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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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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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Caring for the future is key for cooperation to prevent climate collapse: study

20/05/2020 - How much decision-makers care about the future and not just the present is one key factor for whether or not they take action to stabilize our climate. Another one is how severe they assume the impacts of climate collapse to be. However, the number of actors is decisive – for instance the number of relevant countries, since efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have to be international to add up to the amount needed to prevent a crisis. This is shown by a novel mathematical study. It finds a strong effect of diffusion of responsibility in scenarios with large numbers of actors. The study combines game theory and learning dynamics to explore which options for enhanced political cooperation should now urgently be studied empirically.
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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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Delayed monsoon onset in Central India: early warning forecast

12/05/2020 - Summer Monsoon in Central India will likely begin between 18th and 26 of June, according to the new early forecast developed at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Led by PIK expert Elena Surovyatkina, the Monsoon forecast method showed to be successful already four years in a row. With global warming the monsoon is changing, breaking well-established “rules” of the phenomenon and thus becoming more unpredictable. A raising demand for a new understanding of the Indian Monsoon in order to be better prepared makes long-term forecasting even more important.
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Sea level could rise more than 1 metre by 2100 if emission targets are not met, reveals survey amongst 100 experts

08/05/2020 - Global mean sea-level rise could exceed 1 metres by 2100 and 5 metres by 2300 with unchecked emissions, a survey among 100 leading international experts finds. The risk assessment is based on the increasing body of knowledge of the systems involved – while the scientists highlight the remaining uncertainties, they say it is clear now that previous sea-level rise estimates have been too low. The study led by scientists of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) appears today in the Nature partner journal Climate and Atmospheric Science.
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Petersberg Dialogue: Merkel speech on climate "an important reassurance"

29/04/2020 - This week, international decision-makers met online for the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Germany's head of government Angela Merkel in her speech reaffirmed her commitment to climate stabilization. "This is an important reassurance in the midst of the global health crisis", comment the Directors of the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research.
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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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G20 and climate: Edenhofer speaks at Global Solutions Summit

23/04/2020 - To advance the coupling of economic and environmental prosperity, leading thinkers and doers assembled at this year's Global Solutions Summit. PIK Director Ottmar Edenhofer was invited to deliver a keynote on what the G20 – the world’s largest economies – can do to prepare the road towards the next global climate summit COP26. The focus was on how to ensure functioning global carbon markets. Gunnar Luderer, also from the Potsdam Institute, participated in a panel debate on a circular carbon economy – in fact mitigation options such as storing or re-using CO2 emissions, or using biomass and renewables based-fuels.
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Digital Earth Day 2020: A Conversation between Greta Thunberg and Johan Rockström from the Nobel Museum

April 22, 2020 marked the 50th year since Earth Day was first organised to highlight major environmental challenges in the world. On that day, Greta Thunberg and Johan Rockström have met for a digital conversation about courage, solidarity and opportunities in times of crisis. Greta stressed the need to listen to the science – in both the Corona pandemic and the climate emergency. The talk was hosted by the Nobel Foundation and live-streamed from the Nobel Prize Museum, Stockholm. Over 600 people from all over the world have tuned in, a few thousand watched the recorded version on Youtube, and many media have covered it. The talk is still available online, see link below.
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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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Novel network analysis confirms: #stayathome helps limit virus mutations

16/04/2020 – Both the virus diseases of the 2013 Ebola regional epidemic and the current COVID-19 global pandemic have seen virus mutations between hosts – a normal phenomenon with the potential to turn viruses even more harmful. A team of scientists including researchers from Humboldt University and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has now employed advanced mathematical models to explore these dynamics. Their findings confirm public health responses like suspending long-haul travel, but also the call to stay at home. Further, they underline the importance of closely tracking genetic mutations during virus outbreaks to facilitate crisis response.
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Johan Rockström joins Daimler’s Advisory Board for Corporate Responsibility

Spring 2020 – Daimler, the automobile manufacturer, known for premium cars and the largest heavy vehicle producer in the world in the world, has called upon Johan Rockström to join its Advisory Board for Integrity and Corporate Responsibility. As one of nine independent members from science, civic organizations, and business, the Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) will offer his critical thinking to the change process the car industry is facing.
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Climate disasters increase risks of armed conflicts: new evidence

02/04/2020 - The risk for violent clashes increases after weather extremes such as droughts or floods hit people in vulnerable countries, an international team of scientists finds. Vulnerable countries are characterized by a large population, political exclusion of particular ethnic groups, and low development. The study combines global statistical analysis, observation data and regional case study assessments to yield new evidence 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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From forests to peatlands: once lost, ecosystem carbon stores might not be recoverable in time

01/04/2020 - Huge amounts of carbon are stored in ecosystems like peatlands, mangroves, old-growth forests and marshes, which play a crucial role for our Earth system. Once released due to land use changes like the conversion to agriculture, this carbon could be not be recoverable within time to avoid global warming beyond 1,5 degrees Celsius, a new study led by Conservation International shows. Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, is one of the authors. These land areas should be particularly protected, the researchers argue in the journal Nature Climate Change.
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Regional nuclear war a risk for global food security

16/03/2020 - Even a limited nuclear war could have dangerous effects far beyond the region that is fatally hit. It would result in global cooling that substantially reduces agricultural production in the world’s main breadbasket regions, from the US, to Europe, Russia, and China. The particular effect on food security worldwide including trade responses has now for the first time been revealed by an international team of scientists in a study based on advanced computer simulations. The sudden temperature reduction would lead to a food system shock unprecedented in documented history. It would not undo long-term climate change from fossil fuels use, though – after about a decade of cooling, global warming would surge again.
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Corona crisis: PIK switches to home office

