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An Economic Case for the UN Climate Targets: Early and strong climate action pays off

07/13/2020 - Climate action is not cheap – but climate damages aren’t, either. So what level of climate action is best, economically speaking? This question has puzzled economists for decades, and in particular since the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics went to William Nordhaus, who found 3.5 degrees of warming by 2100 might be an economically desirable outcome. An international team of scientists led by the Potsdam Institute has now updated the computer simulation model used to come to this conclusion with latest data and insights from both climate science and economics. They found that limiting global warming to below 2 degrees strikes an economically optimal balance between future climate damages and today’s climate mitigation costs. This would require a price of CO2 of more than 100 US Dollar per ton.
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Shaping the energy transition together: Kopernikus project Ariadne launched

07/03/2020 - From our energy supply to the industry and the Paris climate targets, from individual sectors to the big picture: a network of leading research institutions is now starting an unparalleled research process focused on shaping the German energy transition. The Ariadne project aims at improving our understanding of the impact of different policy instruments in order to develop sound strategies for change. From the very beginning, a comprehensive dialogue between decision-makers from politics, business, and civil society will be a core part of the project.
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Climate research informing global finance: Scenarios can serve as yardstick for central banks’ risk assessment

06/24/2020 – Stability is at the core of central banks’ objectives. To assess climate destabilization risks, major central banks and supervisors plan to utilise climate scenarios developed by a team of researchers led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. These scenarios will inform the climate stress tests that central banks like the Bank of England or the Banque de France are planning to apply to the financial institutions they regulate. The work was commissioned by the “Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System” (NGFS), a group of 66 central banks and supervisors around the globe which aims to develop climate risk management in the financial sector.
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Berlin Climate and Security Conference Kicks Off Major New Risk Assessment

06/23/2020 - Climate destabilization increases risks to peace and security - to address these risks, scientists and policy-makers are teaming up to find solutions. The Berlin Climate and Security Conference (BCSC) is the global meeting place for leaders from governments, international organisations, the scientific community, the private sector and civil society to explore how climate change is impacting peace and security—and what action the international community can take to tackle climate-fragility risks. This year the high-level event, which features statements from over 14 foreign ministers, heads of state, and UN chiefs, explores the steps necessary to ensure we build a climate- and conflict-sensitive post-Covid world. It is organised by the German Federal Foreign Office, in partnership with adelphi and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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Museum für Naturkunde & PIK launch Summer School for Climate Knowledge

06/19/2020 - At the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, interested guests can use the summer holidays to strengthen their knowledge of the climate and its effects - and young people from all over Germany can take part online. The summer school is taking place in cooperation with researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and for the first time digitally. The easy-to-understand lectures and workshops complement each other, but can also be attended individually.
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Excellency rewarded

June 2020 - The research of two young scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has recently been awarded for its excellence: Xiaoxi Wang wins China Council Scholarship, Andrew McConnell receives prize from Oxford's Martin School.
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Making sense of climate scenarios: toolkit for decision-makers launched

03/06/2020 - To make climate scenarios work for decision-makers, an international team of researchers developed a comprehensive interactive online platform. It is the first of its kind to provide the tools to use those scenarios – from climate impacts to mitigation and energy options – to a broader public beyond science. The scenarios help policy makers and businesses, finance actors and civil society alike to assess the threat of global warming and ways to limit it.
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From artificial meat to fine-tuning photosynthesis: Food System Innovation – and how to get there

19/05/2020 - Food production has always shaped the lives of humans and the surface of the Earth. Be it plough or refrigerator, time and again innovations have transformed the ways we grow, process, and consume food over the last millennia. Today, with almost 40 per cent of all land on Earth used for food production, the food system massively impacts climate and environment – from nitrogen flows to water use, from biodiversity to greenhouse gas emissions. In a new study published in the journal NatureFOOD, an international team of researchers has now assessed and categorised key innovations with a potential to transform the food system, from artificial meat or seafood to biofortified crops or improved climate forecasts – and established what is most needed to make them succeed.
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Five years after the Paris Agreement: Large gap between promises and current implementation

29/04/2020 - Achieving the overall goals of the Paris Agreement will require a deep reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions, ideally by around 40%–50% by 2030. However, current national implementation of climate policies remains insufficient, yielding only around 5.5% reduction in emissions by 2030. The study was coordinated by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Utrecht University in cooperation with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and was published in Nature Communications. The findings are a contribution to the global evaluation of the Paris Agreement, held during the next three years.
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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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Homeschooling: Researchers support online learning with explanatory videos

01/04/2020 - As schools are closed due to the corona crisis, the Potsdam Institute offers special online lectures for children and young people as a small contribution to learning at home. Explanatory videos conveying some basics about the climate are intended to provide inspiration for the many hours spent at the desk at home instead of in the classroom. The films are created by the scientists themselves - a little handout from the research team in home office to young viewers in home schooling.
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Eurogroup Finance Ministers debate with Edenhofer

