News

Schellnhuber awarded French Legion d'Honneur

10/06/2021 - In a solemn ceremony hosted at the Embassy of France in Berlin, PIK Director Emeritus Hans Joachim Schellnhuber was honoured with the highest order of merit in the Republic of France, The Legion of Honour, for his outstanding achievements in the field of climate science, particularly in the context of COP21.
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Important steps for a new philosophy of building in Brussels and Brandenburg

09/17/2021 - The European Commission has set out the framework and key actions to drive the New European Bauhaus initiative forward after comprehensive talks earlier this month, when the Highlevel Roundtable with PIK founder John Schellnhuber met with EU President Ursula von der Leyen. Today, the Brandenburg government together with the Federal Ministry for the Environment joined forces with “Bauhaus der Erde”, a non-profit organization with the objective to transform the way we construct and maintain the built environment.
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Grand Cross of Merit of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for Schellnhuber

06/07/2021 - Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founding director and emeritus of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research PIK, today received the Grand Cross of Merit of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany today. Under the motto "Nature - Environment - Climate Protection", Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier honored Schellnhuber and five other citizens with the Order of Merit in Bellevue Palace for their outstanding commitment to environmental protection.
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Wood instead of steel and concrete: Schellnhuber calls for a green Bauhaus movement

04/21/2021- Reconstructing our climate: On the occasion of the upcoming "Earth Day", Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, called for a green Bauhaus movement for the 21st century. He presented the "Building House of the Earth" initiative, which he co-founded, together with the architect Annette Hillebrandt and the President of the German Federal Environment Agency Dirk Messner at Berlin's Federal Press Conference today. Schellnhuber argues for the substitution of reinforced concrete with organic building materials and presented strategies for sustainable housing.
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Press Release

Biggest CO2 drop: Real-time data shows Covid-19’s massive impact on global emissions

10/14/2020 - While the ongoing Corona pandemic continues to threaten millions of lives around the world, the first half of 2020 saw an unprecedented decline in CO2 emissions – larger than during the financial crisis of 2008, the oil crisis of 1979, or even World War II. An international team of researchers has found that in the first six months of this year, 8.8 percent less carbon dioxide were emitted than in the same period in 2019 – a total decrease of 1551 million tonnes. The groundbreaking study not only offers a much more precise look at COVID-19’s impact on global energy consumption than previous analyses. It also suggests what fundamental steps could be taken to stabilize the global climate in the aftermath of the pandemic.
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Historical climate fluctuations in Central Europe overestimated due to tree ring analysis: Present warming is extraordinary

09/10/2020 - Tree rings exaggerate, a team of researchers finds. Scientists deduce historical climatic conditions for the past hundreds of years from the width of the annual growth rings of trees. Previous temperature reconstructions from the annual tree rings are however to some extent inaccurate, according to a new study published in Climate Dynamics. Tree rings overstate the natural climatic variations of past centuries. A comparison of data from church and city archives shows that the climate has developed much more evenly. This in turn provides further evidence of how extraordinary modern human-made warming really is.
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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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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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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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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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Athens: Schellnhuber appointed member of Plato‘s Academy

10/12/2019 – The very word academia derives from a borough in ancient Athens, where Plato gathered his students already in 400 BCE. The heir to Plato’s Academy more than 2,000 years later is Greece’s highest scientific institution, the renowned Academy of Athens. PIK Director Emeritus Hans Joachim Schellnhuber has now been appointed to the honourable circle for his outstanding achievements in climate science.
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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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Early warning: Physicists from Giessen, Potsdam and Tel Aviv forecast "El Niño" for 2020

04/11/2019 -The serious weather phenomenon "El Niño" could soon occur again in the Pacific region. Researchers at Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, find that there will probably be another "El Niño" by the end of 2020. The prediction models commonly used do not yet see any signs of this.
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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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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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A game-changing gathering in the Vatican? Big oil and big finance agree on carbon-risk disclosure and CO2 pricing

20.06.2019 - Big Oil and Big Finance, convened by the Pontifical Academy of Science (PAS) for a dialogue on “The Energy Transition and Care for Our Common Home”, agreed to join the efforts of science and society to contain the climate crisis. Pope Francis himself joined the distinguished meeting to address the high-ranking business representatives, referring to his papal Encyclical “Laudato Si” which contributed substantially to achieving the groundbreaking 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. John Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and member of PAS, was the only climate scientist invited to the dialogue. He gave the opening lecture and played a crucial role in the making of the declarations signed by almost all participants.
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German Advisory Council on Global Change issues Report: Digital change and successful climate protection can only succeed together

11/04/2019 - The ongoing digitalisation and the transformation towards more sustainability and climate protection can only succeed together, states the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) in its report "Towards Our Common Digital Future". Digitalisation must be put at the service of sustainable development. If this fails, digital change could further exacerbate climate and environmental problems, for example by increasing resource and energy consumption, the council’s experts warn, including Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The report was presented to the German Federal Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek and the German Federal Minister of the Environment Svenja Schulze in Berlin.
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Greta Thunberg visits PIK at Telegrafenberg-Campus

03.04.2019 - Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden recently visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Thunberg and Luisa Neubauer, the 22-year-old activist of the German „Fridays for Future“-Movement, met with the Directors Johan Rockström and Ottmar Edenhofer and other experts from PIK. They discussed topics like the Paris Agreement and the latest insights from climate science and talked with scientists like Ricarda Winkelmann, Stefan Rahmstorf or Jessica Strefler, as well as PIK Director Emeritus Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, about their research at the institute.
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Schellnhuber addresses climate challenge at Munich Security Conference

