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Coal exit benefits outweigh its costs
23/03/2020 - Coal combustion is not only the single most important source of CO2, accounting for more than a third of global emissions, but also a major contributor to detrimental effects on public health and biodiversity. Yet, globally phasing out coal remains one of the hardest political nuts to crack. New computer simulations by an international team of researchers are now providing robust economic arguments for why it is worth the effort: For once, their simulations show that the world cannot stay below the 2 degrees limit if we continue to burn coal. Second, the benefits of phasing out coal clearly outweigh the costs. Third, those benefits occur mostly locally and short-term, which make them useful for policy makers.
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Coal phase-out: Announcing CO2-pricing triggers divestment
01/29/2018 - Putting the Paris climate agreement into practice will trigger opposed reactions by investors on the one hand and fossil fuel owners on the other hand. It has been feared that the anticipation of strong CO2 reduction policies might – a ‘green paradox’ – drive up these emissions: before the regulations kick in, fossil fuel owners might accelerate their resource extraction to maximize profits. Yet at the same time, investors might stop putting their money into coal power plants as they can expect their assets to become stranded. Now for the first time a study investigates both effects that to date have been discussed only separately. On balance, divestment beats the green paradox if substantial carbon pricing is credibly announced, a team of energy economists finds. Consequently, overall CO2 emissions would be effectively reduced.
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Coalition-building for pricing CO2 could make sense even for egoistic countries
02/26/2018 - Even countries that tend to act in an egoistic way in the long run have an incentive to participate in international climate stabilization pathways and couple CO2 pricing systems, a new game-theoretical study shows. Yet they might only do this if pioneer coalitions for pricing greenhouse gas emissions make the first steps. If this is the case, the egoistic countries temporarily enjoy the benefits of avoided climate change without paying for it, but in the longer term can join the pioneers and link to their already established models of CO2 pricing. Forming larger and larger coalitions always reaps additional benefits of avoided damages from climate change. These benefits, even though unequally distributed across the coalition members, can be distributed via financial transfers. This makes it attractive to join, even for egoistic countries.
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Connecting the dots between risks and solutions: Policy design for the Anthropocene
10/01/2019 - From climate change to biodiversity, land-system changes or altered biogechemical cycles – to prevent the world from overstepping critical planetary boundaries and to tackle global, long-run, and interconnected environmental risks, a comprehensive policy framework is needed. An international team of researchers now combines insights of natural and social sciences in a perspective piece just published in Nature Sustainability, one of the outlets of the leading scientific journal. They analyze guiding principles for such a policy design to keep Earth within biophysical limits favorable to human life. Among the authors are Earth System researcher Johan Rockström and climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer, who form the new joint - and interdisciplinary - leadership of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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COP25 climate summit: "weak outcome"
15.12.2019 - This weekend, the world climate summit COP25 in Madrid ran overtime to come to much debated decisions. Together, the two Directors of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research issued a statement to comment on the outcome. "This is a minimum compromise," says Earth system scientist Johan Rockström. Climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer adds: "The weak outcome of COP25 is sad but no surprise. It highlights that the next world climate summit in Glasgow really needs to be the turning point it is scheduled to be in the 2015 Paris Agreement timetable."
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COP25: PIK experts in Madrid
02.12.2019 - "Time for Action": About 25,000 delegates from all over the world are expected to attend the UN Climate Conference COP25 from December 2-13 in Madrid, Spain. "We stand at a critical juncture in our collective efforts to limit dangerous global heating", UN General Secretary António Guterres said at the Opening Ceremony of COP25 in the Spanish Capital. "Millions throughout the world – especially young people – are calling on leaders from all sectors to do more, much more, to address the climate emergency we face. They know we need to get on the right path today, not tomorrow. That means important decisions must be made now," he stressed in his remarks.
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Corona crisis fuels hate against Chinese on Twitter: Commentary
19/05/2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic has the world firmly in its grip with millions of confirmed cases worldwide and whole countries in full or partial lockdown. Despite calls for solidarity across borders and countless local support initiatives, various incidents prove that the corona outbreak has also given rise to a series of racist attacks against Chinese people and people with Asian looking features both on the streets and in social media networks. A team of researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has now investigated the use of discriminating language against Chinese people in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic on Twitter.
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Decarbonizing the power sector: renewable energy offers most benefits for health and environment
19/11/2019 - Electricity supply is one of the biggest CO2 emitters globally. To keep global warming well below 2°C, several paths lead to zero emissions in the energy sector, and each has its potential environmental impacts - such as air and water pollution, land-use or water demand. Using a first-time combination of multiple modelling systems, an international team of researchers led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has now quantified the actual benefits and downsides of three main roads to decarbonisation. They show that relying mainly on wind and solar would bring most co-benefits for the health of people and planet. Switching to carbon capture and storage in combination with fossil and biomass resources, in turn, is likely to convey significant environmental costs by devouring large areas at the cost of biodiversity, and by releasing pollutants to the environment.
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