17/02/2020 - The Eurogroup Finance Ministers invited climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer to speak at their Brussels meeting this Monday. They expect him to “bring a fresh perspective” based on his “important contributions to the research and public debate on the economics of the climate transition”. Edenhofer, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, will talk about environmental taxation that could help both climate stabilization and social equity.
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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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Ten PIK researchers among the most influential scientists worldwide: ranking

29.11.2019 - According to a new Clarivate ranking, ten scientists from all research areas of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) are among the most cited researchers worldwide. This places them among the most influential scientists in the world, and their studies rank among the top 1% of scientific literature. Whether natural or social sciences, PIK is among the most renowned research institutions in Germany and worldwide, as the recently published ranking shows.
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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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Just 15 years of post-Paris emissions to lock in 20 cm of sea level rise in 2300: study

5.11.2019 - Unless governments significantly scale up their emission reduction efforts, the 15 years’ worth of emissions released under their current Paris Agreement pledges alone would cause 20 cm of sea-level rise over the longer term, according to new research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
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PIK and MCC deliver detailed assessment of German climate package

14/10/2019 - The climate protection programme adopted by the Federal Government last week, which is intended to limit greenhouse gas emissions especially in the transport and heating sectors, is unlikely to be sufficient to achieve the 2030 climate targets. Policymakers need to make four particular adjustments: first, they need to raise the level of ambition for the carbon price; second, they need to improve social balance; third, they need to develop further its integration with the EU level; and fourth, they need to introduce an effective monitoring process. This is the core message of a detailed assessment of the climate package, presented by the Berlin climate research institute MCC (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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Leibniz PhD General Assembly gathers at PIK

26/09/2019 - PhD students from all disciplines of the Leibniz Association are gathering this week in Potsdam to discuss their research, exchange ideas and network. Hosted by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the two day Leibniz PhD Network General Assembly brings together doctoral researchers for an elaborate programme including talks, discussions and the election of spokespersons. The students were welcomed by Ingo Bräuer, head of PIK's science coordination and transfer, at PIK on Telegrafenberg Science Campus.
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Gunnar Luderer appointed Professor for Global Energy Systems Analysis at TU Berlin

02/09/2019 - Dr Gunnar Luderer, doctor of physics and atmospheric scientist, has been appointed to the newly created Chair of Global Energy Systems Analysis at the Technical University of Berlin. The chair is jointly funded by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Institute for Energy Technology at the Technical University of Berlin. Prof Luderer will work primarily in the field of energy system transformation and the worldwide transformation towards sustainable energy systems.
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PIK and MCC contribute to Climate Policy Special Report for German government

12.07.2019 - The special report, which the German Chancellor received from the “Five Sages” of the German Council of Economic Experts today, is based to a significant extent on a comprehensive analysis by the Berlin climate research institute MCC (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). On Thursday, the so-called Climate Cabinet, with the leaders of the chancellery and six ministries, will discuss a fundamental realignment of climate mitigation measures based on the special report. MCC and PIK Director Ottmar Edenhofer and the Chairman of the Council of Experts, Christoph Schmidt, will present their proposals as scientific advisers at the meeting in the presence of the German Chancellor.
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What Counts for Our Climate: Carbon Budgets Untangled

18/07/2019 - The more CO2 we emit from burning coal and oil and gas, the more we heat our climate – this sounds simple, and it is. Different analyses have come up with different estimates of how much CO2 humankind can still emit if we want to hold global warming to the internationally agreed 1.5 and well below 2 degrees Celsius limits, but a lack of clarity of the reasons causing these variations has created unnecessary confusion, a new study shows. It identifies the relevant factors that affect estimates of these remaining carbon budgets and thereby untangles the differences to make estimates more easily comparable, which will help decision-makers in using them. From a climate policy perspective, the bottom line remains the same. Even if the remaining carbon budget for limiting warming to 1.5°C would increase by a half, we would have only 10 years more time before emissions have to be brought down to net zero.
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Sea level rise: West Antarctic ice collapse may be prevented by snowing ocean water onto it

18/07/2019 - The ice sheet covering West Antarctica is at risk of sliding off into the ocean. While further ice-sheet destabilisation in other parts of the continent may be limited by a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the slow, yet inexorable loss of West Antarctic ice is likely to continue even after climate warming is stabilised. A collapse might take hundreds of years but will raise sea levels worldwide by more than three meters. A team of researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is now scrutinising a daring way of stabilising the ice sheet: Generating trillions of tons of additional snowfall by pumping ocean water onto the glaciers and distributing it with snow canons. This would mean unprecedented engineering efforts and a substantial environmental hazard in one of the world’s last pristine regions – to prevent long-term sea level rise for some of the world’s most densely populated areas along coastlines from the US to China.
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“New Market Design is needed”: lessons to learn from renewable energy regulation in California and Germany

