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Highlights: Events and Contributions

EU Commission launches High Level Panel on Decarbonisation Pathways chaired by Schellnhuber

EU Commission launches High Level Panel on Decarbonisation Pathways chaired by Schellnhuber

The Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas: ©European Union - European Parliament

21.10.2016 - To mobilise the means of science and innovation for implementing the Paris Agreement and supporting EU climate action, the European Commission establishes a High Level Panel on Decarbonisation Pathways. Physicist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), was appointed chair of the panel at its first meeting on 21 October 2016 in Brussels. .

The independent group of nine renowned expert - hosted by the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas - will deliver science-based policy-relevant advice to the European Commission in the form of intermediate policy briefs, and of a final report after three years.

Europe can and should pioneer the global movement towards a cleaner and greener future,” says PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. “I feel honoured that Commissioner Moedas asked me to participate in this venture that will identify viable trajectories based on the best scientific evidence. 195 countries agreed in Paris to decarbonise their production and consumption systems within just a few decades. This is the right decision, yet will require political, technological, economic and social action at an unprecedented scale. In fact, 2016 needs to be year one of the Great Transformation towards sustainability."

[PIK press release 21.10.2016]

Here you can find the complete PIK press release

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"Self-combustion": Schellnhuber's view of the big picture

"Self-combustion": Schellnhuber's view of the big picture

Photo: Batier/PIK Cover: C.Bertelsmann

11.02.2015 - From the pioneer days in barracks to the Pope in the Vatican, from the first mathematical equations to cutting edge computer simulations – for three decades, the physicist and political advisor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber has been exploring climate change as a challenge for humanity. Account of the state of research, life story, eco-manifest: all this is his major upcoming book on the climate crisis. As the founder and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), he authored hundreds of scientific papers and shaped ideas like the internationally-accepted two-degree limit. A few weeks prior to the UN Climate Summit in Paris, his book now addresses a wider public.

“The title ‘self-combustion’ is a double provocation”, explains Schellnhuber. “Indeed, humanity is on the way to unintended self-combustion, if we do not immediately turn to the path of sustainability.” If we keep on burning coal, oil, and gas unabated, the released greenhouse gases will heat our planet by about four degrees Celsius until the end of the century – later by six, by eight degrees. “This year will probably go down in history as the warmest since record-keeping began – the crisis is blatantly obvious”, says Schellnhuber. “Risks of unknown magnitude are the consequence, from weather extremes and sea-level rise to flows of refugees.”

At the same time, the title „self-combustion“ alludes to the fact that the scientist Schellnhuber now exposes himself to the fire of the public conflict as a book author, as he did before as a public speaker and as an advisor of institutions like the German Federal Government or the World Bank. “For sure, my life would be easier if I would just accumulate studies over studies”, says Schellnhuber. “But as a scientist, I also am a 'conscientist' – I see it as my responsibility to not only share our knowledge with other researchers but with everyone who will be be affected by the impacts of climate change in the end - and in whose power it lies to stop it.”

Reviews of the book: “passionate”, “captivating”

Hildegard Müller, Chair of the General Management Board of the Federal Association of the German Energy and Water Industry (BDEW): “Hans Joachim Schellnhuber asks wise and partly painful questions. With in-depth expertise, eloquence and thirty years of experience, he puts all his credibility and all his convictions into the balance. A passionate plea for a change of direction, which is still possible.”

Peter Höppe, Head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research/Corporate Climate Centre: “Self-combustion’ is the book of one of the internationally most renowned climate scientist, that is written with lots of personal commitment. There is probably no other book that depicts the physical processes and political discussions about climate change as comprehensively and understandably as this one. Time and time again Hans Joachim Schellnhuber intentionally changes his perspective from an objective role as a scientist, takes side and works with his unconventional style of writing. It is a captivating book worth reading."

