and we highlight how place-specific and global dynamics influence both aggregate and distributional outcomes across these livelihood dimensions. We argue that place-specific production models and land tenure regimes mediate livelihood outcomes, which are also in turn affected by global and regional markets and their resulting equilibrium dynamics. The place-specific perspective suggests that distributional consequences are a crucial complement to aggregate outcomes; this has not been given enough weight in comprehensive assessments to date. By narrowing the gap between place-specific case studies and global models, our discussion offers a route towards integrating livelihood and equity considerations into scenarios of future bioenergy deployment, thus contributing to a key challenge in sustainability sciences.

  • J. Minx, G. Baiocchi, T. Wiedmann, J. Barret, F. Creutzig, K. Feng, M. Förster, P.-P. Pichler, H. Weisz, K. Hubacek (2013)
    Carbon footprints of cities and other human settlements in the UK

    Environmental Research Letters 8:035039 Abstract.

    A growing body of literature discusses the CO2 emissions of cities. Still, little is known about emission patterns across density gradients from remote rural places to highly urbanized areas, the drivers behind those emission patterns and the global emissions triggered by consumption in human settlements—referred to here as the carbon footprint. In this letter we use a hybrid method for estimating the carbon footprints of cities and other human settlements in the UK explicitly linking global supply chains to local consumption activities and associated lifestyles. This analysis comprises all areas in the UK, whether rural or urban. We compare our consumption-based results with extended territorial CO2 emission estimates and analyse the driving forces that determine the carbon footprint of human settlements in the UK. Our results show that 90% of the human settlements in the UK are net importers of CO2 emissions. Consumption-based CO2 emissions are much more homogeneous than extended territorial emissions. Both the highest and lowest carbon footprints can be found in urban areas, but the carbon footprint is consistently higher relative to extended territorial CO2 emissions in urban as opposed to rural settlement types. The impact of high or low density living remains limited; instead, carbon footprints can be comparatively high or low across density gradients depending on the location-specific socio-demographic, infrastructural and geographic characteristics of the area under consideration. We show that the carbon footprint of cities and other human settlements in the UK is mainly determined by socio-economic rather than geographic and infrastructural drivers at the spatial aggregation of our analysis. It increases with growing income, education and car ownership as well as decreasing household size. Income is not more important than most other socio-economic determinants of the carbon footprint. Possibly, the relationship between lifestyles and infrastructure only impacts carbon footprints significantly at higher spatial granularity.

  • O. Edenhofer, K. Seyboth, F. Creutzig, S. Schlömer (2013)
    On the Sustainability of Renewable Energy Sources

    Annual Review of Environment and Resources 38:169-200 Abstract.

    This article examines renewable energy (RE) technologies in a multiple-objective framework of sustainable development. We begin by locating RE in a portfolio of options available for climate change mitigation. Observing current trends in technologies, deployment levels, and costs, we discuss the future deployment levels envisioned in mitigation scenarios. We focus on biomass, given its importance in climate mitigation scenarios and because of the ongoing debates about its role in sustainability objectives. We also examine trends and successes in RE support policies. We conclude by linking the multiple objectives of sustainability to multiple policy instruments, emphasizing the need to closely consider the interaction between different policy instruments incentivizing sustainable development.

  • L. Mattauch, J. Siegmeier, O. Edenhofer, F. Creutzig (2013)
    Financing Public Capital through Land Rent Taxation: A Macroeconomic Henry George Theorem

    CESIFO WORKING PAPER NO. 4280 Abstract.

    Financing productive public capital through distortionary taxes typically creates a trade-off: the optimal investment is determined as a compromise between efficiency-enhancing public investment and perturbing market efficiency, but is never socially optimal. In contrast, such a trade-off can often be avoided if public capital is financed by taxing rents of a fixed production factor, such as land. Here, we provide a macroeconomic version of the Henry George Theorem. Specifically, we prove that the socially optimal level of the public capital stock can be reached by a land rent tax, provided land is a more important production factor than public capital.

  • A. Baur, M. Thess, B. Kleinschmit, F. Creutzig (2013)
    Urban Climate Change Mitigation in Europe -- Looking At and Beyond the Role of Population Density

    J. Urban Plann. Dev., 10.1061 Abstract.

    As climate change mitigation becomes pervasive on all spatial scales, mitigation options related to urban spatial planning and behavioral change become increasingly important. As transport energy consumption seems to scale inversely with population density, increased attention focuses on the role of urban form. In this study, the authors specifically analyze the importance of population density for the reduction of urban greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. For this, drivers of both CO2 emissions from transport (for 134 cities), as well as total urban greenhouse gas emissions (CO2eq emissions) of 62 cities across Europe are investigated. Results indicate that population density is not, per se, a strong determinant of greenhouse gas emissions in European cities. Crucially, the authors find that the spatial scale of the analysis matters and that national influences modulate CO2eq emissions in the analyzed urban areas. Results show that greenhouse gas emissions of European urbanites increase significantly with decreasing household sizes and increasing personal wealth. while the results are bound by data quality, it is assumed that also the relative similarity of European cities is leading to a lesser degree of importance of population density with respect to climate change mitigation in the analysis. The results further encourage more thorough analyses of the role of household size and personal wealth for effective climate change mitigation and additional spatially explicit econometric studies and detailed, city-specific causal models of urban areas.

