News

Sabine Gabrysch appointed to Advisory Council of the Federal Government

15.10.2020 - The Federal Cabinet has appointed new members to the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). Six of the nine Advisory Council members were appointed for the first time, including Sabine Gabrysch from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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Press Release

Climate Change triggers migration – particularly in middle-income and agricultural countries

09/14/2020 - Environmental hazards affect populations worldwide and can drive migration under specific conditions. Changes in temperature levels, increased rainfall variability, and rapid-onset disasters, such as tropical storms, are important factors as shown by a new study led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Environmental migration is most pronounced in middle-income and agricultural countries but weaker in low-income countries, where populations often lack resources needed for migration. The findings make it possible to identify geographical regions that may be especially susceptible to migration movements in the future.
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News

“One Health”: PIK researcher Sabine Gabrysch appointed to BMZ advisory council

08/14/2020 - What can we learn from the current Corona pandemic, especially with regards to the relationship between people and the planet? How are human and animal health, environment, climate and biodiversity linked? The advisory council ‘One Health’, recently established by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), looks into such questions – and Sabine Gabrysch, head of PIK´s Research Department on Climate Resilience and Charité Professor, has been appointed as a member.
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Press Release

Road access for all would be costly, but not so much for the climate

07/10/2020 - One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals aims to ensure access to transport infrastructure for all. A team of researchers led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has now brought together various data sets to quantify the economic costs as well as climate implications of achieving this goal by providing universal road access. The result: While such road extension would weigh very heavily on individual countries’ budgets, on the global CO2 emissions budget it would not. To connect almost all the world’s population, the global road network would only need to be extended by 8 per cent, causing a total CO2 emissions of about 1.5 per cent of what we can emit while keeping global warming below 2 degree Celsius.
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Innovations for sustainability in a post-pandemic future

07/07/2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the world into turmoil and disrupted the status quo, but it is also providing opportunities for innovation in the way we live and work. According to the latest report released by The World in 2050 (TWI2050) initiative, the crisis can lead to creating sustainable societies with higher levels of wellbeing for all. Beyond political will, small-scale, granular innovations that are affordable and can be widely applied are key here.
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Berlin Climate and Security Conference Kicks Off Major New Risk Assessment

06/23/2020 - Climate destabilization increases risks to peace and security - to address these risks, scientists and policy-makers are teaming up to find solutions. The Berlin Climate and Security Conference (BCSC) is the global meeting place for leaders from governments, international organisations, the scientific community, the private sector and civil society to explore how climate change is impacting peace and security—and what action the international community can take to tackle climate-fragility risks. This year the high-level event, which features statements from over 14 foreign ministers, heads of state, and UN chiefs, explores the steps necessary to ensure we build a climate- and conflict-sensitive post-Covid world. It is organised by the German Federal Foreign Office, in partnership with adelphi and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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Johan Rockström receives Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Award

11/06/2020 - The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation has honored personalities and organisations for their commitment to the preservation of the planet since 2008. This morning, the Foundation announced this year´s three winners in the categories “Water”, “Climate Change” and “Biodiversity”.
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The Sustainability Dialogues Podcast

05/06/2020 - What happens when a professional snowboarder and a distinguished climate scientist take off to the mountains together? The results are now public – a podcast with five episodes, covering topics from ice and glaciers to what to eat to save the world.
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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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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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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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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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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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Buildings can become a global CO2 sink if made out of wood instead of cement and steel

A material revolution replacing cement and steel in urban construction by wood can have double benefits for climate stabilization, a new study shows. First, it can avoid greenhouse gas emissions from cement and steel production. Second, it can turn buildings into a carbon sink as they store the CO2 taken up from the air by trees that are harvested and used as engineered timber. However while the required amount of timber harvest is available in theory, such an upscaling would clearly need most careful, sustainable forest management and governance, the international team of authors stresses.
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Climate costs smallest if warming is limited to 2°C

27/01/2020 - Climate costs are likely smallest if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius. The politically negotiated Paris Agreement is thus also the economically sensible one, Potsdam researchers find in a new study. Using computer simulations of a model by US Nobel Laureate William Nordhaus, they weight climate damages from, for instance, increasing weather extremes or decreasing labour productivity against the costs of cutting greenhouse gas emission by phasing out coal and oil. Interestingly, the economically most cost-efficient level of global warming turns out to be the one more than 190 nations signed as the Paris Climate Agreement. So far however, CO2 reductions promised by nations worldwide are insufficient to reach this goal.
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Feeding the world without wrecking the planet is possible

20/01/2020 - Almost half of current food production is harmful to our planet – causing biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and water stress. But as world population continues to grow, can that last? A study led by researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now suggests a comprehensive solution package for feeding 10 billion people within our planet’s environmental boundaries. Supplying a sufficient and healthy diet for every person whilst keeping our biosphere largely intact will require no less than a technological and socio-cultural U-turn. It includes adopting radically different ways of farming, reduction of food waste, and dietary changes. The study's publication coincides with the World Economic Forum in Davos and the International Green Week in Berlin, the world's biggest food and agriculture fair.
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Potsdam: Kira Vinke is awarded best PhD Thesis Prize for Work on Climate Migration

29/11/2019 – Kira Vinke from PIK is the first political scientist to receive the Potsdam Young Scientist Award. The prize was awarded to her for her dissertation on "Unsettling Settlements: Cities, Migrants, Climate Change. Rural-Urban Climate Migration as Effective Adaption?" The honor was awarded to her by Lord Mayor Mike Schubert at a ceremony at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
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Climate tipping points – too risky to bet against