13.03.2020 - To help containing the Corona epidemic, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research introduces mandatory home office work for all employees except those whose work cannot be done by remote access. All events and meetings are cancelled and no business trips are allowed. This is not an easy step, said PIK's Directors Ottmar Edenhofer and Johan Rockström. "Yet precaution is the overall guiding principle," the Directors highlight in a message to the whole staff.
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Managing forests in the 21st century: Experts gather at PIK

06/03/2020 - Forests all over Europe feel the pressure from ongoing climate change, yet at the same time provide a wide range of resources to mitigate and to adapt to global warming. Smartly targeted management of forest is thus key, finds an international gathering of leading experts hosted by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research this week. More than 100 scientists from institutions ranging from German National Park Berchtesgarden to US Oregon State University and Russian Higher School of Economics participated in three days of intense discussions and a field trip, more than 30 additional participants joined via videolink.
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The Climate Crisis and Churches' Options for Action: Ecumenical Learning Journey to PIK

05/03/2020 - 32 representatives from several churches took on a leaning journey about climate change and its consequences in Berlin and Potsdam. At the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Wolfgang Lucht shared some insights on Earth system research. The participants' conclusion: The church can play a major role in bridging the gap between knowledge and action and contribute to a different lifestyle through ecological spirituality.
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EU Commission draft climate law is "an important step" - yet comprehensive CO2 pricing is needed: Edenhofer

Today, the EU Commission proposed a draft climate law, containing regulation to implement parts of its Green Deal plan. On this issue, Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor for Climate Economics at Technische Universität Berlin, Germany, published a statement. Setting the right targets is not enough, he argues - "we need well-defined pathways and short-term entry points to reach them".
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Rockström speaks to Central Asian Ministers at German Foreign Office

29/02/2020 – Tackling climate change through increased regional cooperation – that is the goal of the “Green Central Asia Initiative” now launched by the German Federal Foreign office. It grounds on the conviction that climate protection and security are two sides of the same coin. PIK director Johan Rockström delivered the keynote speech on the vulnerability of Central Asia and namely Afghanistan to climate change, and the importance of science in deepening our understanding of it.
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Identifiying crises through network connections: Nature Physics publication

27/02/2020 - From a Wuhan market to Europe and the US: A chain of infection enabled the spread of coronavirus. Trade and travel played the deciding role. Events that have been locally confined in the past are today damaging the global economy. When local networks become internationally connected, scientists call this percolation. An international team of researchers now developed a mathematical approach to better predict when percolation arises and disappears. Their findings have been published in the highly renowned journal Nature Physics this month.
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Schellnhuber honoured with Japanese Order of the Rising Sun

27/02/2020 - In a most solemn ceremony hosted at the Embassy of Japan in Berlin, PIK Director Emeritus Hans Joachim Schellnhuber was honoured with the oldest national distinction of Japan. The highly distinguished "Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon" was awarded to him in the name of the Japanese Emperor by Japanese Ambassador His Excellency Takeshi Yagi for Schellnhuber's outstanding achievements in the field of climate science and the preservation of the environment. The famous award dates back to the Meiji Empire in the late 19th century - foreigners are awarded the Order only since the 1980s.
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Potsdam Climate Council: Fritz Reußwig appointed as expert

25/02/2020 - PIK sociologist Fritz Reußwig has been appointed to the new Potsdam Climate Council. In the eight-member expert committee he will be in charge of the domain "private households and consumption" for the current term. As honorary body, the Potsdam Climate Council has the task of accompanying the implementation the city's climate mitigation master plan, identifying possible conflicts of objectives in the implementation and providing impulses in the social discourse towards more sustainability and climate protection.
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Ricarda Winkelmann departs on “Expedition Anthropocene“ on Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador

24/02/2020 – Humans are the defining geological force shaping Earth in our current epoch that has been named the Anthropocene. Across disciplinary boundaries, six members of the 'Junge Akademie', the academy of prominent young scientists and artists from German speaking backgrounds, have departed on an expedition on tracing some of human’s impact onto the environment. 200 years after Alexander von Humboldt, they will climb the Ecuadorian volcano Chimborazo in search of humanity’s footprint in different altitudes and vegetation zones. Besides PIK’s Ricarda Winkelmann, a mathematician glaciologist, the scientists involved come from a great variety of disciplinary backgrounds: biology, chemistry, sound ecology, computer science, and medicine.
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Bundesbank experts discuss climate risks for finance

13/02/2020 - Climate risks for finance were at the centre of a joint workshop at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) with experts from the German Bundesbank. Both the physical impacts of global warming, for instance weather extremes, and the economical impacts of transitioning to net zero CO2 emissions have huge implications. The experts and scientists discussed potential future collaborations, namely on data exchange and computer simulation modelling.
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Focus on food to address climate change

18/02/2020 - Bringing together agricultural production, supply chains, and consumption: In a comment published in the new journal Nature Food researchers discuss a new global food system approach to climate change research. When these activities are considered together, they represent 21 to 37 percent of total human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, the authors note. This new approach also enables a fuller assessment of the vulnerability of the global food system to increasing droughts, intensifying heatwaves, heavier downpours, and exacerbated coastal flooding. Food system responses thus play a major role in both adapting to and mitigating climate change, the authors assert.
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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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The Antarctica Factor: model uncertainties reveal upcoming sea level risk

Sea level rise due to ice loss in Antarctica could become a major risk for coastal protection even in the near term, scientists say. Within this century already, due to Antarctica alone global sea level might rise up to three times as much as it did in the last century. This is a finding of an exceptionally comprehensive comparison of state-of-the-art computer models from around the world.
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