09.07.2019 - Important lessons can be learned from the two global frontrunners in the energy transition, Germany and California, a new report shows. Being the 4th biggest and 5th biggest economies worldwide, both jurisdictions draw more than 30 percent of their electricity from wind and solar and biomass, both have ambitious renewables targets of 80 and 100 percent by mid-century. An international team of scientists from Germany and the US now analyzed Californian and German policy pathways to draw conclusions for the way ahead. They find that market and renewable policy design adjustments in both jurisdictions to integrate the first 30 percent were small compared to the adjustments needed to integrate the second 30 percent. Importantly, strengthening CO2-pricing and policies to foster electrification must be an integral part of this.
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CO2-pricing: German chancellor Angela Merkel visited PIK for a scientific briefing

14/06/2019 - For more than two hours, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) last Thursday, June 13th, to discuss climate change and climate policy with Director Ottmar Edenhofer and other researchers. A special focus of the meeting lay on options for an effective and fair CO2 pricing. Besides Mrs Merkel, Minister of State to the Federal Chancellor, Helge Braun, spokesman State Secretary Steffen Seibert and experts from the Chancellery also took part. A good two dozen researchers from all research departments at PIK were involved in the round table discussion taking place the Great Cupola of PIK's historic Michelson building and presented research results on climate risks and possible solutions for the climate crisis.
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First conference for research software in Germany

11/06/2019 - After the success of the first three international conferences of Research Software Engineers (RSEs) in Great Britain, the first conference in Germany on the topic of research software took place from 4 to 6 June 2019 in the Albert Einstein Science Park in Potsdam. Research Software Engineers (RSEs) are people who develop research software, regardless of their job title and degree. Some 200 attendees from Germany and other parts of Europe took part in the fully booked conference: a broad mix of researchers from various fields, experts in software funding and financing, developers and software service providers. Organizers were Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI) - Fachbereich Softwaretechnik (SWT), de-RSE e.V. - Gesellschaft für Forschungssoftware, the Potsdam Research Centre of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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German coal phase-out could be in vain without CO2-pricing

04/06/2019 - It cannot be taken for granted that Germany’s plan to phase out coal by 2038 will actually decrease CO2 emissions on the European level. On the contrary, the phase-out could even increase emissions due to a complicated new mechanism in the European Emissions Trading Scheme, a team of researchers shows in a new analysis. To make sure the coal phase-out really helps stabilise the climate, it must be combined with a minimum price for CO2 or the cancellation of existing emission certificates.
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Dutch royal couple visits Telegrafenberg

05/22/2019 - King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands visited the Albert Einstein Science Park on Potsdam's Telegrafenberg during their stay in the State of Brandenburg today. In the presence of Brandenburgs Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke and Minister of Science Martina Münch, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the GeoResearchCenter (GFZ) signed cooperation agreements with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and TU Delft. The agreements are on geothermal research and research on weather extremes.
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The Long Night of the Sciences at PIK

20/05/2019 - In a few weeks, over 60 scientific institutions will be opening their doors to the public all across Berlin and Potsdam-Telegrafenberg. On June 15th from 17-24h, events will cover the natural sciences, engineering, social and cultural studies, medicine and much more. Whether it’s in lectures, science shows or in hands-on experiments, there is much to discover and to learn at the Long Night of the Sciences. Here is some information on the programme at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK):
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Climate mitigation can – and must – include policies to assure food security

13/05/2019 – Policies that aim at limiting dangerous climate change need to account for food security issues. For the first time, tradeoffs between climate mitigation and food security have now been analyzed in a so-called multi-model assessment: many different computer simulations dealing with the same issue. The costs for food-smart climate policies are around 0.2% of global economic output in 2050, an international team of scientists. However, carelessly designed climate policy could increase the number of people at risk of hunger, at least compared to a baseline scenario, according to the study now published in Nature Sustainability. Compared to today, the number of people at risk of hunger is likely to sink in all scenarios studied. Yet if no climate policy at all would be implemented, the resulting risks for crop failure due to droughts and floods might also lead to hunger and costs. Including these impacts of extreme events is a challenge for future research.
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Greta Thunberg visits PIK at Telegrafenberg-Campus

03.04.2019 - Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden recently visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Thunberg and Luisa Neubauer, the 22-year-old activist of the German „Fridays for Future“-Movement, met with the Directors Johan Rockström and Ottmar Edenhofer and other experts from PIK. They discussed topics like the Paris Agreement and the latest insights from climate science and talked with scientists like Ricarda Winkelmann, Stefan Rahmstorf or Jessica Strefler, as well as PIK Director Emeritus Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, about their research at the institute.
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