  • F. Creutzig, L. Mattauch (2013)
    Book Review -- Beyond GDP: Measuring Welfare and Assessing Sustainability, Marc Fleurbaey, Didier Blanchet. Oxford University Press Inc. (2013)

    Ecological Economics 94:164:165


  • F. Creutzig, R. Mühlhoff, J. Römer (2012)
    Decarbonizing urban transport in European cities: four cases show possibly high co-benefits

    Environ. Res. Lett. 7 044042 Abstract.

    Cities worldwide are increasingly becoming agents of climate change mitigation, while simultaneously aiming for other goals, such as improved accessibility and clean air. Based on stakeholder interviews and data analysis, we assess the current state of urban mobility in the four European cities of Barcelona, Malmö, Sofia and Freiburg. We then provide scenarios of increasingly ambitious policy packages, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from urban transport by up to 80% from 2010 to 2040. We find significant concurrent co-benefits in cleaner air, reduced noise ambience, fewer traffic-related injuries and deaths, more physical activity, less congestion and monetary fuel savings. Our scenarios suggest that non-motorized transport, especially bicycles, can occupy high modal shares, particularly in cities with less than 0.5 million inhabitants. We think that this kind of multi-criteria assessment of social costs and benefits is a useful complement to cost–benefit analysis of climate change mitigation measures.

  • F. Creutzig, A. Popp, R. Plevin, G. Luderer, J. Minx, O. Edenhofer (2012)
    Reconciling top-down and bottom-up modeling on future bioenergy deployment.

    Nature Climate Change 2: 320-327 Abstract.

    The IPCC's Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) assesses the role of bioenergy as a solution to meeting energy demand in a climate-constrained world. Based on integrated assessment models, the SRREN states that deployed bioenergy systems will contribute the highest proportion of primary energy among renewable energies and result in GHG emission reductions. The Report also acknowledges insights on life-cycle emissions from biofuels. But the SRREN fails to reconcile results on indirect land-use change in inductive bottom-up studies, such as life-cycle analyses, and deductive top-down assessment.

  • F. Creutzig, C. v. Stechow, D. Klein, C. Hunsberger, N. Bauer, A. Popp, O. Edenhofer (2012)
    Can Bioenergy Assessments Deliver?

    Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy 1(2): 65-82 Abstract.

    The role of biomass as a primary energy resource is highly debated. Next generation biofuels are suggested to be associated with low specific greenhouse gas emissions. But land consumption, demand for scarce water, competition with food production and harmful indirect land-use effects put a question mark over the beneficial effects of bioenergy deployment. In this paper, we investigate the current state of bioenergy assessments and scrutinize the topics and perspectives explored in the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change. We suggest that an appropriate assessment requires a comprehensive literature review, the explicit exposition of disparate viewpoints, and exploration of policy-relevant content based on plausible 'storylines'. We illustrate these storylines with the IPCC's emission scenarios and point out routes to improve assessment making on the future role of bioenergy.

  • P. Lehmann, F. Creutzig, M.-H. Ehlers, N. Friedrichsen, C. Heuson, L. Hirth, R. Pietzcker (2012)
    Carbon Lock-Out: Advancing Renewable Energy Policy in Europe.

    Energies 5: 323-354 Abstract.

    As part of its climate strategy, the EU aims at increasing the share of electricity from renewable energy sources (RES-E) in overall electricity generation. Attaining this target poses a considerable challenge as the electricity sector is 'locked' into a carbon-intensive system, which hampers the adoption of RES-E technologies. Electricity generation, transmission and distribution grids as well as storage and demand response are subject to important path dependences, which put existing, non-renewable energy sources at an advantage. This paper examines how an EU framework for RES-E support policies should be designed to facilitate a carbon lock-out. For this purpose, we specify the major technological, economic and institutional barriers to RES-E. For each of the barriers, a policy review is carried out which assesses the performance of existing policy instruments and identifies needs for reform. The review reveals several shortcomings: while policies targeting generation are widely in place, measures to address barriers associated with electricity grids, storage and demand are still in their infancy and have to be extended. Moreover, the implementation of policies has been fragmented across EU Member States. In this respect, national policies should be embedded into an integrated EU-wide planning of the RES-E system with overarching energy scenarios and partially harmonized policy rules.

  • F. Creutzig, E. McGlynn, J. Minx, O. Edenhofer (2011)
    Climate policies for road transport revisited (I): Evaluation of the current framework.

    Energy Policy 39(5): 2396-2406 Abstract.

    The global rise of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and its potentially devastating consequences require a comprehensive regulatory framework for reducing emissions, including those from the transport sector. Alternative fuels and technologies have been promoted as a means for reducing the carbon intensity of the transport sector. However, the overall transport policy framework in major world economies is geared towards the use of conventional fossil fuels. This paper evaluates the effectiveness and efficiency of current climate policies for road transport that (1) target fuel producers and/or car manufacturers, and (2) influence use of alternative fuels and technologies. With diversifying fuel supply chains, carbon intensity of fuels and energy efficiency of vehicles cannot be regulated by a single instrument. We demonstrate that vehicles are best regulated across all fuels in terms of energy per distance. We conclude that price-based policies and a cap on total emissions are essential for alleviating rebound effects and perverse incentives of fuel efficiency standards and low carbon fuel standards. In tandem with existing policy tools, cap and price signal policies incentivize all emissions reduction options. Design and effects of cap and trade in the transport sector are investigated in the companion article (Flachsland et al., in this issue).

