News

RD3 - Transformation Pathways
 

Overcoming barriers for climate policy: Short-term policies can bring long-term targets in reach

15.10.2018 - To make climate policy more stringent, a smart sequencing of measures is a promising option. An international team of researchers now proposes a framework for doing so using policy sequencing – experiences from Germany and California serve as examples. Specific policy options at early stages enable more ambitious policies at later stages by removing or relaxing barriers that prevented their implementation. This might be a usefull approach for for the design of long term policies such as the currently debated German coal phase out.
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Edenhofer again ranked amongst Germany’s top economists

09/03/2018 – Ottmar Edenhofer has once again been ranked one of Germany’s leading economists by the national daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He is the only climate expert who made it into the top 20. In the category of scientific quotations, Edenhofer now reached the 4th rank. In the overall ranking which is based on a number of broader criteria, he is ranked 12. Later this month, Edenhofer will become one of the two new Directors of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He is also Professor at Technische Universität Berlin and Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change.
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Flipping the switch: making use of carbon price dollars for health and education

07/16/2018 - While health systems, clean water and education are a plain given in many parts of the world, millions of people still do not have sufficient access to these basic public goods. In fact, carbon prices could make substantial financial resources available for succeeding with the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations, a team of scientists now finds. At the same time, carbon pricing could be a central contribution to meet global climate targets and limit global warming to well below 2°C until the end of the century.
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Potsdam experts in the German Coal Commission

07/13/2018 - The coal commission established by Germany’s Federal Government is seeking input from, amongst others, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. This Friday, the chief economist and director designate of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Ottmar Edenhofer, gave a presentation in the panel. The focus was on the possibilities of a rapid reduction of greenhouse gases in the German energy system, to stabilize our climate. The acting Director and founder of PIK, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, is a full member of the 'Commission for Growth, Structural Change and Employment' – the official name of the committee –, and will be one of those to decide on its outcome at the end of the year.
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New Report “The World in 2050”: Sustainable development experts meet in New York

07/10/2018 - From education and health to responsible consumption, a decarbonized energy-system, agriculture, sustainable cities and digitalization - six transformations are necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations, a new report by leading experts in the field finds. Published at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York this week, the new report prepared by The World in 2050 (TWI2050) initiative outlines the key points that are necessary to bring the world on target to a sustainable future. More than 60 authors and 20 organizations were involved in the report, among them Johan Rockström, current Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and designated Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), as well as PIK researchers Elmar Kriegler, Hermann Lotze-Campen and Alexander Popp.
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„Scientific foundation for the Paris Agreement“: UNFCCC head Espinosa laudates climate economist Edenhofer

07/05/2018 - In recognition of his outstanding contributions to tackling the climate challenge, Ottmar Edenhofer has been awarded with the Romano Guardini Prize of the Catholic Academy in Bavaria. As chief economist and designated Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) as well as Founding Director of the Mercator Research Institute for Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), Edenhofer has both advanced the science and served as a political advisor. The Prize has been handed over in Munich in a festive ceremony attended by more than 200 high-ranking guests from politics, science, business, and religion.
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Clean power is not enough: More climate action in industry, transport and building sectors needed to meet Paris climate targets

06/25/2018 - Coal power versus wind and solar energy – debates about the Paris climate targets often centre around electricity supply. Yet, even in a world of stringent climate policies and a clean power generation, the remaining use of fossil fuels in industry, transport and heating in buildings could still cause enough CO2 emissions to endanger the climate targets agreed on by the international community, an international team of researchers finds. Published in Nature Climate Change, their elaborate study is the first to focus specifically on the residual fossil fuel emissions from sectors that are not as easily decarbonized as power generation.
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Spacefood for cows: Industrial microbes could feed cattle, pigs and chicken with less damage to the environment

