Circular Economy in the EU: Measures and a new Monitoring Framework

The EU has recently published a “Circular Economy Package”, introducing various measures designed to advance the transition to a circular economy. Among these is a monitoring system that can assess progress towards a circular economy. The foundations for this monitoring framework were developed by the Institute of Social Ecology in Vienna in collaboration with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Ispra.

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Human impacts on forests and grasslands much larger and older than previously assumed

Human biomass utilization reduces global carbon stocks in vegetation by 50%, implying that massive emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere have occurred over the past centuries and millennia. The contribution of forest management and livestock grazing on natural grasslands to global carbon losses is of similar magnitude as that of deforestation. Currently, these effects are underappreciated in existing global carbon models and assessments of the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from land-based production. Without full consideration of land management effects, global climate forecasts and calculations of the GHG effects of future bioenergy policies are error prone, seriously jeopardizing the robust evaluation of measures that would help achieving the 1,5°C target of the Paris Agreement. These are some of the result of a study headed by Karl-Heinz Erb from the Institute of Social Ecology, published in the scientific journal “Nature” on 20.12.2017.

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New research shows: Organic farming can make an important contribution to world nutrition

A global conversion to organic farming can contribute to a profoundly sustainable food system, provided that it is combined with further measures, specifically with a one-third reduction of animal-based products in the human diet, less concentrated feed and less food waste. At the same time, this type of food system has extremely positive ecological effects, i.e. considerable reduction of fertilizers and pesticides, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions – and does not lead to increased land use, despite lower agricultural yields. These are the findings of a new study, which included the Vienna-based Department of Social Ecology among its contributors. Results have recently been published in “Nature Communications”.   

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83. ZUG-Minisymposium mit Michael Wagreich

Das Zentrum für Umweltgeschichte (ZUG) lädt zu folgender Veranstaltung:

Das Anthropozän – ein neues (geologisches) Erdzeitalter?



Ao. Univ. Prof. Dr. Michael Wagreich

Department für Geodynamik und Sedimentologie, Universität Wien


Assoc. Prof. Mag. Dr. Martin Schmid
Zentrum für Umweltgeschichte, Institut für Soziale Ökologie, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt Read more

In the cosmos of… Helmut Haberl

My cosmos is a house in Maria Anzbach on the western edge of the Vienna Woods. The beauty of the location and the surrounding garden were important motives for the relocation away from Vienna. I grew up in a rural area in Garsten, Upper Austria. When I turned 40, it dawned on me that I could no longer bear to live in a big city and that I needed to change my residential environment. I bought the house in 2011, together with my sister. It was in a pretty desperate state, and we renovated it from the ground floor to the roof.

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Climate change, demographics and health – challenges for the future

Willi Haas talked to ad astra about his research results.

The researcher Willi Haas investigates the consequences of climate change for our health, while considering demographic change. He calculates how susceptible our society is with regard to certain adverse consequences of climate change and explores which adaptation measures and options are available to mitigate against these impacts. Early projections for Austria indicate that – provided that no supplementary adaption measures are introduced – around the years 2030 and 2050 there will be roughly 3,000 additional deaths each year simply due to heat waves. Given unfavourable development scenarios and in unfavourable years, this figure may even increase threefold. Leading up to the UN Climate Conference COP in 2018, an assessment report for Austria coordinated by Haas aims to evaluate the current position relating to the topic of health, demographics and climate change.

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When forests regrow: ERC Starting Grant for sustainability researcher Simone Gingrich

In many industrialised countries, forests are starting to regrow after centuries or millennia of large-scale deforestation. This appears positive for the global climate system, because forests sequester carbon that would otherwise accumulate in the atmosphere. However, forest regrowth may not necessarily be a viable strategy for climate-change mitigation. Simone Gingrich has been awarded a prestigious ERC Starting Grant and plans to use it to identify and analyse the “hidden emissions” of reforestation processes.

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Current insights into social ecology: special issue of the journal ‚Sustainability‘ published

In the last decades social ecology has made important contributions to sustainability research. As the science of societal relationship to nature it evolved in the late 1980s. Today, the approach that understands complex environmental problems to be rooted in the critical relationship between society and nature is regarded to be fundamental for research dealing with sustainable development. Now, with a special issue of the renowned international journal ‘Sustainability’ a comprehensive insight is given to the state of the art of social-ecological research.

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On the outrage over how one single species treats the other species

How many species will remain, if we use land in a certain way and climate change continues to progress? Iwona Dullinger addresses this question in her research for her doctoral thesis at the  Institute of Social Ecology. We now know that land use and climate change are the two main drivers of biodiversity loss. Yet, to date, research has rarely considered them jointly. Dullinger hopes to close this research gap.

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81. Minisymposium des Zentrums für Umweltgeschichte

The Black Death and Social Metabolism: Late Medieval English Energy Consumption



Prof. Richard W. Unger

Department of History, University of British Columbia


Univ.-Prof. Ing. Dr.phil. Verena Winiwarter
Zentrum für Umweltgeschichte, Institut für Soziale Ökologie, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt


Ort / Place: AAU | IFF | Standort Wien, 1070 Wien, Schottenfeldgasse 29

Zeit / Time: Donnerstag, 22. Juni 2017, 18.15 – 20.00 Uhr Read more