The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Jordi Jaria i Manzano, Nathalie Chalifour and Louis J. Kotzé
Chapter 2: Germany’s ‘Energiewende’: what can environmental law scholarship learn from it?
The term Energiewende was coined as far back as 1980 to describe the transition from the dominant fossil fuel/nuclear centralized energy system to a renewable decentralized energy system. The anti-nuclear movement, grassroots initiatives and environmental activism have led to a cultural shift that mainstreamed the Energiewende in Germany and made it virtually irreversible along with the general concern for sustainability. This raises the issue what role environmental lawyers can play in this transitional process. Are they just ‘experts’ and commentators as conventional legal scholarship would have it or should they be actors for social and legal change? Recent literature on the methodology of environmental law has shown that scholars have, in the past, too often been reactive (merely responding to social change) and reductionist (e.g., ‘energy law’ as stand-alone subject) and not sufficiently engaged in ethical and political discourses. The chapter calls for a methodological approach to researching energy law based on sustainability ethics and advocacy.
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