  • C. Flachsland, S. Brunner, O. Edenhofer, F. Creutzig (2011)
    Climate policies for road transport revisited (II): Closing the policy gap with cap-and-trade.

    Energy Policy 39(4): 2100-2110 Abstract.

    Current policies in the road transport sector fail to deliver consistent and efficient incentives for greenhouse gas abatement (see companion article by Creutzig et al., in press). Market-based instruments such as cap-and-trade systems close this policy gap and complement traditional policies that are required where specific market failures arise. Even in presence of strong existing non-market policies, cap-and-trade delivers additional abatement and efficiency by incentivizing demand side abatement options. This paper analyzes generic design options and economic impacts of including the European road transport sector into the EU ETS. Suitable points of regulation are up- and midstream in the fuel chain to ensure effectiveness (cover all emissions and avoid double-counting), efficiency (incentivize all abatement options) and low transaction costs. Based on year 2020 marginal abatement cost curves from different models and current EU climate policy objectives we show that in contrast to conventional wisdom, road transport inclusion would not change the EU ETS allowance price. Hence, industrial carbon leakage induced by adding road transport to the EU ETS may be less important than previously estimated.

  • F. Creutzig, M. Thess, J. Zhou, M. Replogle (2011)
    Trapped in tremendous congestion - Can Beijing find a road towards harmonious and sustainable transport?

    The Journal of Urban Transport of China, 9(2) Abstract.

    Beijing's congestion and air pollution is infamous among local residents and visitors. While rising car ownership demonstrates increased material well-being, and is a show-case of the Chinese economic miracle, car driving in the dense urban fabric of Beijing deteriorates the efficiency of transport, local public health and quality of life, and contributes to human-made global warming. The social disbenefits of significantly increased use of cars in Beijing most likely outweighs the benefits of increased driving. Beijing municipal authorities are clearly aware of this challenge, and many policy instruments are being implemented to reduce the burden of car traffic for residents and transport users alike. While partial improvements are visible, current measures have not been sufficient to manage growing transport demand. Absent further initiatives, present trends point to further deterioration in transport system efficiency and quality of life. This paper demonstrates the potential benefits of more effective transport demand management, integrated public transit provision, land-use planning and car pricing, which together could help make Beijing a city of harmonious and sustainable transport.

  • A. Papson, F. Creutzig, L. Schipper (2010)
    Compressed Air Vehicles: Drive Cycle Analysis of Vehicle Performance, Environmental Impacts, and Economic Costs

    Transport Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. No. 2191. pp. 67-74. DOI: 10.3141/2191-09 Abstract.

    In the face of the climate crisis, petroleum dependence, and volatile gasoline prices, it is imperative to explore possible opportunities in unconventional alternative-fuel vehicles. One such option is the Compressed Air Vehicle (CAV), or air car, powered by a pneumatic motor and on-board high-pressure gas tank. While proponents claim CAVs offer environmental and economic benefits over conventional vehicles, the technology has until recently not been subject to a rigorous analysis. This paper characterizes the potential performance of CAVs in terms of fuel economy, driving range, carbon footprint, and fuel costs, and examines their viability as a transportation option as compared to gasoline and electric vehicles. Subjects of analysis include: energy density of compressed air; thermodynamic losses of expansion; CAV efficiency on a pump-to-wheel and well-to-wheel basis; and comparisons to gasoline and electric vehicles. Results show that while the CAV is a bold, unconventional solution for today's transportation challenges, it is ultimately not viable, comparing poorly to gasoline and electric vehicles in all environmental and economic metrics. Further, applications of the CAV are severely constrained due to its limited driving range. The results from this paper, including the analysis of energy density and expansion losses, may be used to identify future opportunities for CAV applications. The pump-to-wheels and well-to-wheels methodology contained here establishes a framework for evaluating future CAV designs.

  • F. Creutzig, O. Edenhofer (2010)
    Mobilität im Wandel - Wie der Klimaschutz den Transportsektor vor neue Herausforderungen stellt

    Internationales Verkehrswesen 62(3):1-6. Abstract.

    Der Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) empfiehlt eine weltweite Reduktion der Treibhausgasemission von mindestens 50 % bis 2050, um gefährlichen Klimawandel zu vermeiden. Von einer nachhaltigen Senkung der Emissionen ist die Weltwirtschaft jedoch trotz der Finanzkrise noch weit entfernt. Derzeit steigen die Emissionen nämlich weltweit - im Transportsektor sogar schneller als in anderen Sektoren. Eine Vermeidung gefährlichen Klimawandels wird daher nur möglich sein, wenn die Emissionen im Transportsektor weit unter das heutige Niveau abgesenkt werden.

  • F. Creutzig, A. Papson, L. Schipper, D. Kammen (2009)
    Economic and environmental evaluation of compressed-air cars

    Environ. Res. Lett. 4:044011. Abstract.

    Climate change and energy security require a reduction in travel demand, a modal shift, and technological innovation in the transport sector. Through a series of press releases and demonstrations, a car using energy stored in compressed air produced by a compressor has been suggested as an environmentally friendly vehicle of the future. We analyze the thermodynamic efficiency of a compressed-air car powered by a pneumatic engine and consider the merits of compressed air versus chemical storage of potential energy. Even under highly optimistic assumptions the compressed-air car is significantly less efficient than a battery electric vehicle and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional gas-powered car with a coal intensive power mix. However, a pneumatic-combustion hybrid is technologically feasible, inexpensive and could eventually compete with hybrid electric vehicles.