06/20/2018 - Deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, nitrogen pollution – today’s agricultural feed cultivation for cattle, pigs and chicken comes with tremendous impacts for the environment and climate. Cultivating feed in industrial facilities instead of on croplands might help to alleviate the critical implications in the agricultural food supply chain. Protein-rich microbes, produced in large-scale industrial facilities, are likely to increasingly replace traditional crop-based feed. A new study now published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology for the first time estimates the economic and environmental potential of feeding microbial protein to pigs, cattle and chicken on a global scale. The researchers find that by replacing only 2 percent of livestock feed by protein-rich microbes, more than 5 percent of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, global cropland area and global nitrogen losses could each be decreased.
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Mix it: Policy combination needed to achieve climate targets along with sustainable development goals

06/20/2018 - A broad combination of policies might be best suited to help achieve both climate stabilization targets as well as most of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These policies reach from straightforward CO2 pricing to regulation of water and forest protection, to lifestyle changes such as eating less meat, a new study shows. The scientists highlight the complex interplay between the different targets. A policy focused only on CO2 pricing would cost the least, they show, but would likely trigger substantial land-use changes.
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PIKturing our future: The young scientists’ visions for the institute

06/05/2018 - Once a year, the doctoral candidates of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) gather to discuss their research and exchange ideas. This year’s "PhD day" aimed at giving young scientists the possibility to think about and discuss their visions, wishes and ideas for the future of the institute. What do young scientists need to be able to perform excellent science? In what areas do they need more support and in what way? How can they interact with society during their work?
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Experts meet at Global Solutions Summit in Berlin

06/05/2018 - More than 1100 policy thinkers and policy leaders from all around the world came together recently at the Global Solutions Summit in Berlin to discuss crucial topics for global governance in the context of the next G20 summits in Argentina and Japan. Official delegates from the T20 Argentina and the T20 Japan, Nobel Laureates and high level speakers like German Chancellor Angela Merkel participated in the Berlin Summit of think tanks, policy makers, business leaders and NGOs.
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China floods to hit US economy: climate effects through trade chains

05/28/2018 - Intensifying river floods could lead to regional production losses worldwide caused by global warming. This might not only hamper local economies around the globe – the effects might also propagate through the global network of trade and supply chains, a study now published in Nature Climate Change shows. It is the first to assess this effect for flooding on a global scale, using a newly developed dynamic economic model. It finds that economic flood damages in China, which could, without further adaption, increase by 80 percent within the next 20 years, might also affect EU and US industries. The US economy might be specifically vulnerable due to its unbalanced trade relation with China. Contrary to US president Trump’s current tariff sanctions, the study suggests that building stronger and thus more balanced trade relations might be a useful strategy to mitigate economic losses caused by intensifying weather extremes.
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Wealth inequality: closing the gap by taxing land and bequests

22/03/2018 - To reduce wealth inequality without diminishing the economic performance of a country, a policy package of bequest taxes and land value taxes could be the optimal solution. Such a policy package would, in fact, have a strong advantage over corporate taxation, a new study published in the journal International Tax and Public Finance finds. It is the first analysis to include the so far neglected factor of land for tackling wealth inequality. Land is of great interest for studying inequality as climate change might increase land prices and thereby affect housing costs. The cost increase could be countered by smart taxes that would at the same time reduce overall inequality in a country, and hence possibly help to reduce tensions in society that are amplified by populism.
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"Consulted by the Pope": Catholic Academy of Bavaria honours climate economist Edenhofer

05/16/2018 - The Catholic Academy of Bavaria honours the climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer with its Romano Guardini Prize. "As a renowned economist, committed political advisor, and public admonisher, Ottmar Edenhofer has restlessly pointed to climate change as one of the most pressing problems on Earth, and has proposed concrete solutions," the Academy explained. "Not least Pope Francis was seeking Ottmar Edenhofer’s advice repeatedly and intensively for his encyclical Laudato Si. Both are convinced that environmental degradation and poverty are closely intertwined problems that can only be resolved together in the 'concern about our common house'.” Edenhofer is Chief Economist and designated new Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), a member of Leibniz Association; as well he is Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) and Professor at Technische Universität Berlin (TUB).
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PIK experts at the intersessional climate conference in Bonn

