Chances and Challenges of Becoming Carbon-Free Societies

The Main Questions

Given that we are faced with the necessity to reshape our habits of energy consumption because of climate change, what are success factors in  transforming social habits? How can we become low-carbon societies? How do modern societies transform their habits at all? What is the impact of being modern? Which drivers of change can we rely on? What role does technological innovation have in allowing us to achieve de-carbonization of the world economy over the next 40 years?  The extent of reduction in carbon intensity needed is unlikely to come about solely as the result of economic forces and environmental policy. It will require transformational technological change, comparable to what we have seen in the computer and communications area.  How can government policy increase the chances that this could occur?

Elisabeth von Thadden

Elisabeth von Thadden was born in 1961 and is an editor of the German weekly Die Zeit in Hamburg. She has written a book on Goethe's concept of nature and is now interested in the social and cultural aspects of climate change. As a visiting scholar at The Center for European Studies at Harvard for the fall she wants to work on the question of how societies change routines: Why don't people ecologically act as they know they should? Her new book, "Wer denkt fuer morgen?" was published in August 2010.

Adam B. Jaffe

Adam B. Jaffe is Dean of Arts and Sciences, and the Fred C. Hecht Professor in Economics at Brandeis University. Since coming to Brandeis in 1994, he has been Chair of the Economics Department, and Chair of the Intellectual Property Policy Committee. He was previously Assistant and Associate Professor at Harvard University, and Senior Staff Economist at the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Professor Jaffe's research focuses on the economics of innovation. His book, Innovation and Its Discontents: How our Broken Patent System is Endangering Innovation and Progress, and What to Do About It, (co-authored with Josh Lerner of Harvard Business School) was published by Princeton University Press in 2004. Professor Jaffe earned his Ph.D. in Economics at Harvard, and an S.M. in Technology and Policy and an S.B. in Chemistry from M.I.T.