28/11/2019 - From the Greenland and West-Antarctic ice sheets to coral reefs or the Amazon rainforest – a number of critical elements in the Earth system could be more likely to tip than was previously thought, a group of leading scientists warns in in the highly renowned journal Nature. Evidence is mounting that these events are also more interconnected, which could eventually lead to domino effects. A possible tipping cascade of irreversible changes might put the livelihoods of people around the world at risk and marks a state of planetary emergency, the authors argue in their comment.
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Decarbonizing the power sector: renewable energy offers most benefits for health and environment

19/11/2019 - Electricity supply is one of the biggest CO2 emitters globally. To keep global warming well below 2°C, several paths lead to zero emissions in the energy sector, and each has its potential environmental impacts - such as air and water pollution, land-use or water demand. Using a first-time combination of multiple modelling systems, an international team of researchers led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has now quantified the actual benefits and downsides of three main roads to decarbonisation. They show that relying mainly on wind and solar would bring most co-benefits for the health of people and planet. Switching to carbon capture and storage in combination with fossil and biomass resources, in turn, is likely to convey significant environmental costs by devouring large areas at the cost of biodiversity, and by releasing pollutants to the environment.
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Lancet Countdown: Forschungsbericht zu Klimawandel und Gesundheit

14.11.2019 - Bis zum Ende dieses Jahrhunderts sind jährlich bis zu fünf zusätzliche Hitzewellen in Norddeutschland und bis zu 30 in Süddeutschland zu erwarten, wenn wir mit dem Ausstoß von Treibhausgasen so weitermachen wie bisher. Damit einhergehender Hitzestress und hohe bodennahe Ozonkonzentrationen können schwerwiegende Folgen für die menschliche Gesundheit haben. Dazu zählen unter anderem Hitzschlag, Herzinfarkt und akutes Nierenversagen aufgrund von Flüssigkeitsmangel. Am stärksten gefährdet sind ältere Menschen, Säuglinge, Patienten mit chronischen Erkrankungen sowie Personen, die schwere körperliche Arbeit im Freien verrichten, etwa Bauarbeiter.
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PIK and MCC deliver detailed assessment of German climate package

14/10/2019 - The climate protection programme adopted by the Federal Government last week, which is intended to limit greenhouse gas emissions especially in the transport and heating sectors, is unlikely to be sufficient to achieve the 2030 climate targets. Policymakers need to make four particular adjustments: first, they need to raise the level of ambition for the carbon price; second, they need to improve social balance; third, they need to develop further its integration with the EU level; and fourth, they need to introduce an effective monitoring process. This is the core message of a detailed assessment of the climate package, presented by the Berlin climate research institute MCC (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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From avocados to apples: Producing food closer to cities could help reduce climate emissions

29.08.2019 - Millions of tons of groceries from agriculture are transported to our cities all around the globe every day to feed its dwellers. Produced anywhere in the world and transported as cargo on roads, rail or water from the farm gate into cities, this food transport is linked to a huge amount of CO2 emissions. Exploring options to reduce this “food-print”, a team of city researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now provides the first global analysis of the potential of local food production to feed hungry cities in present and future. As it turns out, a large number of urban residents in many parts of the world could be nourished by local agriculture. However, climate change might take that option off the table, if greenhouse gas emissions are not rapidly reduced.
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Six Transformations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

26/08/2019 - The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change call for deep transformations that require complementary actions by governments, civil society, science, and business. While significant progress is being made on some goals, no country is currently on track towards achieving all SDGs. PIK Director Johan Rockström contributed to a paper published now in Nature Sustainability, outlining six major transformations that will be required to achieve these ambitious goals. Led by the United Nations Sustainable Development Network (UNSDSN), the research will be an input to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly Climate Summit on September 23 and 24 in New York City. Rockström will be a speaker at a number of events.
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Looking beyond the farm gate: New IPCC Special Report on Land Use and Climate Change

08/08/2019 – Almost three quarters of habitable land on earth are under human use – resulting in substantial impacts on our climate, a new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows. Today, almost a quarter of human-made greenhouse gas emissions arise from agriculture, forestry and other land use. The latest IPCC Special Report investigates the current situation, possible future scenarios and potential solutions on how we can use land to feed ourselves, fuel economic growth and limit climate change risks. Two Potsdam scientists figure as lead authors of the chapter on food security and on the relations between land and climate.
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"Heat waves are on the rise": PIK statement

24/06/2019 - Germany likely faces a heat wave this week. In which way is this releated to human-caused climate change?
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First Professor for Climate Change and Health appointed

17/06/2019 - Is climate change a global health emergency? Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) have joined forces to create the first-ever Professorship for Climate Change and Health in any German medical school. Its purpose will be to study the links between climate change and population health. The physician and epidemiologist Prof. Dr. Dr. Sabine Gabrysch has now been appointed.
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Climate protection and peace are two sides of the same coin: Berlin Climate and Security Conference

04/06/2019 –Climate change knows no borders, and climate crises can affect security, ranging from food security and displacement to an increasing number of natural disasters. Indeed, a destabilised Earth system can make peace harder to achieve and sustain, and may even be a contributing factor to new violent conflicts. This makes our climate a foreign policy issue. In cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office and the think tank adelphi, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has initiated the Berlin Climate and Security Conference to provide a forum for this rising issue. The summit will gather support for the “Berlin Call for Action”, directed at every foreign policy institution to step up efforts to address one of the greatest global security and foreign policy challenges of the 21st century: Climate change.
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