  • F. Creutzig, D. He (2009)
    Climate change mitigation and co-benefits of feasible transport demand policies in Beijing

    Transportation Research D 14: 120-131. Abstract.

    Urban car transportation is a cause of climate change but is also associated with additional burdens such as traffic congestion and air pollution. Studies of external costs and potential impacts of travel demand management help to define policy instruments that mitigate the damaging impact of transportation. Here, we analyze different externalities of car transportation in Beijing and show that social costs induced by motorized transportation are equivalent to about 7.5-15.0% of Beijing's GDP. Congestion and air pollution contribute the most with climate change costs being the most uncertain. We show that a road charge could not only address congestion but also has environmental benefits. The paper investigates the role of demand elasticities and demonstrates that joint demand and supply-side policies provide considerable synergies.

  • F. Creutzig, D. M. Kammen (2009)
    The Post-Copenhagen Roadmap Towards Sustainability: Differentiated Geographic Approaches, Integrated Over Goals

    Innovation, Vol 4 (4): 301-321. Abstract.

    Climate change will bring economic, social and environmental costs at scales beyond any other human experience (IARU, 2009). Studies imply that humanity must reduce CO2 below its current atmospheric concentration if we are to preserve a planet like the one we are now adapted to (Hansen et al., 2008). Considerable action has been taken since the Kyoto protocol was adopted in 1990 and ratified in 2005, but emissions continue to accelerate with potentially fatal effects. In fact, considerable ambivalence surrounds the Kyoto protocol. On the one hand, it is the only current substantial international effort to mitigate dangerous climate change. On the other hand, it lacks ambition. Its instruments mostly rely on complicated financial incentives, while mitigation focuses on single-source, context-detached, quantifiable and technology-oriented cases. (...) In response, we suggest a systemic approach in which mitigation measures are integrated across a set of sustainability goals, so they can be used to tackle local environmental, economic and social issues simultaneously, making them far more effective. Meanwhile, they should be specific to location, i.e. adapted to local geo- graphical situations and cultural knowledge.



  • F. Creutzig, J.C. Goldschmidt (2008)
    Energie, Macht, Vernunft - Der umfassende Blick auf die Energiewende

    Shaker, ISBN 978-3-86858-070-9 (order here). Abstract.

    Klimawandel und explodierende Energiekosten - die Probleme unserer Energieversorgung sind gewaltig. Aber mögliche Lösungen gibt es längst: Erneuerbare Energien und Energiesparen. Doch warum fällt es uns so schwer, diese Ideen auch umzusetzen? Wer dies verstehen will, muss mehr als Naturwissenschaft und Technik befragen. Mächtige Akteure mit eigenen Interessen blockieren wichtige Veränderungen und scheinbar unverrückbare Weltbilder verhindern engagiertes Handeln. Menschen verändern ihr Verhalten nur langsam und notwendige Kooperationen zwischen Menschen und Gruppen sind nur schwer zu erreichen. Nur wenn wir auch diese Aspekte berücksichtigen, werden wir es schaffen, unsere Energieversorgung menschenfreundlich und nachhaltig umzugestalten. Zwanzig junge Wissenschaftler der unterschiedlichsten Fachrichtungen - von der Historikerin bis zum Physiker - machen sich daran, die verschiedenen Aspekte unserer Energieversorgung zu erforschen: Den Klimawandel, wie die Energiewende möglich ist und welche Rolle Macht und Weltbilder in Politik und Wirtschaft spielen. Mit einer einzigartigen Kombination von Blickweisen stellen sie die Herausforderungen und Chancen unserer Energieversorgung anschaulich dar.


Assessment Reports

    As Lead Author:
  • R. Sims, R. Schaeffer, F. Creutzig et al. (2014)
    Chapter 8: Transport

    In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Abstract.

    Reducing global transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be challenging since the continuing growth in passenger and freight activity could outweigh all mitigation measures unless transport emissions can be strongly decoupled from GDP growth (high confidence).

  • O. Edenhofer et al. (2014)
    IPCC, 2014: Summary for Policymakers

    In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Abstract.

    The Working Group III contribution to the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) assesses literature on the scientific, technological, environmental, economic and social aspects of mitigation of climate change. It builds upon the Working Group III contribution to the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) and previous reports and incorporates subsequent new findings and research. The report also assesses mitigation options at different levels of governance and in different economic sectors, and the societal implications of different mitigation policies, but does not recommend any particular option for mitigation.

  • O. Edenhofer et al. (2014)
    IPCC, 2014: Technical Summary

    In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Abstract.

    Mitigation, in the context of climate change, is a human interven- tion to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases (GHGs). One of the central messages from Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is that the consequences of unchecked climate change for humans and natural ecosystems are already apparent and increasing. The most vulnerable systems are already experiencing adverse effects. Past GHG emissions have already put the planet on a track for substantial further changes in climate, and while there are many uncertainties in factors such as the sensitivity of the climate system many scenarios lead to substantial climate impacts, including direct harms to human and ecological well- being that exceed the ability of those systems to adapt fully.

