Event

"System Transformation": #RaceToZero UNFCCC pre-COP26 event

11/04/2020 - The #RaceToZero dialogues on how to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions kick off on Monday, 9th of November, organized by UNFCCC and COP26 world climate summit team. The Club of Rome and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research are joining forces to host the opening session on “Systems Transformation” - for a new resilience agenda for people, planet, prosperity. With presentations by Johan Rockström (Director of PIK) and Sandrine Dixson-Declève (Co-President of The Club of Rome) as well as a high-level panel discussion, this online event introduces all participants to ten days filled with keynotes, showcases and High-Level Champions all combined for a systemic transformation to reach the climate stabilization goals of the Paris Agreement.
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Press Release

Ice loss due to warming leads to warming due to ice loss: a vicious circle

10/27/2020 - The loss of huge ice masses can contribute to the warming that is causing this loss and further risks. A new study now quantifies this feedback by exploring long-term if-then-scenarios. If the Arctic summer sea-ice were to melt completely, a scenario that is likely to become reality at least temporarily within this century with ongoing greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels, this could eventually add roughly 0.2°C to global warming. This is, however, not in addition to IPCC projections of future warming since these already take the relevant mechanisms into account. Still, the scientists could now separate the effects of the ice loss from other effects and quantify it. The 0.2°C are substantial, given that global mean temperature is currently about one degree higher than in pre-industrial times, and governments worldwide agreed to stop the increase well below two degrees.
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News

Niklas Boers awarded with EGU Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award

10/26/2020 - One of 2021’s Outstanding Early Career Scientist Awards goes to PIK researcher Niklas Boers. Awarded by the European Geosciences Union (EGU), the prize recognizes Boers’ important contributions in the fields covered by the Nonlinear Processes in Geosciences (NP) Division, which is focused on a series of nonlinear paradigms including deterministic chaos, tipping points, predictability and its limits, as well as extreme events.
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News

"Climate has reached a global crisis point": PIK Director Joins TED Countdown

10/15/2020 - “We Can Change Climate Change” – this is the slogan of TED Countdown, a year-long initiative by scientists, artists, government officials and activists to collectively develop concrete ideas for a cleaner future. PIK Director Johan Rockström contributed with an engaging and energizing video statement.
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News

Larger part of Amazon rainforest at risk of tipping

10/05/2020 A larger part of the Amazon rainforest than previously thought is at risk of crossing a tipping point where it could become a savanna-type ecosystem, according to a new study. The research, based on computer models and data analysis, is published by a team of scientists including Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, in the journal Nature Communications. Rainforests are very sensitive to changes that affect rainfall for extended periods. If rainfall drops below a certain threshold, areas may shift into a savanna state.
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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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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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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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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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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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2°C ocean warming has been enough to destabilize Antarctica in the past

12/02/2020 - A melting of the Antarctic ice sheets would have far-reaching consequences for sea-level rise and coastal regions around the world. Based on new data from the Antarctic ice, an international team of scientists now reveals how the ice sheet reacted to rising temperatures in the past. Published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, their study using data from a blue ice field shows for the first time that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet already proved to be quite unstable during the last warm period 120,000 years ago. The Eemian warm period was the last phase of climate history with global temperatures similar to those that the world is heading towards due to manmade global warming in the coming decades.
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Rockström as one Voice of Science at Davos World Economic Forum

21/01/2020 – After a year of climate change making headlines, the global leaders’ meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, too, has climate change written in large letters on its programme. Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research is one of the scientists present to make the voice of science heard.
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Tipping mechanisms could spark profound societal change towards climate stabilization: new study

