Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

Creating a sustainable future: accelerating the development of renewable energies and overcoming barriers to transformative action

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a swirling vortex of waste and debris in the Pacific Ocean. This area is twice the size of the continental US and is believed to hold almost 100 million tons of garbage.

WindmillResponding effectively to concerns about climate change and the multiple sustainability crises involve, among other things, a major expansion in renewable energy. Yet political decisions to adopt ambitious renewable energy targets have significant social, economic and environmental consequences, many of which remain poorly understood. Beyond this, the achievement of sustainability also necessitates major lifestyle changes that understandably meet with considerable social resistance.

Our research, led by Dr Joseph Szarka, Dr Ingolfur Blühdorn and Professor Charles Lees suggests that the primary obstacles to sustainability are no longer of a technological or economic nature but that political and cultural issues are now the central challenges.

We have worked with a number of key stakeholders including Forum for the Future, the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, the SPD, Die Grünen, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung.