Beyond Fossil Fuels – Just Transition in Arizona and Germany

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How can we transition from a fossil-fuel-based economy to net zero? How can we ensure this transition is just & fair?What can we learn from each other in the United States and Germany? How can we get ready for a net-zero emissions society by 2050?

There is, a growing understanding in the US of the necessity to shift away from fossil fuels towards green energy. Extreme weather phenomenons and devastating wildfires have made clear: Climate change is a fact and fossil fuels contribute considerably to this development.

Therefore, we need to move beyond fossil fuels, fast and thoroughly. This starts with coal, but does not stop there: natural gas and oil are the next steps in the process.

Yet, fossil fuels are still the main source of energy for both Germany and the United States of America. Beyond this, the supply of fossil fuels creates and secures numerous employment opportunities, including highly skilled jobs, but also increases the local tax base. This applies both to coal, gas and oil extraction, although the nature and quality of employment created differs from resource type to resource type.

Germany has gained valuable experience with the Just Transition approach both during the hard coal exit in the Ruhr Area, and now in the ongoing lignite coal exit in the Rhineland and Lusatia.

While world leaders negotiated at the UN climate conference in Glasgow, we discussed how the German experience with Just Transition can be applied to the situation in Arizona and vice-versa.

Due to the pandemic, speakers from Germany participated via video conferencing.

The hybrid event took place on November 10 at the University Club at ASU in Tempe.

The program was sponsored by the German Foreign Office as part of their Climate Funds for climate action. We thank the Consulate General of Germany in Los Angeles for their support.

The event was co-hosted by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at ASU.

Opening Session:

Lauren Kuby, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, ASU

and POCACITO, followed by keynotes by

Susanne Vollmer, Consulate General of Germany in Los Angeles

Nicole Horseherder, Executive Director, Tó Nizhóní Ání (TNA)

Session 1: Coal exit and beyond – phasing out fossil fuels


Christian Hauenstein, Coal Exit Research Group, Europa-University Flensburg

Kris Mayes, Professor of Practice, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, College of Global Futures, ASU

How do Arizona and Germany plan the phase-out of coal in the energy systems and what possible lessons can we learn from the process of the German Coal Commission for Arizona’s next steps?

Session 2: Transitioning into New Industries and Jobs


Bernd Tischler, Lord Mayor of Bottrop

Shade Shutters, Research Scientist, School of Complex Adaptive Systems, College of Global Futures, ASU

Ginger Sykes Torres, Environmental Consultant, Community Advocate, and Philanthropist

How can we ensure new job opportunities are available, offering good and skilled jobs? How can we train the existing workforce and foster innovation and entrepreneurship? We will hear examples from Bottrop and Arizona.

Session 3: A Just Transition – Social and Equity Implications

Christine Herntier, Mayor of Spremberg

Julia Guarino, Founding Director, Four Corners Rising

Daniel Musgrove, Business Development Manager, SolSystems

Phasing out coal means many environmental benefits, but also socio-economic challenges for vulnerable populations. How can we ensure the most at-risk are not losing out in the transition? We will hear examples from Lusatia and Arizona.

Our speakers:

Christine Herntier

Christine Herntier is the non-party mayor of Spremberg in the Lusatia-region of Brandenburg. First elected in 2014, she was just re-elected in October 2021. She was a member of the German Coal Commission and is the speaker for the municipalities of Brandenburg in the Lausitzrunde (Lusatia Council).

Bernd Tischler

Bernd Tischler was first elected as Bottrop’s lord mayor in 2009 and has been re-elected in 2014 and 2019. Since 2009, he heads the planning commission of the Ruhr Regional Association. He completed his studies in urban planning at the University of Dortmund in 1984 and started working as an urban planner for the City of Bottrop in 1989.

Christian Hauenstein

Christian Hauenstein is research associate & PhD student at Europa-Universität Flensburg, guest researcher at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) & at Technische Universität Berlin. In his research, he focuses on socio-ecological transformations of the energy system, and in particular on the phase-out of fossil fuels.

Nicole Horseherder

Nicole Horseherder is a Diné (Navajo) environmental activist and long-time advocate for an end to extractive energy economies. She is the executive director of Tó Nizhóní Ání, a grassroots organization focused on preserving and protecting the environment and charting a new path forward for the Diné people as the coal economy fades.

