Scenarios, discourses
and strategies for the decarbonisation of the transport sector by

About us

In partnership with key players in the fields of politics, economics, science and civil society, Agora Verkehrswende will pave the way for the full decarbonisation of the transport sector by 2050. We are developing an extensive climate protection strategy and will support its successful implementation.

This climate protection strategy revolves around the transition of the entire transport system from fossil fuels to electricity and fuel generated by renewable energy. The transformation of the transport sector includes increasing the efficiency of the entire traffic system by avoiding unnecessary traffic, transitioning to environmentally friendly modes of transport and improving individual modes of transport. The environmentally friendly development of urban traffic is a key component of the necessary revolution.
The transformation of our transport system is a complex challenge facing all of society. It can only be done by the key societal players working together. Agora Verkehrswende provides the platform for this collaboration, develops processes and provides scientific information on scenarios and methods. Agora Verkehrswende focuses on the land-based transport of passengers and goods in Germany in a European context.
Project description (PDF)

The roughly ten-strong team of Agora Verkehrswende is led by the Managing Director Christian Hochfeld. It has outstanding connections and is interdisciplinary, comprising engineers, economists, city planners and political scientists.

About Christian Hochfeld

From 1996 to 2004, Dipl.-Ing. Christian Hochfeld worked on environmental and climate protection in traffic as a research assistant at the Oeko-Institut, a research institute for applied ecology. He was a member of the management team of Oeko-Institut from 2004 to 2010. Christian Hochfeld then worked as a programme director for sustainable traffic in China at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) a leading provider of international cooperation services for sustainable development. He has been the Managing Director of Agora Verkehrswende, an initiative of Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation, since February 2016.

Christian Hochfeld has been a member of the International Advisory Committee of the China Association for Electric Vehicles (China EV 100) since 2015.


How we are

Agora Verkehrswende was founded in February 2016. Its shareholders are Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation. The project has been financed by the shareholders with five million euros until the end of 2018. The project will enter a second funding phase given the first phase is successful.

Stiftung Mercator

Preventing dangerous climate change is one of Stiftung Mercator’s central objectives. Ambitious climate change mitigation is only possible if greenhouse gas emissions can also be effectively reduced in the area of transport – and this requires a dramatic cut in oil consumption in the transport sector. The goal of the Agora Verkehrswende is to work together with key stakeholders in the areas of politics, business, academia and civil society in drawing up the necessary basic framework for a comprehensive climate change mitigation strategy for the transport sector in Germany, ultimately including its complete decarbonization. Stiftung Mercator is a private and independent foundation. Through its work it strives for a society characterized by openness to the world, solidarity and equal opportunities. In this context it concentrates on strengthening Europe; increasing the educational success of disadvantaged children and young people, especially those of migrant origin; driving forward climate change mitigation and promoting science and the humanities. Stiftung Mercator symbolizes the connection between academic expertise and practical project experience. One of Germany’s leading foundations, it is active both nationally and internationally. Stiftung Mercator feels a strong sense of loyalty to the Ruhr region, the home of the founding family and the foundation’s headquarters.

European Climate Foundation

The European Climate Foundation (ECF) is a joint initiative to combat global warming by several large, international foundations from Europe and the USA. Part of the ClimateWorks network, it has been working to promote effective climate protection in Europe since 2008. As the largest, most prosperous country in the EU, Germany plays a key role in the strategy of the European Climate Foundation – not least because the clean energy revolution (Energiewende) has shown that the transition to an environmentally friendly energy system is feasible.


Things that might interest journalists

New Foundation Initiative to Tackle Climate Protection in the Transport Sector

Agora Verkehrswende will deliver debates, scenarios and strategies for decarbonising the German transport sector by 2050. The initiative was officially launched on 1 July.

Berlin, 1 July 2016. In order to achieve the German climate protection goals following the Paris Climate Change Agreement, CO2 emissions from vehicles, vessels and aircrafts must be reduced to almost zero by 2050. Currently, the transport sector is responsible for about 20 percent of Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions. Agora Verkehrswende will develop the foundations for a comprehensive climate change strategy for the transport sector in dialogue with key stakeholders. Agora Verkehrswende, which is a joint initiative established by the Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation, has now officially begun its work. The foundations established the think tank at the beginning of this year and foresee a budget of five million euros until the end of 2018.