11/05/2018 - In the run-up to this year´s UN climate conference in Katowice in Poland, about 3000 experts and observers met in Bonn to discuss how to implement the Paris Agreement which is to enter into force in 2020. Two key elements of these “intersessionals” were the progress in advancing the Paris Agreement “rulebook”, and the initial in-person phase of the Talanoa dialogue that was introduced at COP23 last year. Several scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) took part in various meetings and presentations in Bonn.
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Bankers, UN and scientists help assess climate risks for finance

04/26/2018 - Together, 16 banks, the United Nations, business consultants and scientists produced first guidance to help the financial industry become more transparent on climate-related risks and opportunities. The report they jointly published, entitled “Extending our horizons”, is based on economic scenarios provided by the Potsdam Instititute for Climate Impact Research, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, and the International Energy Agency. The innovative methodology will support banks to implement the ground-breaking recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (FSB TCFD). It focuses on changes that the transition to a low-carbon economy will present to businesses. A complementary report on the physical impacts of climate change for businesses is planned for release in late June.
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Girls'Day: PIK opens up doors and new perspectives to young and female future scientists

26/04/2018 - At this year's Girls'Day, schoolgirls from Berlin and Brandenburg had once again the opportunity to get to know the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and career perspectives in science. About their research on climate change and their work as a researcher at PIK, Levke Caesar and Christina Roolfs reported to the 19 pupils participating. The action day was initiated to open up new career perspectives in mathematical and the natural sciences for girls and young women.
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More than 14.000 Earth scientists meet in Vienna

06/04/2018 - The European Geophysical Union’s (EGU) general assembly in Vienna is one of the world's greatest scientific events – from 8 to 13 April, it attracts more than 14.000 scientists. Numerous experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) give talks and participate in debates. A distinguished role is attributed to Stefan Rahmstorf, co-chair of PIK’s Earth System Analysis department, research domain 1. He has been asked to hold the first-ever EGU public lecture at the Vienna Museum for Natural History: “After Paris: Can we still control the climate crisis?”
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Stock-take 2018: Rapid emissions reductions would keep CO2 removal and costs in check

03/29/2018 - Rapid greenhouse-gas emissions reductions are needed if governments want to keep in check both the costs of the transition towards climate stabilization and the amount of removing already emitted CO2 from the atmosphere. To this end, emissions in 2030 would need to be at least 20 percent below what countries have pledged under the Paris climate agreement, a new study finds – an insight that is directly relevant for the global stock-take scheduled for the UN climate summit in Poland later this year. Removing CO2 from the atmosphere through technical methods including carbon capture and underground storage (CCS) or increased use of plants to suck up CO2 comes with a number of risks and uncertainties, and hence the interest of limiting them.
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Enhanced weathering of rocks can help to suck CO2 out of the air – a little

03/06/2018 - Weathering of huge amounts of tiny rocks could be a means to reduce the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. While this is normally a slow natural process during which minerals chemically bind CO2, technological upscaling could make this relevant for so-called negative emissions to help limit climate risks. Yet, the CO2 reduction potential is limited and would require strong CO2 pricing to become economically feasible, according to the first comprehensive assessment of costs and possibilities now published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
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Social and Natural science together: New Co-Directors to lead the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

23/02/2018 - The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is reinventing itself – appointing a twin leadership bringing together natural sciences and social sciences stronger than ever. In late September, the German climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer and the Swedish Earth system scientist Johan Rockström will become directors of the internationally renowned institute which is a member of the Leibniz Association. This was decided on Friday by the institute's Board of Trustees, headed by the Brandenburg Ministry of Science, Research and Culture and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The retirement of the founding director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber this autumn after a quarter of a century as the head of the institute marks the beginning of a new era in Potsdam.
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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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PIK Research Days: “Keep digging in your pockets”

