Special Seminar: Sustainability at the Nexus of Land Use and Energy

Felix Creutzig, Head of "Land use, infrastructures and transport" group, Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin

Monday, April 20, 2015, 4:00–5:00pm

Room 200, Cummings Hall

Energy fuels and shapes our industrialized societies. But the quality and quantity of primary energy resources produces unsustainabilty outcomes that endanger environmental, and by this also societal systems. It is especially the looming threat of climate change that induces policy and business to reconsider our current energy system, shifting from fossil to renewable resources, and changing our infrastructures and its associated energy demand. But both of these options lead to a dense entanglement of energy and land use, pointing to the question of how to co-manage energy and land-use systems in a sustainable manner. In this talk, I will focus on two examples at the energy/land use nexus: bioenergy as a sustainable resource, and low-energy urban land use. First, I will argue that the complexity of the bioenergy issue, mostly ensuing from its land-use dimension, enables different communities to have widely divergent opinions on its sustainability. But comprehensive assessments enable researchers to integrate these facets, focusing on efficient land use. Second, I will investigate how urban land use and its transport system produce a number of closely associated environmental concerns, including GHG emissions, air pollution, and congestion. Building on large-scale data-analysis and urban economic modeling, I will present results pointing to combinations of variables that produce more or less sustainable outcomes. I will end the talk by asking how the high ambiguity involved in comprehensive modeling of bioenergy and urban systems should shape decision making for policy makers and in business.

About the Speaker

Felix Creutzig is lead author of the Fifth IPCC Assessment Report, where he was, inter alia, guiding the contribution on bioenergy, and lead analyst of the Global Energy Assessment transport chapter. He teaches Geographical Economics and Climate Change at the TU Berlin. His research interests focus on epistemological questions of climate change mitigation assessments, particularly those of bioenergy, on sustainable urban energy systems, and on spatially explicit economic models of urban transport and land rent. In 2012/2013 Felix was Visiting Research Fellow at Princeton University, investigating uncertainty in communicating climate change. And as a postdoctoral fellow at the Berkeley Institute of the Environment in 2008/2009, Felix worked with Professor Daniel Kammen and colleagues on different aspects of transportation, ranging from GHG emission development to transport policy in Chinese cities and technology evaluation of the compressed-air car. For the Energy Foundation China in Beijing he did an integrated assessment of car transportation in Beijing, specifying the potential benefits of a city toll. He blogs for Environmental Research Web. From 2009 to 2011, he was president of Netzwerk Europa, the alumni association of the Studienkolleg zu Berlin. Dr. Creutzig obtained his PhD in Computational Neuroscience at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin after graduating in Theoretical Physics from the University of Cambridge. He also holds undergraduate degrees in physics and medical studies from the University of Freiburg.

For more information, contact Haley Tucker at haley.tucker@dartmouth.edu.