  • S. Kahn Ribeiro, M.J. Figueroa, F. Creutzig et al. (2012)
    Energy end-use: transport

    In: Global Energy Assessment: Toward a Sustainable Future. ISBN:9780521182935. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Abstract.

    The world's demand of fuels for transportation has multiplied over the last decades due to the concurrent fast expansion of population, urbanization, and global mobility. The global transport sector is responsible for 28% of total final energy demand. The majority of the energy used in transportation - 70% - is utilized on the movement of passengers and goods on roads locally, nationally, and across regions. Transportation weighs heavily on climate, energy security, and environmental considerations, as 95% of transport energy comes from oil-based fuels. Transportation is the cause of other critical challenges due to its supporting role in local and global economies, as well as the implications of increasing transportation on human health and social interactions. The immense and multi-faceted challenges of a global transportation system deeply rooted in fossil fuels are compounded by the quickly evolving aspirations of a worldwide population that is increasingly on the move and has learned to regard mobility, in particular by motorized modes, as an important component of the modern lifestyle they have or are seeking to attain....

    As Contributing Author:
  • P. Smith, M. Bustamente et al. (2014) -- F. Creutzig leading the Bioenergy Appendix
    Chapter 8: Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU)

    In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Abstract.

    Bioenergy can play a critical role for mitigation, but there are issues to consider, such as the sustainability of practices and the efficiency of bioenergy systems (robust evidence, medium agreement) [11.4.4, Box 11.5, 11.13.6, 11.13.7]. Barriers to large-scale deployment of bioenergy include concerns about GHG emissions from land, food security, water resources, biodiversity conservation and live- lihoods. The scientific debate about the overall climate impact related to land use competition effects of specific bioenergy pathways remains unresolved (robust evidence, high agreement) [11.4.4, 11.13]. Bioen- ergy technologies are diverse and span a wide range of options and technology pathways. Evidence suggests that options with low lifecy- cle emissions (e.g., sugar cane, Miscanthus, fast growing tree species, and sustainable use of biomass residues), some already available, can reduce GHG emissions; outcomes are site-specific and rely on efficient integrated biomass-to-bioenergy systems, and sustainable land-use management and governance. In some regions, specific bioenergy options, such as improved cookstoves, and small-scale biogas and biopower production, could reduce GHG emissions and improve liveli- hoods and health in the context of sustainable development (medium evidence, medium agreement) [11.13].

  • K. Seto, S. Dhakal et al. (2014)
    Chapter 8: Human Settlements, Infrastructure and Spatial Planning

    In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Abstract.

    The shift from rural to more urban societies is a global trend with significant consequences for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change mitigation. Across multiple dimensions, the scale and speed of urbanization is unprecedented: more than half of the world population live in urban areas and each week the global urban pop- ulation increases by 1.3 million. Today there are nearly 1000 urban agglomerations with populations of 500,000 or greater; by 2050, the global urban population is expected to increase by between 2.5 to 3 billion, corresponding to 64 % to 69 % of the world population (robust evidence, high agreement). Expansion of urban areas is on average twice as fast as urban population growth, and the expected increase in urban land cover during the first three decades of the 21st century will be greater than the cumulative urban expansion in all of human history (medium evidence, high agreement). Urban areas generate around 80% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (medium evi- dence, medium agreement). Urbanization is associated with increases in income, and higher urban incomes are correlated with higher con- sumption of energy use and GHG emissions (medium evidence, high agreement) [Sections 12.1, 12.2, 12.3].

  • Sathaye et al. (2011)
    Renewable Energy in the Context of Sustainable Development

    In: IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation, IPCC [O. Edenhofer, R. Pichs - Madruga, Y. Sokona, K. Seyboth, P. Matschoss, S. Kadner, T. Zwickel, P. Eickemeier, G. Hansen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow (eds)], Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Abstract.

    Historically, economic development has been strongly correlated with increasing energy use and growth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Renewable energy (RE) can help decouple that correlation, contributing to sustainable development (SD). In addition, RE offers the opportunity to improve access to modern energy services for the poorest members of society, which is crucial for the achievement of any single of the eight Millennium Development Goals. Theoretical concepts of SD can provide useful frameworks to assess the interactions between SD and RE. SD addresses concerns about relationships between human society and nature. Traditionally, SD has been framed in the three-pillar model - Economy, Ecology, and Society - allowing a schematic categorization of development goals, with the three pillars being interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Within another conceptual framework, SD can be oriented along a continuum between the two paradigms of weak sustainability and strong sustainability. The two paradigms differ in assumptions about the substitutability of natural and human-made capital. RE can contribute to the development goals of the three-pillar model and can be assessed in terms of both weak and strong SD, since RE utilization is defined as sustaining natural capital as long as its resource use does not reduce the potential for future harvest...

  • Mitchell et al. (2011)
    Policy, Financing and Implementation

    In: IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation, IPCC [O. Edenhofer, R. Pichs - Madruga, Y. Sokona, K. Seyboth, P. Matschoss, S. Kadner, T. Zwickel, P. Eickemeier, G. Hansen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow (eds)], Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Abstract.

