Study Topic 2

Strategic framework and socio-cultural aspects of the energy transition

The transition from an economic model driven by fossil energy to a sustainable and low-carbon society requires specific national framework conditions in the different sectors, especially if the transition and the resulting system shall be designed to be secure in the long-term, be reliable and affordable. A strategic framework taking these objectives into account and defining specific roadmaps and targets, e.g. for energy efficiency improvement, renewable energy production, and, in the case of Japan, nuclear energy and GHG emission reductions, will provide guidance and security for citizens, companies, and all investors in energy demand and supply systems.

Title ST2

Furthermore, in addition to technical possibilities and the existing energy supply of a country that is often co-determined by domestic resources, there are socio-cultural aspects building a substantial precondition in the society for a successful transition. E.g., in Germany already since the 1970s an anti-nuclear and pro-renewable energy movement consisting of single persons, organizations and bigger networks has been formed and argues explicitly against a peaceful use of nuclear energy.

After the impact of the Great Eastern Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident, voices have also been raised in Japan that are opposing peaceful use of nuclear energy. While on the other hand, current administration in Japan is clearly supporting peaceful use of nuclear and also other pro-nuclear groups exist, which mean that the discussions on the future role of nuclear energy is still going on in Japan, particularly in addressing Climate Change. Also, discussion on the methodology of risk assessment of nuclear power plants continues and the importance of communication among various stakeholders is being highlighted.

Main Tasks

  1. Which targets, strategies and strategic framework conditions are necessary for a positive implementation of the energy transition and possible, based on the existing potentials?
  2. Which targets, strategies and strategic framework conditions for an energy transition are already available or planned in both countries and are they sufficient?
  3. Which socio-cultural preconditions are (1) needed, (2) already in place for a sustainable and climate-friendly economic model
  4. What approaches on changes of lifestyle and actors’ behaviour in the field of consumption, habitation, mobility, products, production, and services are possible for an energy transition and how can those shifts be encouraged and enabled by policies?
  5. What can Germany learn from Japan in all the above mentioned areas?
  6. How is the energy transition perceived by the Japanese and German general public?
  7. How does the geographical difference between the countries affect the public understanding about energy transition?

Key Findings

  1. In both countries, energy policy is based on the principles of economic efficiency, energy security and environmental sustainability (“Three E”).

  2. The citizens in both countries have a favorable view of the energy transition.

  3. An intensified bilateral policy research dialogue between the two countries has been identified as crucial, complemented by a national multi-stakeholder dialogue with businesses, civil society and the research community