Charlotte Unger

Research Institute for Sustainability Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (RIFS)

Charlotte Unger is an AGI/DAAD Research Fellow from May to July 2023.

Dr. Unger is a Senior Research Associate at the Research Institute for Sustainability Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (RIFS). She holds a PhD in political sciences from the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Her work focuses on global climate governance, innovative climate alliances, carbon markets, and climate policy in Germany, the EU, and the United States. She also managed the scientific groundwork for the Berlin Climate Citizens Assembly and represents the RIFS in national and international climate fora, e.g., the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Charlotte draws from many years of experience in the field of environmental policy, gained in civil society, governmental, and scientific institutions.

Her current research is motivated by the state of international climate politics: As countries’ national pledges are not ambitious enough to achieve the Paris Agreement’s climate goals, an increasing number of additional global climate initiatives, pledges, and clubs have emerged. These innovative initiatives are often transnational and usually focus on a specific sector (e.g., the Global Methane Pledge) or group of actors. Also, initiatives which originally were aimed at other issue areas, such as trade, economics, and security, are increasingly active in climate policy (e.g., G7). Dr. Unger researches these initiatives from a comparative, case studies perspective to discover their contributions to the global climate regime. Further, she is interested in what drives countries to launch and be active in these alliances, specifically the United States, EU, and Germany, but also countries from the Global South.

During her stay at the American-German Institute, she will look at innovative climate initiatives in which the United States, Germany, and the EU have a leading role, such as the Global Methane Pledge and an emerging alliance on steel. For the latter, several initiatives were announced from different sides: The United States announced a “Global Arrangement on Steel” at the end of 2022 together with the EU. Germany pushed the launch of a climate club under the G7, which will also focus on the steel sector. Dr. Unger will particularly look at the differences between the United States and Germany (and the EU); e.g., why, the Global Methane Pledge seems to have gained much importance in the United States, whereas in Germany the topic has hardly gotten any political attention. For the steel initiative, she asks how governments will make sure to create an effective alliance that coordinates rather than competes with parallel similar proposals. An overall question to be tackled is: What effect do these initiatives have on transatlantic relations—i.e., are they also aimed at building a block against supposedly climate policy laggards or otherwise market competitors like China?

Recent Content


A Limping Coalition of the Willing

Why is Transatlantic Cooperation on Clean Steel Lagging Behind? The 2020s have arrived as a decade of multiple crises. Beyond their devastating impact, however, these crises have also changed our …

Charlotte Unger, DAAD/AGI Research Fellow

Charlotte Unger is a DAAD/AGI Research Fellow from May to July 2023. Dr. Unger is a Senior Research Associate at the Research Institute for Sustainability Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (RIFS). She …

A G7 Climate Club to Booster Transatlantic Relations?

Since January, Germany has held the presidency of the Group of 7 (G7). In line with its own national priorities, the German government announced ambitious climate policy goals for its …