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SPECIAL: Coal exit benefits outweigh its costs

Phasing out coal yields global net saving effect: Lignite-fired power plants in Germany. Photo: iStock. 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. Read more...

Caring for the future is key for cooperation to prevent climate collapse: study

Caring for the future is key for cooperation to prevent climate collapse: study

20/05/2020 - How much decision-makers care about the future and not just the present is one key factor for whether or not they take action to stabilize our climate. Another one is how severe they assume the impacts of climate collapse to be. However, the number of actors is decisive – for instance the number of relevant countries, since efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have to be international to add up to the amount needed to prevent a crisis. This is shown by a novel mathematical study. It finds a strong effect of diffusion of responsibility in scenarios with large numbers of actors. The study combines game theory and learning dynamics to explore which options for enhanced political cooperation should now urgently be studied empirically.

Caring for the future is key for cooperation to prevent climate collapse: study - Read More…

Delayed monsoon onset in Central India: early warning forecast

Delayed monsoon onset in Central India: early warning forecast

12/05/2020 - Summer Monsoon in Central India will likely begin between 18th and 26 of June, according to the new early forecast developed at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Led by PIK expert Elena Surovyatkina, the Monsoon forecast method showed to be successful already four years in a row. With global warming the monsoon is changing, breaking well-established “rules” of the phenomenon and thus becoming more unpredictable. A raising demand for a new understanding of the Indian Monsoon in order to be better prepared makes long-term forecasting even more important.

Delayed monsoon onset in Central India: early warning forecast - Read More…

Petersberg Dialogue: Merkel speech on climate "an important reassurance"

Petersberg Dialogue: Merkel speech on climate "an important reassurance"

29/04/2020 - This week, international decision-makers met online for the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Germany's head of government Angela Merkel in her speech reaffirmed her commitment to climate stabilization. "This is an important reassurance in the midst of the global health crisis", comment the Directors of the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Petersberg Dialogue: Merkel speech on climate "an important reassurance" - Read More…

Five years after the Paris Agreement: Large gap between promises and current implementation

Five years after the Paris Agreement: Large gap between promises and current implementation

29/04/2020 - Achieving the overall goals of the Paris Agreement will require a deep reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions, ideally by around 40%–50% by 2030. However, current national implementation of climate policies remains insufficient, yielding only around 5.5% reduction in emissions by 2030. The study was coordinated by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Utrecht University in cooperation with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and was published in Nature Communications. The findings are a contribution to the global evaluation of the Paris Agreement, held during the next three years.

Five years after the Paris Agreement: Large gap between promises and current implementation - Read More…

G20 and climate: Edenhofer speaks at Global Solutions Summit

G20 and climate: Edenhofer speaks at Global Solutions Summit

23/04/2020 - To advance the coupling of economic and environmental prosperity, leading thinkers and doers assembled at this year's Global Solutions Summit. PIK Director Ottmar Edenhofer was invited to deliver a keynote on what the G20 – the world’s largest economies – can do to prepare the road towards the next global climate summit COP26. The focus was on how to ensure functioning global carbon markets. Gunnar Luderer, also from the Potsdam Institute, participated in a panel debate on a circular carbon economy – in fact mitigation options such as storing or re-using CO2 emissions, or using biomass and renewables based-fuels.

G20 and climate: Edenhofer speaks at Global Solutions Summit - Read More…

Digital Earth Day 2020: A Conversation between Greta Thunberg and Johan Rockström from the Nobel Museum

Digital Earth Day 2020: A Conversation between Greta Thunberg and Johan Rockström from the Nobel Museum

April 22, 2020 marked the 50th year since Earth Day was first organised to highlight major environmental challenges in the world. On that day, Greta Thunberg and Johan Rockström have met for a digital conversation about courage, solidarity and opportunities in times of crisis. Greta stressed the need to listen to the science – in both the Corona pandemic and the climate emergency. The talk was hosted by the Nobel Foundation and live-streamed from the Nobel Prize Museum, Stockholm. Over 600 people from all over the world have tuned in, a few thousand watched the recorded version on Youtube, and many media have covered it. The talk is still available online, see link below.

Digital Earth Day 2020: A Conversation between Greta Thunberg and Johan Rockström from the Nobel Museum - Read More…

Novel network analysis confirms: #stayathome helps limit virus mutations

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.

