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"Safe and just corridor for people and planet": Earth Commission paper

Not transgressing the limits of the planet’s systems, being in line with the sustainable development goals: A new paper from a global team of scientists of the Earth Commission laid out its approach to defining a “safe and just corridor for people and planet” in a paper published in Earth’s Future. The “safe and just corridor” framework will assist the Earth Commission in quantifying what conditions for the planet’s systems avoid dangerous tipping points and ensure just sharing of risk, responsibilities and resources for all.
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Webinar: Tipping points for sustainability transitions

03/26/2021 - From the Brazilian rain forest to the Australian bushes and to the Antarctic glaciers, ecosystems are being destabilised by climate change and are at risk of reaching irreversible tipping points. Which way will things tip? How to manage tipping points as opportunities? Join our Climate Crisis webinar on March 30, leading to the Nobel Prize Summit 2021! With discussions by PIK Director Emeritus Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Tim Lenton (University of Exeter), Cameron Hepburn (University of Oxford), Marta Deldgado Peralta (Mexican Foreign Ministry); moderated by Oliver Morton (The Economist).
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The future of Lower Saxony: Expert report with PIK participation published

03/25/2021 - Climate change, advancing digitalization and demographic changes: These are just three examples of current social challenges for the future of Lower Saxony. On the initiative of the state government, an independent scientific commission with various researchers - including PIK researcher Hermann Lotze-Campen - has developed recommendations for the state. Today, the Commission Niedersachsen 2030 handed over its prepared report to the state government.
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Locked Houses, Fallow Lands: Climate change and migration in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India

03/25/2021 - Rising temperatures, cloud bursts, and dengue outbreaks: Climate change acts as a risk modifier influencing migration conditions in the Indian Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Employing the latest climate data, a new report created under the umbrella of the East African Peru India Climate Capacities (EPPIC) project examines how climate impacts such as changing rainfall patterns and increasing extreme weather events affect the state's mountain agriculture and migration processes. In today’s launch, researchers and panelists also discussed what policy measures are needed to manage migration flows and revitalize the economy.
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UN water prize for PIK researcher Zbigniew Kundzewicz

03/23/2021 - In a ceremony attended by UN Secetary General António Gutteres, a prestigious prize has been awarded to PIK researcher Zbigniew Kundzewicz from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany, and the Polish Academy of Sciences. It is one of this year's Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prizes for Water, sponsored by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the permanent mission of Saudi Arabia to the UN. Kundzewicz received the prize in the category “Surface Water”.
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State of the planet: This decade must bend the curves on emissions and biodiversity loss

03/22/2021 - Humanity is now the dominant force of change on our Earth – and human actions are threatening the resilience and stability of Earth’s biosphere, the wafer-thin veil around Earth where life thrives. This has profound implications for the development of civilizations, says an international group of researchers in a report published for the first Nobel Prize Summit, a digital gathering to be held in April to discuss the state of the planet in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Climate change affects global river flow

03/18/2021 - Human-induced climate change is likely a crucial driver of changes in the river flow at the global scale, a new study finds. To obtain these findings, an international team of scientists studied river water levels at more than 7000 monitoring stations between 1971 and 2010 and compared the observations with simulations from climate models – with unexpected results.
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Nobel Prize Summit ‘Our Planet, Our Future’: Registration Now Open

03/17/2021 - From Al Gore and Xiye Bastida to the Dalai Lama and Jennifer Doudna – these and many more renowned leaders will take part in the first Nobel Prize Summit, “Our Planet, Our Future”. The Summit will bring together Nobel Prize laureates and other committed minds in the sciences, policy, business, the youth movement, and the arts to explore actions that can be achieved this decade to put the world on a path to a more sustainable, more prosperous future for all. Registration is now open for the April 26-28 virtual summit, which is free and open to the public.
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When the flames are out, danger continues: Cascading effects of wildfires

03/15/2021 - After extreme weather events like droughts and wildfires, it often only takes small additional natural hazards like rainfall to trigger further disastrous cascading hazards, a new study finds. A team of scientists based in Potsdam and Berlin analyzed the devastating forest fires in Australia from 2019 to 2020, which - in their intensity and severity – are likely linked to human-made global warming. The researchers reveal that the following much needed rain caused severe further damage, gravely impacting both people and nature.
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Two CO2 prices are better than one - for now: suggestions for EU climate policy

03/09/2021 - A new policy mix with a CO2 price as the guiding instrument is needed to ensure that the European Union actually achieves its declared goal of climate neutrality by 2050. Three elements, two CO2 prices, one target - that's what economists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel are now proposing in a new policy paper. Since it is politically and institutionally challenging to quickly introduce an all-encompassing CO2 pricing scheme for all sectors, two different but linked pricing systems should initially run in parallel – and be supported by additional instruments. In the long term, these elements are to merge into a single comprehensive and robust CO2 price, with the single goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively and to limit climate risks to people and the economy.
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Press Release