21/01/2020 - Limiting global warming to well below 2°C requires a decarbonized world by 2050 at the latest and a corresponding global transformation of the energy and land use systems of societies across the world. To achieve this goal of net-zero carbon by 2050 emissions need to be cut by half every decade from now on. An interdisciplinary team of researchers now explored tipping mechanisms that have the potential to spark rapid yet constructive societal changes towards climate stabilization and overall sustainability. These tipping elements and mechanisms could bring about a transition that is fast enough for meeting the targets of the Paris climate agreement. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) the scientists identify six socio-economic tipping elements and related interventions that could bring such a transition to a deep and rapid global decarbonization on its way.
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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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Nature Magazine Editorial: Research decade must focus on climate

13/01/2020 - Helping to limit anthropogenic global warming should be a prime task of science in the 2020s. “The coming decade must focus on climate change”, states a recent editorial of the world-leading scientific journal Nature. The 2010s saw breakthroughs in artificial intelligence via deep-learning technologies, in life sciences through the reprogramming of mature cells into stem cells, in physics with gravitational-wave detection and progress on quantum computing. While this was remarkable, the editors proclaim that “with new knowledge, and a renewed dedication to social and environmental responsibility, the 2020s must be transformational”.
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Planetary boundaries: Interactions in the Earth system amplify human impacts

16/12/2019 - What we do to one part of our Earth system does not just add to what we do to other parts – transgressing one planetary boundary can amplify human impacts on another one. For the first time, an international team of scientists now quantified some of the planetary-scale interactions in the Earth system. These biophysical interactions have in fact almost doubled direct human impacts on the nine planetary boundaries, from climate change to freshwater use. This insight can now be applied in policy design for safeguarding the livelihoods of generations to come.
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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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From Berlin to New York: United in Science

23/09/2019 - Millions of people all around the globe crowded the streets last Friday, demanding rapid action from policy makers to counter climate risks. The Fridays for Future movement calls upon humanity to "unite behind the science". That very same day, the German government adopted a climate policy package relying on carbon pricing expertise provided by PIK Director Ottmar Edenhofer and colleagues. Yet, the policy package is too weak to meet the climate targets, the expert says. Currently, heads of state are meeting at the UN climate summit – German Chancellor Angela Merkel is one of them. Again, science provides the facts needed for sound decisions. Among other input, PIK Director Johan Rockström presented an "Exponential Roadmap" to sustainability in New York with colleagues. Climate stabilization is both necessary and possible, the science shows.
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Vatican: Schellnhuber speaks at Amazon Synod

23.10.2019 - From rainforest deforestation to the exploitation of raw materials, poverty, land conflicts and displacement - under the title "Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology" the Special Synod for Amazonia is currently meeting at the Vatican. About 185 cardinals, bishops and distinguished guests discuss and advise on the most urgent questions for the Amazon region. By special invitation of the Vatican, PIK Director Emeritus Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, was a speaker at the Synod this Monday.
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Johan Rockström Chairs Newly Launched Earth Commission

19/09/2019 - The initiative of 20 globally renowned scientists on Earth Systems sets out to identify the concrete risks climate change brings for cities and firms. They aim to delineate the exact scientific borders of what our Planet can bear in terms of human-made climatic changes. Specifically, the commission will elaborate concrete tangible targets for cities and firms, thus scientifically underpinning tailored Goals for Land, Water, Oceans, and Biodiversity.
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Earth League scientists back global climate protests

18/09/2019 - Humanity is tipping the scales of the world, eminent Earth League scientists say in a joint statement. They throw their weight into the balance to support global climate action culminating in this Friday's demonstrations and the UN climate summit next week. The future of life-support systems on Earth is determined by a dual tipping - for better or worse. Either a social tipping towards sustainability happens quickly, or all too soon a tipping of critical parts in the Earth System may threaten the stability of life on our planet. The scientists call upon everyone to demand that political and economic decision makers ensure we do not leave our children to an insecure future.
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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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37th German Protestant Kirchentag with Rockström and Schellnhuber