[PIK press release 11.02.2015]


C.Bertelsmann Verlag (book so far only available in German language): find the english exposee of the book  here 

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"Die Quadratur des Klimakreises": Schellnhuber spricht zum 25-jährigen Bestehen der DBU

"Die Quadratur des Klimakreises": Schellnhuber spricht zum 25-jährigen Bestehen der DBU

Prof. Schellnhuber am 8.12.2016 zum 25-jährigen Bestehen der DBU - © DBU/Peter Himsel

09.12.2016 „Es passiert etwas höchst Dramatisches. Wir sind schon in eine Gruppe von Stop-Schildern hineingefahren und erleben einen Eingriff in die Schöpfung allererster Dramatik.“ so Schellnhuber auf dem Jubiläums-Kongress der Deutschen Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) am 8. Dezember 2016. Er forderte einen Ausstieg aus der Kohle, die komplette Dekarbonisierung, weniger Individualverkehr und neue Methoden beim zukünftigen Städte- und Straßenbau. Wir brauchen Innovationen, müssen geeignete Infrastrukturen schaffen – und dabei alle Bevölkerungsschichten und Generationen mitnehmen. „Wir müssen mitfühlen mit zukünftigen Generationen und unsere Solidarität ausdehnen auf Menschen, die noch gar nicht geboren sind.“ Ein gestaltender Staat müsse das Heft des Handelns wieder in die Hand nehmen. Schellnhubers Schlussappell: „Die Intellektuellen in Deutschland müssen endlich Position beziehen.“

[DBU-Artikel: 9.12.2016]

Videomitschnitt der Redebeiträge des DBU-Kongresses (John Schellnhuber ab Minute 17:09)

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Schellnhuber at the Vatican: "Laudato Si" and new member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

 Schellnhuber at the Vatican: "Laudato Si" and new member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Cardinal Peter Turkson with PIK director John Schellnhuber (left). Photo: Livestream screenshot

18.06.2015 - Pope Francis’ much anticipated encyclical “Laudato Si” on inequality and the environment mirrors not only religious insights but also the findings of climate science. “Not the poor but the wealthy are putting our planet, and ultimately humanity, at risk,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), at the presentation of the encyclical in the Vatican today. “ In the run-up to the encyclical, Schellnhuber participated in a number of workshops organized by the highly renowned Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, one of the most renowned around the globe, has selected John Schellnhuber briefly before the publication of the enzyclica to become a member. Pope Francis himself nominated him last week.

[PIK press release 18.06.2015]

Here you can find the paper by John Schellnhuber distributed at the Vatican event

Schellnhubers résumé  on the website of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Weblink to the english version of the encyclica "Laudato Si"

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Senate of the Leibniz Association confirms excellence

Senate of the Leibniz Association confirms excellence

Leibniz Association logo: neon sign in the headquarters of the organisation. Photo: Leibniz-Gemeinschaft/Peter Himsel

24.03.2015 - The senate of the Leibniz Association - an organisation uniting more than 80 scientific institutions - issued a statement on Monday which brings the evaluation of PIK to a successful conclusion. The research results of the institute as a whole were rated “outstanding”. The rating is based on a review carried out by a team of top international researchers, which takes place only once every seven years. The reviewers judged that PIK has developed into a globally leading institute for climate science. As well as its achievements in research, the institute's important role in scientific policy advice was praised."

"Overall, PIK has produced excellent results and established itself as a major player in international climate research" the review team's report states. "Many of its models are world-leading. The institute is also very involved in public outreach and in high-profile scientific consultancy to policymakers as well as academic and industrial partners. These activities are highly valued. The outstanding contributions to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are particularly noteworthy."

[PIK press release24.03.2016]

More information on the Leibniz Association you can find on the official website

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John Schellnhuber on outcome of COP21 World Climate Summit

John Schellnhuber on outcome of COP21 World Climate Summit

John Schellnhuber interviewed by Nick Breeze (Environation)

13.12.2015 In Paris, the COP21 UN climate summit reached an agreement. On this issue, Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK): "The spirits of Paris have defeated the ghosts of Copenhagen! Reason and moral combined at the COP21 to deliver a historical climate agreement that finally transcends national egotisms. The target of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees and aiming at 1.5 degrees is more ambitious than expected, yet fully in line with the scientific risk assessment. If sincerely operationalized, the Paris agreement will induce the decarbonization of the world economy by the middle of this century. The current emissions reduction pledges (INDCs) of most countries, however, are insufficient and have to be adapted to the new level of ambition in the next few years. Still, this is a turning point in the human enterprise where the great transformation towards sustainability begins."

[PIK statement from 13.12.2015]

Post-COP21 video interview with John Schellnhuber

Nature article by John Schellnhuber et al. (2016): "Why the right climate target was agreed in Paris"

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