Limiting water stress risks: irrigation management key for bioenergy production to mitigate climate change

03/08/2021 - To avoid a substantial increase in water scarcity, biomass plantations for energy production need sustainable water management, a new study shows. Bioenergy is frequently considered one of the options to reduce greenhouse gases for achieving the Paris climate goals, especially if combined with capturing the CO2 from biomass power plants and storing it underground. Yet growing large-scale bioenergy plantations worldwide does not just require land, but also considerable amounts of freshwater for irrigation – which can be at odds with respecting Earth’s Planetary Boundaries. Scientists now calculated in their to date most detailed computer simulations how much additional water stress could result for people worldwide in a scenario of conventional irrigation and one of sustainable freshwater use.
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Gulf Stream System at its weakest in over a millennium

02/25/2021 - Never before in over 1000 years the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), also known as Gulf Stream System, has been as weak as in the last decades. This is the result of a new study by scientists from Ireland, Britain and Germany. The researchers compiled so-called proxy data – taken mainly from natural archives like ocean sediments or ice cores – reaching back many hundreds of years to reconstruct the flow history of the AMOC. They found consistent evidence that its slowdown in the 20th century is unprecedented in the past millennium – it is likely linked to human-caused climate change. The giant ocean circulation is relevant for weather patterns in Europe and regional sea-levels in the US; its slowdown is also associated with an observed ‘cold blob’ in the northern Atlantic.
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A constructive approach to climate protection: Potsdam Climate Council with PIK participation

02 / 22 / 2021 - Sociologist Fritz Reusswig of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has been appointed to the new Climate Council of the state capital Potsdam. Hosted by Bernd Rubelt, Councillor for Urban Development, Construction, Economy and Environment, the members introduced themselves to the public today . The Climate Council acts as a mediator, expert and facilitator for successful climate protection and aims to create a broad debate and visibility in the state capital Potsdam.
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Winter weather, a polar front – and areas of drought: PIK's assessment of the current weather situation.

02/12/2021 - In January and February of 2021, parts of Europe, America and also Germany have experienced partly extreme winter weather. Nevertheless, there are widespread large areas of drought especially in Germany - PIK researchers Stephan Rahmstorf and Fred Hattermann on current climate-related weather changes.
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Brandenburg state government appoints Edenhofer to its Sustainability Advisory Board

02/10/2021 - Ottmar Edenhofer will support the Brandenburg state government in the further development of its sustainability strategy. Together with five other representatives from science, industry and civil society, he was elected to the Sustainability Advisory Board, which advises the state of Brandenburg on current challenges such as climate change, equality of living conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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From droughts to floods: climate change and migration in Peru

02/10/2021 - Too much, too little water: People in Peru are increasingly experiencing climate extremes. If climate impacts like water-related hazards continue to accelerate, more climate-induced migration and severe pressure on people’s well-being could be the consequence. These are the key results of a comprehensive report by a team of natural and social scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that was presented today during a joint event.
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“Planetary Boundary Simulator”: New initiative aims to quantify the interactions between key components of the Earth system

02/08/2021 - To gather further insight into the processes that determine Earth's resilience against unprecedented change, the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has launched a new pilot project: The Potsdam Earth Model Planetary Boundaries Simulator (POEM-PBSim) will for the first time analyze the impacts of the interaction of planetary boundaries in the Earth System – and simulate the changes it is undergoing.
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Press Release

Erratic weather slows down the economy

02/08/2021 - If temperature varies strongly from day to day, the economy grows less. Through these seemingly small variations climate change may have strong effects on economic growth. This shows data analyzed by researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Columbia University and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC). In a new study in Nature Climate Change, they juxtapose observed daily temperature changes with economic data from more than 1,500 regions worldwide over 40 years – with startling results.
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Coal and COVID-19: How the pandemic is accelerating the end of fossil power generation

02/08/2021 - COVID-19 has not only caused a temporary drop in global CO2 emissions, it has also reduced the share of power generated by burning coal – a trend that could in fact outlast the pandemic. This is the key result of a new study by a team of economists based in Potsdam and Berlin that looked at COVID-19's impact on the energy system and demand for electricity. Their findings show that the pandemic, while putting a terrible toll on people’s lives and the economy, has also opened a window of opportunity to make this current trend of decreasing coal use irreversible: Supported by the right climate policy measures, power sector emissions could decline more rapidly than previously thought.
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Climate change may have played an important role in the emergence of SARS-CoV-2