    Renewable energy can provide a host of benefits to society. In addition to the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, governments have enacted renewable energy (RE) policies to meet a number of objectives including the creation of local environmental and health benefits; facilitation of energy access, particularly for rural areas; advancement of energy security goals by diversifying the portfolio of energy technologies and resources; and improving social and economic development through potential employment opportunities. Energy access and social and economic development have been the primary drivers in developing countries whereas ensuring a secure energy supply and environmental concerns have been most important in developed countries. An increasing number and variety of RE policies - motivated by a variety of factors - have driven substantial growth of RE technologies in recent years. Government policies have played a crucial role in accelerating the deployment of RE technologies. At the same time, not all RE policies have proven effective and efficient in rapidly or substantially increasing RE deployment. The focus of policies is broadening from a concentration almost entirely on RE electricity to include RE heating and cooling and transportation...

Book chapters

  • F. Creutzig, A. Thomas, D. M. Kammen, E. Deakin (2012)
    Transport Demand Management in Beijing, China: Progress and Challenges

    In Low Carbon Transport in Asia: Capturing Climate and Development Co-benefits, edited by E. Zusman, A. Srinivasan, and S. Dhakal (Earthscan, London, 2012) ISBN 9781844079148. Abstract.

    Car dependence fosters increased congestion and air pollution locally, while contributing to climate change globally. Chinese cities undergoing extreme rapid motorization and urbanization face these issues at an unprecedented level in a short time period. Comprehensive transportation demand management (TDM) measures, including urban road pricing, have the potential to lessen these impacts. While the overall impact of a city toll are considered beneficial, from a political economy perspective these benefits must alleviate the reservations and concerns of users, particularly motorists. In China, reforms and decentralization have paved the way for more entrepreneurial leadership and political careers are now intrinsically linked to economic growth and, partially, to the automobile industry as a central economic pillar. Many institutions are neither designed nor have the capacity to handle the dynamism inherent with greater motorization. We propose and examine strategies to reducing barriers to the implementation of a city toll in Beijing and other Chinese cities, and identify crucial stakeholders. In particular, we address inequitable distribution of impacts, loss aversion, land-use development that promote car traffic, institutional deficits and indicators that emphasize economic growth. We propose to align a city toll with extended public transit, mixed-use and transit oriented development, and increased emphasis on capacity development and sustainability indicators. We also discuss ways how China's pattern of isomorphic development of different regions can be leveraged to promote TDM measures.

  • R. Mühlhoff, F. Creutzig (2011)
    Der Weg zu einem nachhaltigen städtischen Transportwesen

    pp.105-109 In Urban Futures 2050 - Szenarien und Lösungen für das Jahrhundert der Städte, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Berlin,ISBN 978-3-86928-057-8. Abstract.

    Das offizielle Ziel der EU-Klimapolitik ist die Begrenzung der durchschnittlichen globalen Temperaturerhöhung bis 2100 auf maximal 2°C. Das erfordert bis 2050 eine Reduktion der jährlichen Emission aller Treibhausgase auf etwa 20 Prozent des Standes von 1990. Für ca. ein Fünftel der CO2-Emission in der Europäischen Union ist derzeit der Straßenverkehr verantwortlich. Die Reduktion seiner CO2-Intensität auf etwa 20 Prozent innerhalb von vier Jahrzehnten stellt eine Herausforderung dar, die nur durch eine Kombination aus technologischem Wandel, einschneidenden verkehrspolitischen Maßnahmen auf städtischer und auf nationaler Ebene und einem grundlegenden Wandel der Mobilitätsgewohnheiten erreicht werden kann. Regulatorische Maßnahmen 'von oben', also etwa auf nationaler oder europäischer Ebene, können zwar einen wichtigen Beitrag zu diesem Ziel leisten, reichen jedoch bei weitem nicht aus. Es sind daher besonders die Städte als Akteure gefragt, für die seit 1990 kontinuierlich steigende CO2-Belastung durch den Transportsektor eine Trendwende herbeizuführen.

  • F. Creutzig, D. M. Kammen (2009)
    Getting the carbon out of transportation fuels

    In H. J. Schellnhuber, M. Molina, N. Stern, V. Huber & S. Kadner (Eds.), Global Sustainability - A Nobel Cause. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, UK. Abstract.

    Transport is currently responsible for 13 % of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and it contributes 23 % of global carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion (International Energy Agency, 2008). Global transport-related carbon dioxide emissions are expected to increase by 57 % in the period 2005 - 2030, making this the fastest growing sector globally. At the same time, there is consensus in science and politics that global GHG emissions must be reduced by more than 80 % from 1990 levels by 2050 to avoid perilous global warming. It is clear that the transport sector will need to be central to mitigation efforts. One important contribution to- wards this goal can be to reduce the carbon content of fuels or, more generally, vehicle propellants. In this essay, we investigate the potential of biofuels and electric mobility to decarbonize car transportation. As with most areas of a sustainable energy economy, large improvements are possible, but they require a 'systems science' approach that works across disciplines and considers traditional vehicles approaches and stationary power. Science, technology, policy, economics, and cultural awareness must be utilized in concert.

  • F. Creutzig (2008)
    Ökonomische Anreize und kollektives Handeln in Zeiten des Klimawandels

    In: Energie, Macht, Vernunft: Der umfassende Blick auf die Energiewende, Shaker, ISBN 978-3-86858-070-9. Abstract.

