News

EU could cut emissions by 40 percent at moderate cost

01/16/2014 - The costs of achieving a more ambitious EU climate target are estimated to be moderate. Upscaling greenhouse-gas emissions reduction from the current 20 percent by 2020 to 40 percent by 2030 would be likely to cost less than an additional 0.7 percent of economic activity. This is a key finding from an international multi-model analysis by the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum (EMF28) and comes at a crucial time, as the European Commission is set to announce next week its plans whether to scale up its efforts on emissions reduction in the next decade. However, beyond 2040, according to the scientists the costs risk to rise substantially. Technological innovation would be needed to counter this.
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Climate-KIC wins 60+ million grant

03/12/2014 - This year, a record sum of 63.5 million Euros is allocated to the Climate-Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) to foster entrepreneurship that leads to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. This is the essence of the grant agreement signed by the European Institute of Innovation Technology recently. The funding is provided by the European Union and aims at ramping up activities in helping Europe lead the world in commercialising climate change technologies.
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Networks in the climate system: Research gap is closed

02/24/2014 - There are networks within the climate system of the earth: Changes at one point can trigger changes at another, far away point – so an El Niño-event in South America can interfere with the Asian monsoon. Up to now, these correlations could only be determined statistically by comparing observation data and time series. A study now for the first time reveals the physical mechanisms behind the statistics. According to an article published by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in the journal Scientific Reports, a new open access journal of the renowned Nature group, flows are of prime interest here.
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Colombia’s Minister of the Environment visits PIK

02/18/2014 - Glaciers are melting in the Andes and the rain forest of the Amazon is threatened – Colombia knows the risks of global warming. The Minister of the Environment Luz Helena Sarmiento Villamizar together with her vice minister and other high-ranking representatives of the South American country came to the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) for discussions about the research on climate impacts and countermeasures. The end of the internal armed conflicts of many years leads to increased forest clearing – the pressure on the ecosystems is thus increasing from all sides, according to the Minister. Therefore, she is urgently seeking scientific support.
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Which adaptation is possible? Climate Service Center meets in Potsdam

02/17/2014 - Renowned scientists met at the annual conference of the Climate Service Center last week on Potsdam´s Telegraph Hill. Under the motto “Society under climate change: Which adaptation is necessary, possible, and sustainable?” the issue of adaptation was in the focus for two days – since even if global warming was limited to two degrees Celsius, the impacts would already be significant. The Climate Service Center (CSC) of the Helmholtz Center Geesthacht, whose offices are located in Hamburg, is funded by the Federal Government.
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The European Emissions Trading System: options for reform

02/11/2014 - The most crucial instrument of European climate policy, the Emissions Trading System (ETS), is currently questioned to deliver the desired results as the sum to pay per ton of carbon is dwindling. To move beyond a narrow discussion of the adequate allowance price level, the association of European national academies of applied sciences Euro-CASE along with the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) is convening a high-level workshop in Brussels this week. It aims at exploring options for a reform, and to do so by embedding the discussion about the ETS in the context of its interaction with national policies as well as public finance.
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Inducing climate-smart global supply networks: Nature Commentary

06/02/2014 - Extreme weather events like super-typhoon Haiyan and hurricane Sandy can have major negative impacts on the world economy. So far, however, the effects on global production and consumption webs are missing from most assessments. This is a serious deficit, argues Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research: “World markets as well as local economies are highly interlinked and rely on global supply chains – adaptation therefore requires a global perspective, not just a local one.” In a Nature Commentary he proposes a community effort to collect economic data on the new website zeean.net. The aim is to better understand economic flows and to thereby induce a transformation of our supply chains into a stable, climate-smart network that renders our societies less vulnerable to future climate impacts.
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Coastal flood damage and adaptation costs investigated

02/04/2014 - Without increased coastal protection, between one and ten out of 200 people per year could be affected by flooding by the end ouf our century. In such a scenario of unmitigated climate change, the damages induced by sea-level rise without adaptive measure could be expected to be between 1.2 and 9.3 percent of economical activity. These are some results of a yet unprecedentedly broad analysis now published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Building dikes would cost substantial amounts of money – yet much less than the damages by flooding without protection, according to the analysis.
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Edenhofer speaks at Munich Security Conference

01/31/2014 - Ottmar Edenhofer discusses “Climate Change as a Challenge for International Politics” at the 50th Munich Security Conference. From crop failure due to climate change to scarcity of resources or migration flows – the potential risks of climate change for stability, development and security are in the focus of the event with renowned experts and decision makers.
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“Global problems require globally coordinated science”: First German Future Earth Summit