02/05/2021 - Global greenhouse gas emissions have made the likely site of origin of SARS-CoV-2 in southern China a hotspot for bat-borne coronaviruses over the past century, by driving growth of forest habitat favoured by bats. This is the key finding of a new study by scientists from the University of Cambridge, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research PIK, and the University of Hawaii. Published today in the journal Science of the Total Environment, the researchers provide the first evidence of a mechanism by which climate change could have played a direct role in the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Climate change and conflict: PIK researchers give policy advice to the German government

02/03/2021 - Training programs on environmental peacebuilding, pooling international expertise to deal with acute risks of violence, and an even stronger focus on gender roles in crisis regions - these are some of the concrete recommendations for action made by the German government's advisory council for civilian crisis prevention and peacebuilding in its latest study on the interactions between climate impacts and security.
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PIK strengthens its position among the world's leading climate think tanks

02/01/2021 - The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) was again among the most influential think tanks in the field of environmental policy in 2020 as shown in this year's "Global Go Top Think Tank Index Report" published by the University of Pennsylvania. The ranking takes into account more than 6,500 institutions worldwide.
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Top 10 insights in climate science in 2020

01/27/2021 - Ten of the most important insights within the field of climate science 2020 have been presented today by UNFCCC's Secretary General Patricia Espinosa and an international team of scientists including Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Together, FutureEarth, Earth League and World Climate Research Programme compiled the "must-knows" list based on an ever-growing body of evidence, with annual installments since 2017. 57 scientists from 21 countries synthesized the latest sustainability research for the international science-policy community.
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Potsdam Summer School 2021 (online event): Water - Our Global Common Good

01/27/2021 - +++ Update: Due to the ongoing pandemic situation it has been decided to conduct it as an online event +++ "Water: Our Global Common Good - The Hydrosphere across Land and Sea" is the central topic of the Potsdam Summer School 2021 that will be held online this year. Experts, stakeholders, and guest lecturers from high level national and international institutes and organisations will contribute their insights at this exciting and unique opportunity to foster international cooperation and an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas. Applications are now open.
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New hope for the climate: Edenhofer & Rockström on Biden US Presidency

01/26/2021 - The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) puts hope in the start of Joe Biden's presidency after climate topics have been rather neglected for the last four years of from US side. PIK Director Ottmar Edenhofer explores the concept of carbon pricing as a possible tool for the new US administration and Johan Rockström, Director of PIK along with Ottmar Edenhofer, signed a global ambition letter together with known CEO'S - from Amazon to Ford Motor Company - and world climate leaders, calling on US President Joe Biden to be the climate leader that science demands.
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Deeper cooperation between PIK and BMZ

01/20/2021 - During today's kick-off event of the "Berlin Insights Series on Climate Change and Development", Johan Rockström from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and State Secretary Martin Jäger from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which marks the beginning of a deeper cooperation between PIK and BMZ.
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The idea of an environmental tax is finally gaining strength

01/20/2021 - An extra 290,000 pounds a year for lighting and cleaning because smog darkens and pollutes everything: with this cost estimate for the industrial city of Manchester, the English economist Arthur Cecil Pigou once founded the theory of environmental taxation. In the classic "The Economics of Welfare", the first edition of which was published as early as 1920, he proved that by allowing such "externalities" to flow into product prices, the state can maximise welfare. In 2020, exactly 100 years later, the political implementation of Pigou's insight has gained strength, important objections are being invalidated, and carbon pricing appears more efficient than regulations and bans according to a study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC). The study was published in the renowned journal International Tax and Public Finance.
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Pope Francis appoints Edenhofer to help in “Promoting Integral Human Development”

01/12/2021 - Ottmar Edenhofer will from now on advise the Vatican's “Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.” The Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) was appointed by Pope Francis, who created the institution just a few years ago. The dicastery's mission is to strengthen justice for refugees and stateless people who have had to leave their homes due to violence, economic crises or natural disasters, as well as promoting justice for the sick and poor.
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Climate change projected to double the number of people facing extreme drought

01/11/2021 - If current rates of global warming continue, up to 8 percent of the world's population – twice as many people as today – could be threatened by extreme droughts by the end of the 21st century. This is the key finding of a comprehensive study by an international team of scientists, including Jacob Schewe, Anne Gädecke, and Dieter Gerten from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Without effective climate change mitigation and resource maintenance, the authors argue, global water shortages could have disastrous ramifications.
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New app: “Climate time travel” as a test for future decisions

01/11/2021 - Anyone concerned about our future climate will soon be able to contribute to understanding the social dynamics of climate change by taking part in a “citizen science” experiment. In a donation-funded online simulation currently being developed by the non-profit company SCIARA in cooperation with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), users can playfully explore virtual climate futures, make decisions, and see the consequences. Based on the players' behavior, decision-makers in politics, business and society will ultimately be able to check climate protection measures for their social acceptance and effectiveness before they are implemented - in order to make effective decisions in the long term.
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