The initiative will focus on societal discourse. In Agora Verkehrswende’s high-level Council, select representatives from politics, business, academia and civil society will discuss promising paths towards a successful transformation of the transport sector. The Agora Verkehrswende Council will be chaired by Achim Steiner, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director. The scientific basis for the discourse and the development of strategies in the form of analyses and studies will be developed by a ten-member interdisciplinary team with Christian Hochfeld as Executive Director. read more

Press release (PDF)


Agora Verkehrswende – Transforming Transport: How the chances and challenges of the transformation in the transport sector can look like

Under participation of 120 guests, including high level politicians and renowned transport experts, the launch of Agora Verkehrswende took place on the 1st of July 2016 in the project centrum of Stiftung Mercator in Berlin. For further information, you can watch the full video recording here.

01. July 2016
The launch of Agora Verkehrswende on the 1st of July 2016

Agora Verkehrswende, the newly founded think tank, initiated by Stiftung Mercator and European Climate Foundation, serves as a multi-stakeholder platform to discuss possible mitigation paths towards an entire decarbonization of the transport sector.

The representatives of both foundations which finance Agora Verkehrswende – Dr. Lars Grotewold (Director Centre for Climate Change, Stiftung Mercator) and Dr. Martin Rocholl (Director Germany Programme, European Climate Foundation) – highlighted in their welcoming speeches the necessity to transform the transport sector in Germany as a consequence of the ambitious climate protection targets of the Paris agreement.

Achim Steiner, chairman of the Agora Verkehrswende council, described in his speech the challenges, risks and great opportunities of this transformation process not only for protecting the climate, but also for economy, environment and society. Based on his experience as former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), he concluded that the focus of the transformation process should serve as an impulse from and for a globalized world.

High interest was put in the speech of Jochen Flasbarth (State Secretary, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety), who is currently working on the Climate Action Plan 2050. Flasbarth appealed for an “open and unbiased debate, which should also be challenging your own positions”.

A scientific approach towards the present situation of the transport sector and the resulting issues for the think tank were presented by Dr. Wiebke Zimmer (Deputy Head of Department for Resources and Mobility, Öko-Institut) and Christian Hochfeld (Director, Agora Verkehrswende). This debate serves as a good example for the future working processes of the think tank.

Afterwards Hochfeld discussed with Dr. Patrick Graichen (Director, Agora Energiewende) and Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer (Chairman, Agora Energiewende Council) the important issue of interconnecting the transformation processes in the energy and the transport sector as well as the interdependencies between both sectors. Töpfer underlined the fact that the transformation in the transport sector has to be more than just changing the vehicle technology of the automobile.

In the final discussion about the challenges, the opportunities and the visions of a decarbonization of the transport sector could come along with the following persons have been involved: Dr. Thomas Becker (Vice President Governmental and External Affairs, BMW Group), Andreas Gehlhaar (President Environmental Affairs, Deutsche Bahn), Winfried Hermann (Minister, Ministry of Transport Baden-Württemberg), Helge Pohls (Head of Division Energy and Climate Protection, Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure) and Oliver Wolff (Managing Director, Association of German Transport Companies).

The participants tried to find an answer on the question which indicators could be used to measure the success of the change in the transport sector.

The full video recording of the Agora Verkehrswende kick-off event is available at:


What we work for

City traffic all over the world will undergo fundamental changes. We show how environmentally friendly mobility and sustainable city development go hand in hand and can dramatically increase the quality of life in cities.

Land-based goods traffic will continue to grow rapidly. We are working to decarbonise it quickly. In particular, we are developing strategies focusing on relocation and efficiency improvement.

Electrification is the main option of the energy revolution for traffic. We are developing strategies to quickly transition traffic to electricity and fuels generated from electricity.

Digitisation will fundamentally change mobility as it makes a wide range of services possible. We are working to tap its potential for the transport transformation.

The success of the energy revolution depends on the successful linking of the electricity and transport sector. We are analysing the opportunities and challenges. And we are formulating recommendations for the integration of the transport sector into the electricity sector.

Political and economic decisions concerning the decarbonisation of traffic must be made on solid scientific foundations. This is why we are working to continuously improve such data and scenarios.

The transformation of the transport sector and its players need reliable general conditions. We are formulating political proposals concerning the instruments that can be used to effectively and efficiently structure climate protection in the mobility sector.

The most significant motivator behind transforming the transport sector is climate protection. We will also demonstrate the direct value, new mobility services and products will provide to society and the economy.

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