21/06/2019 - With an acting director and the director Emeritus speaking, the Potsdam Institute was prominently represented at the 37th Protestant Church Congress in Dortmund. Director Rockström discussed the global challenges in the fields of environment, climate and justice with the Chair of the Council of the Protestand Church of Germany, Bedford-Strohm, the doctor and cabaret artist Eckart von Hirschhausen and the climate activist Luisa Neubauer. Schellnhuber spoke at an event with Federal Environment Minister Schulze on the subject of coal phasing out. The Kirchentag is the most important outreach event of the Protestant Church in Germany, with over 2400 events and more than 100,000 visitors.
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Initiated instability in West Antarctica might be the fastest on the continent

13/06/2019 - All around the Antarctic coastline there are ice sheet instabilities waiting to be triggered. If this happens ice flows inexorably into the ocean and raises sea levels worldwide. The one region where instability likely has already been initiated by a warming of the ocean is probably the region which collapses faster than any other, find scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Even though the rapid ice loss takes decades to unfold and centuries to complete, the speed of ice loss from Antarctica is already a major driver of global sea level rise. It will affect hundreds of millions of people living near the world’s coastlines, from Miami to Shanghai.
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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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New cookbook by Johan Rockström, now in German: "Eat Good" with healthy recipes for us and our planet

04/02/2019 - Unhealthy nutrition is one of the biggest causes of health risks worldwide and at the same time a risk to climate stability. What we eat can make a decisive contribution to our health and that of our planet. Healthy and sustainable recipes have now been presented by Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and one of the authors of the recently published EAT Lancet report on healthy nutrition within the planetary boundaries. "Eat Good - The world-changing cookbook" the German cookbook is titled. The recipes ranging from breakfast to festive dinner are backed up by practical tips and background facts about food and its processing.
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Connecting the dots between risks and solutions: Policy design for the Anthropocene

10/01/2019 - From climate change to biodiversity, land-system changes or altered biogechemical cycles – to prevent the world from overstepping critical planetary boundaries and to tackle global, long-run, and interconnected environmental risks, a comprehensive policy framework is needed. An international team of researchers now combines insights of natural and social sciences in a perspective piece just published in Nature Sustainability, one of the outlets of the leading scientific journal. They analyze guiding principles for such a policy design to keep Earth within biophysical limits favorable to human life. Among the authors are Earth System researcher Johan Rockström and climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer, who form the new joint - and interdisciplinary - leadership of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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UN climate summit agrees on rulebook – yet more ambition is needed: PIK leaders at COP24 in „Heißzeit“ times

17.12.2018 - The Katowice UN climate summit’s results are “a relief” with regard to the agreed rulebook, according to the Directors of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). However, the close to 200 states at COP24 failed to scale up ambitions for greenhouse gas emission reductions, say Johan Rockström and Ottmar Edenhofer. Concrete measures are urgently needed though since governments are steering Earth into a “Heißzeit”. This “hot age” has been investigated in scientific publications from PIK leaders, including Director Emeritus John Schellnhuber. The term “Heißzeit” has now been elected “word of the year 2018” in Germany.
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Science to COP25: Must Knows for Climate Negotiators

06/12/2019 – The pace of contemporary rise in greenhouse gas concentrations is unprecedented in climate history over the past 66 million years and weather extremes are the “new normal,” according to some of the latest findings in climate science compiled in an easy-to-read guide for negotiators, policymakers, and media for the COP25 world climate summit. PIK Director Johan Rockström and colleagues from Future Earth and the Earth League today presented the “10 New Insights in Climate Science” report to UNFCCC’s Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa at the meeting in the Spanish capital Madrid.
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Planetary Boundaries and Global Commons - managing risks and solutions

11.12.2018 - Weather extremes, food security, migration: people's livelihoods depend on climate stabilization. The joint side event of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) at the UN climate summit COP24 highlighted how a safe operating space for humanity within Planetary Boundaries and the sustainable use of Global Commons like the atmosphere are key concepts combining natural and social sciences to safeguard our future. Based on these fundamental concepts, sound options for managing risks and solutions were explored by the new joint PIK leadership Johan Rockström and Ottmar Edenhofer.
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