"For a secure climate future": High-ranking guests at 30 years celebration of Potsdam Institute

06/30/2022 - High-ranking guests attended the 30th anniversary celebration of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) - from federal and Brandenburg politicians to a Nobel laureate. The institute, founded in 1992 and now employing a good 400 people, is needed more today than ever before in the worsening climate crisis, speeches said. The PIK Board of Directors thanked politicians as well as the scientists and all employees of PIK for their part in the success story.
"For a secure climate future": High-ranking guests at 30 years celebration of Potsdam Institute
Physics Nobel laureate Klaus Hasselmann, one of the founding fathers of the institute, his wife Susanne and PIK Director Ottmar Edenhofer during the ceremony. Photo: PIK / Benjamin Kriemann

"Congratulations - for 30 years the Potsdam Institute has been doing pioneering work," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a video message. "I can say from personal experience that your work has been instrumental in shaping the European Green Deal, and continues to do so." PIK directors have long worked closely with the European Commission in support of the Green Deal.

Brandenburg's Minister of Science, Research and Culture, Manja Schüle, has been a longtime companion of PIK - the state provides the chair of the board of trustees and half of the institute's core funding. "Whether it's dwindling sea ice in the Arctic or increasing drought damage and forest fires in Brandenburg - the effects of man-made climate change are a global as well as regional challenge. The scientific expertise for this comes from Potsdam's Telegrafenberg: "PIK, with its global network, its interdisciplinary climate impact research and the resulting solutions for society, politics and the economy, stands for excellent research, high-profile policy advice and international appeal," explained Schüle, who spoke at the ceremony. "30 years of PIK are 30 years of success story. We owe them largely to the tireless and passionate commitment of founding director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. And I am grateful to his successors Ottmar Edenhofer and Johan Rockström for successfully developing PIK into a 'global player' in interdisciplinary climate research. Brandenburg can be proud that the internationally renowned institute is at home with us."

Ottmar Edenhofer, Manja Schüle, Mike Schubert, Oliver Günther and Bettina Hörstrup. Photo: PIK / Benjamin Kriemann

"Tackling climate change is a human task. It will only succeed with innovations and excellent scientific advice. For 30 years, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has been making an important contribution to this with its research. For this, I would like to express my sincere thanks to all employees of the Institute," said State Secretary Judith Pirscher of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. "The challenges have not become smaller over the years. That is why we will continue to build on their valuable work in the future." The Federal Ministry provides the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees and the other half of the basic funding. In addition, PIK is involved in numerous important research projects of the ministry, such as the major Copernicus project Ariadne on the energy transition.

Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office Anna Lührmann spoke at the ceremony as part of a panel discussion on "Science, Climate Policy and Geopolitical Risks." The high-ranking guests also included Martina Brockmeier, the new president of the Leibniz Association, of which PIK is a member. Potsdam's mayor, Mike Schubert, also honored PIK.

Panel discussion on science, climate policy and geopolitical risks with Anna Lührmann, Thomas Hertel, Kira Vinke and PIK Director Ottmar Edenhofer on the occasion of the 30th PIK anniversary.

One of the institute's founding fathers, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Klaus Hasselmann was in attendance. "We have known for 40 years that humans are changing the climate of our planet, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to prevent this," he said. "Therefore, research on the consequences of this change and the ways out of this crisis is of ever-increasing importance. So the founding of PIK 30 years ago was a step of great foresight, including by the then Federal Ministry of Research." At the ceremony, the PIK Board of Directors dedicated the institute's Great Hall to Klaus Hasselmann; it will be named after him in the future.

"We are deeply grateful to all our companions in politics and science for their continued support," said Bettina Hörstrup, Administrative Director of PIK. "Without them, our work would not be possible." Johan Rockström, the natural scientist on PIK's Board of Directors, said, "The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) was founded 30 years ago - since then, our knowledge of the risks of climate change has grown greatly, cue extreme weather and tipping elements, but at the same time, so has our knowledge of the solutions, the food sector and CO2 pricing. We are tackling these issues across disciplines." Economist Ottmar Edenhofer, joint PIK director with Rockström and Hörstrup, emphasized: "Excellent research is the basis of everything, but relevance comes from interaction with society. We want to provide knowledge for a secure climate future and give back as much as we can - with our scientific findings for the people of the country."


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