A comparison of the “Energiewende” and the attempted transformation to organic agriculture in Germany

Drivers and barriers of sustainability transformations

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This article compares the drivers and barriers of two sustainability transformations in Germany: the energy transformation (“Energiewende”) andt he attempted transformation towards organic agriculture which has, so far, been less successful. It is based on two case studies rooted in transformation research. While there is rapidly growing literature on energy, there are far fewer analyses of agricultural transformations. Moreover, single case studies dominate. The cross-case comparison presented in this article is a step towards filling this gap. Particularly in their initial stages, the two transformation processes shared similarities: both systems had been coming under pressure due to environmental crises, grassroots movements and niche developments of sustainable alternatives. However, changes to the regulatory system framework made investments in renewable energy more attractive than in organic agriculture, where the profitability of the transformation is still reduced by significant subsidies for conventional agriculture. Moreover, the energy transformation has benefitted from technological improvements and falling costs, an early coalition of supporters, including business actors, and more recently from abroader societal and political consensus.

©2019 D. A. Heyen, F.Wolff; licensee oekom verlag. This Open Access article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CCBY4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0). https://doi.org/10.14512/gaia.28.S1.9 Submitted December 19, 2018; revised version accepted July 12, 2019.