02/23/2018 - Scientists and staff of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) gathered this week for their annual roadshow of scientific achievements and discussions of future projects. Climate negotiations, climate migration, public health, sea-level legacy, jet streams, ice losses at Antarctica, carbon pricing – these were just some of the topics presented by PIK’s four research domains. This year’s research days focused in particular on the upcoming 1.5°C IPCC special report as well as on global change, big data and digitalization.
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Reports of coal’s terminal decline are premature

02/07/2018 - While less new coal-fired power plants are now being built in China and India, the planned expansion in the use of coal in fast-growing emerging economies, such as Turkey, Indonesia and Vietnam, will in part cancel out the reduction. Only if the countries of the world actively counteract this trend, they can achieve the climate goals agreed in the Paris Agreement. These are the results of the study “Reports of coal’s terminal decline may be exaggerated,” authored by researchers from the Potsdam Institute on Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), published in the journal Environmental Research Letters
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National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina appoints Edenhofer

01/31/2018 - Ottmar Edenhofer, Chief Economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, was elected member of the Leopoldina. The honouring is a special recognition of his scientific achievements and his personality, said Leopoldina President Jörg Hacker about Edenhofer, who is also Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons (MCC) and Professor of Economics of Climate Change at TU Berlin. The selection of a member for the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina follows strict standards and requires a broad agreement of the Extended Presidium.
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EU commissioner Stylianides visits PIK

01/24/2018 - The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) together with Director-General Monique Pariat and members of cabinet. He was interested in the latest climate research and particularly in prevention measures for the increasing risks of floods and forest fires due to climate change.
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Biomass plantations not compatible with planetary boundaries

01/22/2018 - Planting trees or grasses on a grand scale in plantations to extract CO2 from the atmosphere - this could make a long-term contribution to climate protection, but it would push the planet beyond ecological limits in other dimensions. A new study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in the journal Nature Climate Change now for the first time establishes a connection between ambitious international climate objectives and the more comprehensive concept of planetary boundaries. If biomass plantations in which plants bind carbon dioxide during growth are massively expanded, this would entail enormous risks for areas that are already stressed, such as biodiversity, biogeochemical flows, water resources and land use. According to the study, biomass as a means to capture and store CO2 can therefore only make a limited contribution. In order to stabilize the climate, a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of coal, oil and gas is crucial.
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Adaptation now: River flood risks increase around the globe under future warming

11/01/2018 - Rainfall changes caused by global warming will increase river flood risks across the globe. Already today, fluvial floods are among the most common and devastating natural disasters. Scientists have now calculated the required increase in flood protection until the 2040s worldwide, breaking it down to single regions and cities. They find that the need for adaptation is greatest in the US, parts of India and Africa, Indonesia, and in Central Europe including Germany. Inaction would expose many millions of people to severe flooding.
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PIK scientists at the Chaos Communication Congress 34C3

29/12/2017 - For four days between Christmas and New Year´s, thousands of hackers, experts and artists meet every year to exchange news and views and learn about new technological developments and tools. The 34th Chaos Communication Congress (34C3) takes place in Leipzig this year, the organizers expect more than 13.000 participants. Science is represented as well, this year also by experts of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) - climate change is one of this year´s main themes.
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Tiny ice losses at Antarctica’s fringes can accelerate ice loss far away

12/12/2017 - A thinning of small areas of floating ice at Antarctica’s coast can accelerate the movement of ice grounded on rocks hundreds of kilometers away, a new study shows. It is known that the ice shelves surrounding the continent regulate the ice flow from the land into the ocean. So far it was assumed that the ice flow is most vulnerable to melting at the base near the grounding line where the ice flows from land into the sea and becomes afloat. Now scientists found that also melting near the fringes and in the midst of the ice shelves can have direct effects reaching very far inland. This could increase ice loss and hence sea-level rise.
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