The Research Group uses models to analyse current policies in the fields of energy, climate and agriculture. One of its priorities is investigating the role of technological change to foster the attainment of Austrian climate change mitigation targets as well as sustainable transformation of the economiy and the energy system. One focus is the analysis of options and trajectories for achieving Austria's climate goals and a sustainable transformation of the economic and energy system. Further research focuses on environmental technologies and environmental innovations as well as on questions of sustainable consumption, sustainable production, sustainable waste and resource management (closed-loop recycling) and wealth measurement. The transformation of the energy system through disruptive technologies and its possible contribution to the attainment of climate goals are a further focus.
International climate policy (especially policies at the EU level), long-term scenarios for decarbonisation and sustainable development as well as economic macro-modelling continue to dominate the Research Group's activities. In addition to national projects, the Group has been participating in international projects relating to this area. Long-term energy and climate scenarios and the description of sustainable pathways for decarbonisation will remain a core interest of Research Group 5. The medium and long-term goals of EU climate and energy policy ("2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework", "Paris Climate Targets") determine the framework for the analyses. At the national level, this requires developing strategies to ensure that the targets will be met, which in turn creates demand for model-supported analysis. Such work increasingly includes modelling relationships between demand for functionalities and energy services, energy systems and emissions. Particular attention is paid to developing indicators that describe and link energy flows and well-being-relevant energy services.
Farming is one of the primary policy fields in the EU and also plays a big role in Austria. Traditionally, agricultural policy has been studied with a view to its effect on the agricultural sector. Its effects on our natural environment (ecosystem services and biodiversity) and the rural economy are of growing interest for research, considering that agricultural policy is changing to become a rural policy where issues of land-use and their environmental-economic consequences are gaining in weight. In recent years, forestry and natural hazards issues have become a subject of scientific research. In thematic terms, such activities can be categorised as issues of land use, land use change and risk management.
The Group's competence in relation to environmental technology and innovation is documented by participating in numerous research projects with international partners. Analytical work of the Group shows that a well-balanced mix of tools is suitable to induce both environmental improvements and employment or value added, by triggering technological progress and opening market opportunities for innovative companies.
Environmental technologies are considered as one prerequisite for reaching environmental targets especially regarding the mitigation of climate change and for reaching sustainable growth.
This subject is at the core of the Research Group's activities and has been the focus of several projects for the European Commission as well as national projects. The Group's focus in this research area lies on technological change and energy demand, the effect of cycle-oriented business models on economic development and environment as well as management of ecological risks (impacts of climate change). New modelling concepts are constantly developed and implemented for assessing these research questions as well as for the evaluation of policy instruments and the application of innovative technologies. The applied models deliver a fundamental understanding of the relationships and functional chains in consumption behaviour, economic production and energy demand. Another focus in this area is the development of indicators of well-being and sustainable development.