    Wir haben mit einer Beschreibung des Klimawandels angefangen und haben daraus geschlussfolgert, dass wir unsere Energieversorgung auf eine bestimmte Art und Weise umstellen sollten. An den Beispielen des Erneuerbaren Energiengesetz und des Emissionshandels haben wir gesehen, dass wir uns in Deutschland mal mehr mal weniger konsequent auf eine nachhaltige Energiepolitik hinbewegen. Als Hinderniss für eine erfolgreiche Energiewende haben wir das Verhalten der vier großen Energiekonzerne, des Wirtschaftsministeriums und ihrer führenden Vertreter identifiziert. Einer Energiewende entgegengesetzte Interessen und damit verbunden vorherrschende Einflussmöglichkeiten sind gigantische Bremsblöcke auf dem Weg in eine nachhaltige Wirtschaft. Genügt uns diese Beschreibung? Können wir einfach böse von gut unterscheiden? Hier wollen wir uns noch ein wenig weiter in die Theorie des menschlichen Verhaltens vertiefen. Dabei sollen uns zunächst spieltheoretische Experimente als Anhaltspunkte dienen, die wir anschließend mit philosophischen Positionen abgleichen können. Dabei werden wir sehen, dass eine banale Kritik an bösen Managern uns genauso wenig weiterhilft, wie das bloße Fordern einer nachhaltigen Energiewirtschaft. Vielmehr, so die These, müssen für eine zukunftsfähige Wirtschaftsform grundsätzliche Rahmenbedingungen und Normen unserer Gesellschaft mit bedacht und verändert werden, da diese individuelles Verhalten entscheidend beeinflussen. Wir beginnen mit einer Einführung in die neoklassische ökonomische Sichtweise und bauen diese aus, indem wir uns an Fallbeispielen orientieren.

  • F. Creutzig, P. Fahr (2008)
    Über die Legitimation einer Machtelite

    In: Energie, Macht, Vernunft: Der umfassende Blick auf die Energiewende, Shaker, ISBN 978-3-86858-070-9. Abstract.

    In diesem Kapitel wollen wir fragen, wer denn nun Inhaber der Macht ist und ansprechen, ob diese Macht legitimiert werden kann. In unserer heutigen komplexen Gesellschaft mit ihren unterschiedlichen Dimensionen (Wirtschaft, Politik, Recht, Wissenschaft, etc.) ist die Macht nicht allein einer Person zuzuordnen. Unsere Verfassung sieht zum Beispiel vor, dass die Bundeskanzlerin keine direkte Einflussnahme auf das Bundesverfassungsgericht hat. Andererseits sagt uns unsere Alltagsverständnis, dass nicht jeder das gleiche Quantum an Macht besitzt. Vielen erscheint das Abgeben der Wählerstimme als eher nutzloses Ritual. Wir werden von manchen Entscheidungen der Politik direkt betroffen (z.B. Steuern) und haben doch nicht das Gefühl, diese Beeinflussen zu können. Dagegen scheint es so, dass eine Reihe von Personen bestimmte Positionen innehaben, die ihnen zumindest in einzelnen Dimensionen unserer Gesellschaft überproportionalen Einfluss zusichern. Minister und hohe Verwaltungsbeamte haben signifikanten Einfluss auf das Formulieren von Gesetzen. Manager, Aufsichtsräte und Beratungsfirmen entscheiden über die Zukunft der Belegschaft und Investitionen. Journalisten und die Verantwortlichen in den Verlagshäusern haben Gestaltungsmöglichkeit der äffentlichen Wahrnehmung. Ein Busfahrer oder eine Kassiererin haben dagegen mit diesen Prozessen nichts zu tun. Wir beobachten also, dass es zumindest in den einzelnen gesellschaftlichen Dimensionen kleine Gruppen von wichtigen Personen gibt, die verhältnismäßig große Einflussmäglichkeiten haben. Diese Menschen werden oft als Elite bezeichnet.

  • F. Creutzig, E.-M. Jung (2008)
    Macht - ein philosophischer Zugang

    In: Energie, Macht, Vernunft: Der umfassende Blick auf die Energiewende, Shaker, ISBN 978-3-86858-070-9. Abstract.

    Eine Energiewende durchzuführen bedeutet eine radikale Änderung bestehender Strukturen und damit eine Konfrontation mit Macht. Wir wollen zunächst herausfinden, was sich hinter dem Begriff 'Macht' verbirgt, und wie Machtphänomene abstrakt beschrieben werden können, um konkrete Machtverhältnisse besser zu verstehen und zentrale Machtstrukturen des Energiemarktes zu beleuchten. Zudem gilt auch für uns: Grundlegende gesellschaftliche Veränderungen können nur durch irgendeine Form der Beeinflussung der beteiligten Akteure herbeigeführt werden. Damit wird das Verfügen und der 'richtige' Umgang mit Macht vorausgesetzt.

  • R. Schäfer, F. Creutzig (2008)
    Globale Treibhausgassteuer und Emissionshandel: Eine Frage des Instruments oder der Ausgestaltung?
    In: Ablasshandel gegen Klimawandel? Marktbasierte Instrumente in der globalen Klimapolitik und ihre Alternativen, VSA-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-89965-291-8. Abstract.

    In this contribution to the attac-reader on emission trading, we discuss the pros and cons of emission trading and carbon taxation. We point out that the particular design of each instrument matters to evaluate its overall benefit.

  • F. Creutzig, B. Knierim (2007)
    Urbanes Stadtklima: ohne Auto, dafür mit Zukunft
    In: Klima der Gerechtigkeit, VSA-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-89965-243-7. Abstract.

