How will Synthetic Biology provide sustainable solutions to the climate crisis?
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our times, with tremendous threat to the sustainability of humankind and ecosystems worldwide. In order to limit global warming to well below 2°C according to the Paris Climate Agreement requires enormous reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Since >80% of the emissions are ascribed to fossil -based fuels and industry, as well as food production, there is an urgent need to reconsider today’s traditional structures and practices in these sectors. Synthetic Biology is a relatively recent technological field that enables engineering of existing biological systems or designing new ones with the objective of harnessing them for providing new solutions to global manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture and environment.
While there has been significant progress on the scientific front, the focus of this Theme at the Pufendorf IAS is to analyse the challenges (technical, scalability, economical, regulatory, legal, social, infrastructural, etc.) for realizing the potential of synthetic biology to address societal needs with particular focus on the climate crisis and recommend strategies for meeting those challenges.
About the Theme
Due to the multifaceted character of Synthetic Biology – with engineering, biological, legal and social sciences, the Theme gathers an interdisciplinary team of researchers representing expertise in biotechnology, gene editing, mathematics, computational sciences, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), automation, political science, and law.
The Theme will develop case studies to analyse the inherent research and development challenges on the production and implementation of engineered, predictable and scalable biological systems for production of fuels, chemicals and foods, with a potentially significant impact on addressing the climate crisis. It will provide a forum for discussions on political and legal issues related to large-scale implementation of synthetic Biology and engineering of microorganisms.