Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy
Prof. Dr. Felix Ekardt, LL.M., M.A.
During the last years, the Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy has done a lot of research on questions of phosphorus and scarcity of natural resources, as well as on land-use and climate change - from a transdisciplinary point of view. See, among other papers, here.
Since 2007, Felix Ekardt has given speeches and presentations on some 50 international conferences on questions of sustainability, climate change, justice, human rights, phosphorus scarcity, land-use, etc. For details and also for forthcoming speeches, see the list of presentations.
The Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy has done a lot of research on the normative grounds of sustainability - respectively on the theoretical basis of both ethics and law. The most informative is the big German volume "Theorie der Nachhaltigkeit", but there is also a number of English papers. See, among other papers, here.
Substantial environmental law also requires the possibility to bring legal actions to courts, lest it remain on paper. Effective environmental protection, however, always has had to face strong resistance. Simplification of planning; and speed-up of administrative procedures and the conservation of economic advantages on a national level on one hand – on the other hand, more openness to civil society through information, participation, and protection of third-party-rights on a European and international level. More and more, national administrative law is marked by this contrast. Here, in the conformity of grown national administrative law with European law – in particular concerning problems of balancing and errors regarding procedural rules – lies the greatest current legal problem concerning large scale projects, not in the, by friends and foes alike, overestimated right of corporate action.
Partly related to this topic is the problem of the required strength of precaution in environmental law (which is not tantamount to ‘absolutely harmless’!). Precaution and the rules on the assessment of facts in environmental law are a problem of correct balancing and decision-making in general. This becomes particularly apparent with the classic means of environmental policy: threshold values for dangerous substances. This also concerns the underestimated reach of threshold-related human rights protection that should benefit environmental claimants; the problem that threshold values are neither political value judgements nor assessments of facts; the problem that experts should not balance fundamental rights nor make political decisions; and that balancing in environmental policy-making often leads to lethal results.