04/03/2019 - For the first time, security risks arising from human-made climate change have been a center-stage topic at the Munich Security Conference this year. This unparalleled meeting of global security experts, including heads of states and high-ranking military officials, invited Hans Joachim Schellnhuber to present his assessment of the state of the climate crisis and its consequences for international policy making. Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus and founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, emphasized how reducing greenhouse gas emissions is ultimately a matter of preserving our civilization.
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PIK is the world's most influential climate think tank - Edenhofer, Schellnhuber, Rahmstorf are among most important German-speaking intellectuals

01/02/2019 - The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is the world's most influential environmental policy think tank, as the "Global Go To Think Tank Index Report 2018" just published by the University of Pennsylvania shows. On top of this, three PIK scientists are among the "most important German-speaking intellectuals" according to the new Cicero ranking: Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of PIK, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus, and Stefan Rahmstorf, Chair of PIK's research department "Earth System Analysis".
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Brandenburg's Research Minister Münch welcomes Edenhofer and Rockström as new PIK Directors

28/01/2019 - Climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer and earth resilience researcher Johan Rockström are officially appointed as new scientific directors of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Science and Research Minister of Germany's Federal State Brandenburg Martina Münch acknowledged the two scientists as a "strong team for future tasks in climate and environment politics" and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research as one of the world's most influential and high-profile think tanks.
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Germany phases out coal to help stabilize our climate

27/01/2019 - The Coal Commission established by the German government recommends to phase out coal - with an end date in the 2030s. It is highly likely that political decision-makers will act upon this recommendation now and indeed put an end-date to coal-use in the world's fourth biggest economy Germany. The Coal Commission consisted of representatives from industry, trade unions, environmental associations, and academia. Experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) were closely involved in the difficult negotiations. Physicist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, PIK's Director Emeritus, was a member of the Commission. PIK's acting Director and chief economist Ottmar Edenhofer had been invited to provide advice to the committee.
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Lancet report: Healthy lives and a liveable planet for all require major changes in what we eat and how we produce it

17.01.2019 - Feeding a growing population of 10 billion by 2050 is possible if we shift towards a planetary health diet, a major new report by the EAT Lancet commission shows. International experts worked with the leading medical journal to develop the first comprehensive and detailed science based targets for improving our food system in a way that ensures healthy lives and a liveable planet for all. This includes doubling the amount of vegetables in what we eat every day, and halving red meat and sugar. Current diets are one of today's greatest causes for ill-health worldwide and in the same time threaten climate stability. Leading planetary boundaries researcher Johan Rockström, Director Designate of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and former Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, is one of the report's lead authors.
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Ranking: the climate papers most featured in online media

12/01/2019 - Scientific publications from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research scored well in online and social media. The UK online news outlet Carbon Brief just published an interesting ranking based on Altmetric that - while it is certainly not comprehensive since the data base is not comprehensive - gives some indications which papers in 2018 have been most referred to in the public. Of course, the list most prominently features the "Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene" (or 'Hothouse Earth') paper by, amongst others, PIK's Johan Rockström, Jonathan Donges, Ricarda Winkelmann, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber published in PNAS. Carbon Brief calls it the climate science paper that scored top in media. Looking at all scientific publications in 2018 - hence beyond the field of climate research - it still is the fifth most talked-about of all journal papers, which is enormous.
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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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Joint call for swift and just climate action: the Katowice Memorandum

10/12/2018 - Researchers, intellectuals and spiritual leaders jointly call for swift and just climate action. Together, they formulate the Katowice Memorandum at a symposium co-organized by the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) during the 24th UN Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 24) in Katowice, Poland.
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A Greentech Race towards Climate Stabilization: European Expert Group Publishes Landmark Innovation Report

28.11.2018 - Zero-carbon solutions, i.e. technologies and lifestyles completely free of fossil-fuel use, must be the foci of European investments into research and innovation. Conventional low-emission options have very limited potential to contribute in time to avoiding dangerous global warming, an independent group of eminent experts concludes. By way of contrast, ambitious innovation programs can kick-start a greentech race to the top, while boosting the competitiveness of the European economies and securing our prosperity. The “High-Level Panel on Decarbonization Pathways” report is published today, together with the European Commission Communication Strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emission reductions, in the run-up to the UN climate summit (COP24) in Katowice, Poland.
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Successful classic updated: "Climate Change" by Schellnhuber and Rahmstorf

23/11/2018 - Summer drought in Germany, heavy rainfalls in Japan, devastating forest fires in California, storms over the Mediterranean Sea - everyone is talking about climate change, not least after the devastating weather extremes this summer. In their book, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Stefan Rahmstorf summarise the current state of climate science in a compact and easy-to-understand way. "Climate change - diagnosis, prognosis, therapy", the German classic on climate change from the publishing house Beck, has now been completely updated for its 8th edition.
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New report updates “Limits of Growth”: PIK experts speak at Club of Rome anniversary conference

17/10/2018 - “Transformation is feasible” - to update its legendary “Limits of Growth” report, the Club of Rome commissioned a new report on how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals within the Planetary Boundaries that was now published in Rome. Produced by the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Norwegian Business School in Oslo, and funded by the Global Challenges Foundation, the report for the 50 year anniversary conference stresses that while most original conclusions remain valid, inequality reduction and new economic models are necessary for long-term economic and planetary stability. One of the authors of the commissioned report is Johan Rockström, Director Designate of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
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Planet at risk of heading towards irreversible “Hothouse Earth” state

06/08/2018 - Keeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than previously assessed. An international team of scientists has published a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showing that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of the planet entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions. A “Hothouse Earth” climate will in the long term stabilize at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today, the paper says. The authors conclude it is now urgent to greatly accelerate the transition towards an emission-free world economy.
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