Agora Verkehrswende

Agora Verkehrswende is a Berlin-based think tank whose aim is to promote the creation of sustainable, climate-friendly mobility. Non-partisan and non-profit, it works together with key stakeholders in the field of politics, business, academia and civil society to decarbonise the transport system. Its researchers conduct rigorous, evidence-based analysis in developing policy strategies and recommendations. Agora Verkehrswende was initiated in 2016 by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

Vision
 

The Verkehrswende – the transition to a climate-neutral transport system – is embedded in a set of far-reaching climate goals and legislation. The most important of these is the 2015 Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty requiring that countries hold “the increase in global average temperature to well below 2℃ above pre-industrial levels” and pursue “efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels”. In Germany, the key legislation is the amended Climate Change Act of June 2021, which “enshrines in law the goal of achieving greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045”. For Germany’s transport sector, this means cutting current emissions nearly in half by 2030 and eliminating all emissions by 2045.

Achieving climate-neutral mobility requires a two-pronged approach. We need to make sure that the transport system is more efficient and we need to decarbonise the energy needed to run it. This means switching from fossil fuels to green electricity and fuels produced with renewable energy. And it means increasing the energy efficiency of the transport system by discouraging unnecessary trips, using more environmentally friendly modes of transport (bus, train, bicycle), bundling travel, and improving vehicles and other transport technologies. Only if we pursue both strategies will we be able to create a truly sustainable transport system. What is more, the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is tied to other important concerns such as social justice, freedom, economic efficiency, health, environmental protection and quality of life. In this sense, the Verkehrswende (transport transformation) is also a Fairkehrswende (just transport transformation).

Topics
 

Our comprehensive strategies for creating a climate-neutral Germany by 2045 regard the transport sector holistically, as we devote attention to aviation, inland waterways, and ties to other sectors such as energy, industry and agriculture. The institute’s in-depth projects concentrate on inland passenger and freight transport, as these are responsible for over 95 per cent of the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions in Germany.

Our work is focused on Germany because its transport sector is still quite a ways from achieving climate neutrality. Yet we also exchange ideas with researchers and institutes around the world as we search for new approaches and share Germany’s own experiences.

Activities
 

We develop evidence-based recommendations for policy action that draw on the concerns of both the economy and civil society. Our team  is staffed by 25 researchers across a variety of disciplines, from engineering and economics to urban planning and political science. We seek to encourage dialogue and foster real impact. The goal is to build majorities in favour of a climate-neutral transport sector that serves the common good. We understand the transition to decarbonised mobility not as a task for the transport sector but as a collective endeavour, one that is part of a larger transformation of society towards sustainability.

We cooperate with numerous research institutes and partner organisations. For projects dealing with the interactions between transport and other sectors, we frequently join forces with our sister organisations Agora Energiewende, Agora Industry, and Agora Agriculture. Through our advisory bodies, such as the Agora Verkehrswende Council and our Cities Network, we assemble various interests and perspectives and create a trusted space for open discussion and for working together to find solutions.    

Organisational structure
 

Since 2021, Agora Verkehrswende has been under the trusteeship of the non-profit company Agora Transport Transformation gGmbH. The institute’s Executive Director is Christian Hochfeld. Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation bear the shareholder responsibility for the institute.

From its founding in 2016 until the beginning of 2021, Agora Verkehrswende was under the trusteeship of the non-profit Smart Energy for Europe Platform (SEFEP) gGmbH. A change in the company structure of SEFEP gGmbH  prompted the creation of Agora Transport Transformation.

Funding
 

Agora Verkehrswende is funded mostly by two foundations: Stiftung Mercator (headquartered in Essen) and the European Climate Foundation (headquartered in Den Haag). Within our mission of promoting a sustainable transport sector, we retain full discretion over how the funding is spent.

In 2021 the total budget of Agora Verkehrswende was 2.15 million euros. (See “Downloads” for a breakdown of our financial resources for the years 2019–2021). 86 per cent of our budget came from our two main funding agencies, Stiftung Mercator (58 per cent) and the ECF (28 per cent). 14 per cent stemmed from public donors.

As a rule, our funding comes in the form of grants. Agora Verkehrswende does not rely on work commissioned by third parties. Rather, we receive grants for projects we develop ourselves. Agora Verkehrswende accepts outside commissions only if the work does not jeopardise our impartiality and independence.

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