01/27/2014 - The ten-year research programme “Future Earth”, an initiative of leading international scientific organizations bringing together existing programmes on global environmental change, starts its first German summit in Berlin today. More than 230 experts from natural and social sciences as well as engineering, the humanities and law will discuss new, interdisciplinary approaches or research in three core areas: Dynamic Planet, Global Development, and the Transition towards Sustainability. They aim at providing knowledge needed to tackle the most urgent challenges of the 21st century related to global sustainability through open and collaborative processes in partnership with society and users of science.
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World Bank launches online course on climate change

01/27/2014 - The World Bank is launching its first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) based on the report “Turn down the Heat – Why a 4°C warmer world must be avoided” conducted by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The online course offers a curriculum of four weeks of learning about climate change, from observed changes and impacts of the past to a 4°C warmer world, with leading experts as lecturers, among them PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Stefan Rahmstorf, chair of PIK’s research domain Earth System Analysis.
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Global food markets: Climate impacts would be more costly than bioenergy effects

01/15/2014 - Ambitious greenhouse-gas mitigation consistent with the 2 degrees target is likely to require substantial amounts of bioenergy as part of the future energy mix. Though this does not come without risks, global food markets would be affected much more by unmitigated climate change than by an increased bioenergy demand, a study led by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now finds. Agricultural prices could be about 25 percent higher in 2050 through direct climate impacts on crop yields in comparison to a reference scenario without climate change. By way of contrast, a high bioenergy demand as part of a scenario with ambitious mitigation appears to raise prices only about 5 percent.
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Climate change puts forty percent more people at risk of absolute water scarcity: study

12/16/2013 - Water scarcity impacts people’s lives in many countries already today. Future population growth will increase the demand for freshwater even further. Yet in addition to this, on the supply side, water resources will be affected by projected changes in rainfall and evaporation. Climate change due to unabated greenhouse-gas emissions within our century is likely to put 40 percent more people at risk of absolute water scarcity than would be without climate change, a new study shows by using an unprecedented number of impact models. The analysis is to be published in a special issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that assembles first results of the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP), a unique community-driven effort to bring research on climate change impacts to a new level.
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Networks in the climate system: novel approach by young scientist awarded

12/10/2013 - For his pioneering research on complex networks in our climate system a young scientist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) received a prestigious prize. He was awarded by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) at a meeting in San Francisco attended by more than 22,000 earth and space scientists this week. By applying mathematical analysis to, for instance, data from drills in the deep-sea, he detected how shifts in African climate some million years ago influenced the fate of modern man’s ancestors.
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Beyond Warsaw: Looking forward to COP20

11/24/2013 - As the world climate conference in Warsaw closes, scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research are focusing on the next summits, and they are also investigating complementary approaches for tackling the climate challenge. “We still can achieve an agreement to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, but 2014 really has to bring some substantial progress,” PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber says, referring to the meeting of world leaders in September 2014 to be convened by UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, as well as COP20 in Lima, Peru. “Warsaw did not yet deliver such progress, not surprisingly.”
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Expert assessment: Sea-level rise could exceed one meter in this century

11/22/2013 - Sea-level rise in this century is likely to be 70-120 centimeters by 2100 if greenhouse-gas emissions are not mitigated, a broad assessment of the most active scientific publishers on that topic has revealed. The 90 experts participating in the survey anticipate a median sea-level rise of 200-300 centimeters by the year 2300 for a scenario with unmitigated emissions. In contrast, for a scenario with strong emissions reductions, experts expect a sea-level rise of 40-60 centimeters by 2100 and 60-100 centimeters by 2300. The survey was conducted by a team of scientists from the USA and Germany.
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PIK wins Potsdam Congress Award

11/15/2013 - In two categories at once, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has won the Potsdam Congress Award 2013. PIK´s international climate impacts conference “Impacts World 2013” as well as the „Global Sustainability Summer School“ that PIK has organized together with the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) twice already were honoured by Potsdam´s mayor Jann Jacobs at the Potsdam convention center.
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Jay Griffiths at PIK

11/15/2013 - The British writer Jay Griffiths is the current “Artist in Residence” at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and will read from her new book “Kith” tonight. Since summer 2011, PIK uses the building of a former photo refractor at Potsdam´s Telegrafenberg as a studio for artists and a meeting place for scientists and artists. Jay Griffiths has been at PIK since October.
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Success of climate talks vital for 2°C target