Kris Mayes

Kris Mayes served on the Arizona Corporation Commission from 2003 until her term expired on December 31, 2010. She helped co-author the Arizona Renewable Energy Standard, which requires that by 2025 utilities must generate 15 percent of their overall energy portfolio from renewable sources, like wind, solar, biomass, biogas, geothermal & others.

Lauren Kuby

As manager of community engagement and events for Arizona State University’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Lauren Kuby engages a wide and diverse audience. Lauren has served as a Councilmember for the City of Tempe since 2014. As a long-time community leader and environmentalist, she advocates for vulnerable populations & climate.

Susanne Vollmer

Susanne Vollmer is Head of the Consular and Legal Affairs department at the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Los Angeles since 2019.She was born in Stuttgart in 1966.

After receiving her high school diploma in Husum, which is close to the border to Denmark, Ms Vollmer spent one year in a family near Copenhagen/Denmark as an Au-Pair.In 1988 Ms. Vollmer started her studies at the Diplomatic Academy in Bonn and, after having passed the exam after 3 years, served the German government since then at embassies/consulates in Morocco, Denmark, Albania, Cuba, Mexico, Brasil and now in Los Angeles.In Berlin (2002-2008) she worked in the legal department of the Federal Foreign office as consultant for the development of IT-systems for Consular Work (visa) and organizational questions.

Shade Shutters

Shade Shutters. Following a lengthy career in corporate finance and consulting, Dr. Shutters completed a PhD in Biology in 2009 at Arizona State University and went on to complete a postdoc in Applied Economics at the University of Vigo, Spain, and a postdoc on complex systems (urban systems focus) at Arizona State University. His research is focused on identifying and measuring interconnectivity in urban systems, particularly of more cryptic phenomena such as information networks and economic interdependencies. Focusing on countries with adequate data on their metropolitan areas, he uses big data analytics and complex systems science to map and analyze how interconnectivity not only enhances efficiency, but also increases fragility and leads to cascading effects. He works closely with community stakeholders to translate his research into decision tools for economic and workforce development. His secondary focus is on trade networks of primarily agricultural commodities and how the structure of those networks relates to social stability and vulnerabilities. His long term goal is to contribute to the founding of a new science of cities and to create novel decision tools that facilitate a city’s transition to a more sustainable, resilient, and knowledge-driven economy.

Ginger Torres

Born on the Navajo Nation in Tuba City and raised in Mesa, Ginger Sykes Torres is Diné (Navajo), Tódich’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan) born for Bilagáana. As a high school student, Ginger became the first female to win a world title at the Heard Museum’s World Championship Hoop Dance Contest in 1997. Ginger’s groundbreaking hoop dance style was the first to incorporate modern dance and gymnastics elements into the hoop dance, and her victory paved the way for female hoop dancers of all ages. Ginger went on to graduate from Stanford University with a degree in the Earth Systems Science Program. She is now a certified environmental consultant on tribal and environmental issues, such as renewable energy and climate change. She currently serves as Vice Chair for the City of Phoenix Environmental Quality and Sustainability Commission, Chair of the Urban Heat Island Subcommittee, and is a member of the Mayor’s Rio Salado Advisory Committee which aims to make the city an epicenter of sustainable development. Ginger is actively involved in Arizona’s leading non-profit community and arts organizations. Ginger is the youngest trustee at the Heard Museum. Ginger was instrumental in the creation of Ballet Arizona’s Tribal Nations Advisory Council which aims to explore ways to engage local Native communities in Native dance and ballet. She is also a Girl Scout Troop Leader. Ginger recently co-founded the grassroots COVID relief group PPE for Navajo First Responders and was recently named to Valley Leadership’s Ready Together Program to help find innovative ways to make an impact in Arizona’s response to COVID-19. Ginger and her husband, Javier Torres, live in Phoenix. They have three small kids, two small dogs, and one small cat.

Julia Guarino

Julia Guarino is an attorney and nonprofit director with expertise in environmental law and policy, public lands and water resources protection, federal Indian law, and tribal law and governance. She is currently launching a nonprofit called Four Corners Rising, with a mission of assisting the Four Corners region to rapidly adjust to the changing economy by using the tools of equity to connect respectful resources to the community in ways that honor culture and tradition and address interjurisdictional challenges while improving quality of life for all. Prior to founding Four Corners Rising, Julia served as an attorney for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and the Western Environmental Law Center.

Daniel Musgrove

Daniel Musgrove serves as the Business Development Manager for California at Sol Customer Solutions.

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