    Ungerechtigkeit ist ein soziales Problem - der Klimawandel ein ökologisches. Was haben beide miteinander zu tun? Wenn einige Menschen Umweltschäden verursachen und andere diese zu erleiden haben, so ist das ungerecht. Der Treibhauseffekt verstärkt also auch die weltweiten sozialen Unterschiede. Klimaschutz ist daher ein Gerechtigkeitsthema, das sich in viele Teilbereiche aufgliedern lässt. Einen dieser Bereiche stellen wir hier vor: urbane Mobilität. Hier verursacht städtischer Autoverkehr lokale Probleme wie Luftverschmutzung, Lärm oder Verkehrsunfälle. Gleichzeitig verstärken seine CO2-Emissionen den globalen Treibhauseffekt. Städtischer Verkehr verursacht also Ungerechtigkeit auf zwei Ebenen: global und lokal.

  • F. Creutzig, J. Janssen, K. Palamarz, N. Szöke (2005)
    Institutionelles Setting von Konflikten beim Schutz von ökologisch wertvollen Feuchtgebieten in einer komparativen Studie zwischen Kroatien und Österreich
    In: Projekt Junges Europa, Wehrhahn, Hannover, ISBN 3-86525-018-1. Abstract.

    Am Beispiel der Donauauen unterhalb von Wien in Österreich und den Biotopen der Drau im Nordwesten Kroatiens untersucht diese Studie die Interaktion verschiedener Akteure im Konflikt um Bedrohung und Schutz von Feuchtgebieten. Dabei wurden jeweils die als relevant erachteten Akteure interviewt. Anschließend wurden deren Interessen analysiert. Dabei stellt dieser Artikel die problematischen Inhalte, also die Grundlage der auftretenden Konflikte, heraus. Besondere Schwerpunkte liegen in der gegenseitigen Rollenzuschreibung, den zum Teil dadurch identifizierbaren Machtverhältnissen und den zu Grunde liegenden Weltbildern. Im Zusammenhang mit den situationsbedingten speziellen Interessen vermögen diese Schwerpunkte die unterschiedliche Kommunikationsstruktur zwischen Österreich und Kroatien zu erklären. Die Unterschiede und Gemeinsamkeiten zwischen den Situationen in den beiden Ländern sind im Zusammenhang der Ost - West Unterschiede Europas von besonderem Interesse.


  • J. Minx, F. Creutzig, V. Medinger, T. Ziegler, A. Owen, G. Baiocchi (2010)
    Developing a pragmatic approach to asses urban metabolism in Europe. A report to the European Environment Agency.


    This report has two overriding objectives: A) The development of a conceptual framework to capture urban metabolism in Europe, which can adequately describe the functionalities, assess the environmental impacts of urban areas/patterns as well as ongoing urbanisation processes across Europe, show the inter- linkages and mutual impacts among urban areas and between urban and rural areas, and identify the drivers and successful response measures; B) The provision of a first pragmatic approach to assess the environmental impact of urban areas and urbanisation processes from a European perspective and identify the role of different drivers.

  • D. Bongardt, M. Breithaupt, F. Creutzig (2010)
    Beyond the Fossil City: Towards low Carbon Transport and Green Growth

    GTZ working paper. Presented at the Fifth Regional EST Forum, 23 - 25 August 2010, Bangkok, Thailand. Also available as technical document of the GIZ. Abstract.

    Transport is a fast growing sector. A steadily increasing motorization along with urbanization is a trend that can be observed in most developing countries. This and the oil dependence of the transport sector lead to considerable growth rates of carbon emissions. Actions to stop this trend are urgently needed. This paper shows how national and/or urban low-carbon transportation policies could help countries to win the battle and achieve a smart, sustainable economic growth while at the same time stabilizing and later reducing transport emissions. Sustainable Development Policies and Measures in the transport sector include a variety of co-benefits, e.g. reduced air pollution, social equity and economic development. In the context of the global economic crisis such measures promote economic growth, social stability and also can be implemented at reasonable costs.

Colleagues at MCC and TU Berlin

Colleagues of the Energiebuch

Selection of Past talks

  • Presentation of Integrating Road Transport into EU ETS at Infraday on Oct 9.

  • Autofahren anders zahlen, June 15, Berlin. Klimaschutz mit PKW-Maut? Slides:pdf.

  • COP15, Dec 7: Presentation at the first side-event of COP15 (10.30, EU Pavillon): Bridging the gap Pathways for transport in the post 2012 process. Slides:pdf.

  • COP15, Dec 10: PIK Side Event. Driving home solutions: transport emissions trading and regional adaptation information (11.00, Room: Liva Weel). Slides:pdf.

  • Thu-Fri July 2/3. Organization of a workshop on the future of sustainable cities. in Schmoeckwitz, close to Berlin.

  • Thu June 25. Expert round-table and open forum on the subject of mobility in Beijing with 80plus1.

  • Fri May 1. Climate Change Mitigation: Considering Lifestyle Options in Europe and the US. Program.

  • Sat Apr 4, 10.40am: Entrepreneurship and Leadership Conference at UC Berkeley. Workshop on Transportation and Climate Change in California - Challenges and Opportunities for Business in the Bay Areas (Link).

  • Video-Talk Saturday, 14 March, 6pm GMT on Sustainable Transport in Chinese Cities (Link)