11/15/2013 - Achieving a global climate agreement soon could be crucial for the objective to keep global mean temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. The challenges of meeting the long-term target will otherwise increase drastically both in terms of the required emissions reductions and economic impacts. This is shown by the first comprehensive multi-model-based assessment of so-called Durban Platform scenarios, conducted by a team of international scientists led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) in Italy. The Durban Platform is the current negotiation track at the Warsaw climate talks that aims to reach a global climate agreement by 2015 to come into effect in 2020.
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Climate negotiations overshadowed by typhoon

11/14/2013 - This year´s international climate conference that started this Monday in Warsaw is overshadowed by typhoon Haiyan that caused severe damages in the Philippines and is reported to have cost the lives of many thousands of people. Scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research were consulted by a number of media in Germany and abroad.
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Emissions pricing revenues could overcompensate profit losses of fossil fuel owners

11/05/2013 - Revenues from global carbon emission pricing could exceed the losses fossil fuel owners suffer from this policy. Stabilizing global warming at around 2 degrees Celsius by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil fuels would mean to leave much of coal, gas and oil unused underground. Yet the instrument of pricing global CO2 emissions could generate a revenue of 32 trillion US dollars over the 21st century, exceeding by far the 12 trillion US dollars reduction of fossil fuel owners’ profits, according to a study now published by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The analysis of the interference of CO2 emission pricing with fossil fuel markets adds key information to the debate on macro-economic effects of climate change mitigation.
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Of grandchildren and foxes: Thomas Quasthoff in discussion with Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

11/04/2013 - An evening of the special kind took place last Friday in the Allianz Stiftungsforum in Berlin. The renowned bass baritone Thomas Quasthoff met the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. With the theme “Culture meets Environment” topics like sustainability, generational equity and partially quite personal things were discussed and musically accompanied by soloists of the Staatskapelle Berlin, the trio Apollon.
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Award for equal opportunities in personnel policy

11/04/2013 - The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) again received the title “Total-E-Quality”. The title was awarded on Thursday in Ehningen close to Stuttgart to companies, associations and scientific institutions as well as administrations that have anchored equal opportunities firmly to their personnel management. This year, 59 organizations from all over Germany received the award.
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Pathways to a new international climate regime: Scientists present options at COP 19 in Warsaw

10/31/2013 - How can the next global climate agreement combine bottom-up initiatives from the national or subnational levels with multilateral top-down coordination? And how can such “hybrid” approaches deliver ambitious mitigation? These questions are addressed in a joint Issue Brief now published by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) – founded by Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Stiftung Mercator last year – and the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements. The findings will be discussed on November 20 at a side-event at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, COP-19, in Warsaw, often referred to as the world climate summit.
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Cities show characteristic heat island effects

10/23/2013 - Cities heat up stronger than the rural regions surrounding them – and if climate change continues, this will become a risk for the inhabitants. On the basis of satellite data, researchers have now more comprehensively than ever before investigated this so-called heat island effect for thousands of cities in Europe. This effect can be noticed in everyday life: If you ride your bicycle from the green surroundings into a city on a hot day, you will often notice a temperature change. The larger a city is, the stronger is the effect, previous studies assumed. Now scientists could for the first time show that the urban heat island effect is in fact increasing with the size of the city – yet only up to a certain threshold value. The analysis revealed that even large cities are getting hotter than their surrounding by only two to three degrees on the average.
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International climate research college opens in Melbourne

10/23/2013 - Global research opportunities will be available to the next generation of climate change and energy experts to tackle major environmental issues, with the launch of a new graduate research college in Melbourne today. The Australian-German College of Climate & Energy Transitions will offer PhD candidates the opportunity to pursue research in areas relating to climate and energy, while also undertaking a six-month exchange program at a partner institution. The College is a collaboration between the University of Melbourne and German partners the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the University of Potsdam, the Humboldt University of Berlin and the Technical University of Berlin.
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Advisory panel of world-leading economists: Ottmar Edenhofer appointed member

10/21/2013 - The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate called on Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) and Deputy Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), to join its advisory panel. The commission – also named ‘Calderon Commission’ after its head, the former Mexican president – aims at elucidating the financial effects of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. As a member of the Economic Advisory Panel of The New Climate Economy, Edenhofer will be siding world-leading economists including Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University and Nick Stern of the London School of Economics.
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“Closely related fates”: German and African scientists discuss climate change

10/16/2013 - Sharing information and ideas about adaptation to climate change in Africa and identifying science-based recommendations on strategies for policymakers was the aim of a workshop held in Cameroon last week. It was organized by the Network of African Science Academies together with the German National Academy Leopoldina and assembled representatives from 14 countries. The keynote on the climate challenge was provided by PIK’s director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.
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