Novel network analysis confirms: #stayathome helps limit virus mutations - Read More…

Homeschooling: Researchers support online learning with explanatory videos

Homeschooling: Researchers support online learning with explanatory videos

01/04/2020 - As schools are closed due to the corona crisis, the Potsdam Institute offers special online lectures for children and young people as a small contribution to learning at home. Explanatory videos conveying some basics about the climate are intended to provide inspiration for the many hours spent at the desk at home instead of in the classroom. The films are created by the scientists themselves - a little handout from the research team in home office to young viewers in home schooling.

Homeschooling: Researchers support online learning with explanatory videos - Read More…

From forests to peatlands: once lost, ecosystem carbon stores might not be recoverable in time

From forests to peatlands: once lost, ecosystem carbon stores might not be recoverable in time

01/04/2020 - Huge amounts of carbon are stored in ecosystems like peatlands, mangroves, old-growth forests and marshes, which play a crucial role for our Earth system. Once released due to land use changes like the conversion to agriculture, this carbon could be not be recoverable within time to avoid global warming beyond 1,5 degrees Celsius, a new study led by Conservation International shows. Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, is one of the authors. These land areas should be particularly protected, the researchers argue in the journal Nature Climate Change.

From forests to peatlands: once lost, ecosystem carbon stores might not be recoverable in time - Read More…

Regional nuclear war a risk for global food security

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.

Regional nuclear war a risk for global food security - Read More…

Corona crisis: PIK switches to home office

Corona crisis: PIK switches to home office

13.03.2020 - To help containing the Corona epidemic, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research introduces mandatory home office work for all employees except those whose work cannot be done by remote access. All events and meetings are cancelled and no business trips are allowed. This is not an easy step, said PIK's Directors Ottmar Edenhofer and Johan Rockström. "Yet precaution is the overall guiding principle," the Directors highlight in a message to the whole staff.

Corona crisis: PIK switches to home office - Read More…

Managing forests in the 21st century: Experts gather at PIK

Managing forests in the 21st century: Experts gather at PIK

06/03/2020 - Forests all over Europe feel the pressure from ongoing climate change, yet at the same time provide a wide range of resources to mitigate and to adapt to global warming. Smartly targeted management of forest is thus key, finds an international gathering of leading experts hosted by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research this week. More than 100 scientists from institutions ranging from German National Park Berchtesgarden to US Oregon State University and Russian Higher School of Economics participated in three days of intense discussions and a field trip, more than 30 additional participants joined via videolink.

Managing forests in the 21st century: Experts gather at PIK - Read More…

The Climate Crisis and Churches' Options for Action: Ecumenical Learning Journey to PIK

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.

The Climate Crisis and Churches' Options for Action: Ecumenical Learning Journey to PIK - Read More…

EU Commission draft climate law is "an important step" - yet comprehensive CO2 pricing is needed: Edenhofer

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".

EU Commission draft climate law is "an important step" - yet comprehensive CO2 pricing is needed: Edenhofer - Read More…

Rockström speaks to Central Asian Ministers at German Foreign Office

Rockström speaks to Central Asian Ministers at German Foreign Office

29/02/2020 – Tackling climate change through increased regional cooperation – that is the goal of the “Green Central Asia Initiative” now launched by the German Federal Foreign office. It grounds on the conviction that climate protection and security are two sides of the same coin. PIK director Johan Rockström delivered the keynote speech on the vulnerability of Central Asia and namely Afghanistan to climate change, and the importance of science in deepening our understanding of it.

Rockström speaks to Central Asian Ministers at German Foreign Office - Read More…

Identifiying crises through network connections: Nature Physics publication

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.

Identifiying crises through network connections: Nature Physics publication - Read More…

Schellnhuber honoured with Japanese Order of the Rising Sun

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.

Schellnhuber honoured with Japanese Order of the Rising Sun - Read More…

Potsdam Climate Council: Fritz Reußwig appointed as expert

Potsdam Climate Council: Fritz Reußwig appointed as expert

25/02/2020 - PIK sociologist Fritz Reußwig has been appointed to the new Potsdam Climate Council. In the eight-member expert committee he will be in charge of the domain "private households and consumption" for the current term. As honorary body, the Potsdam Climate Council has the task of accompanying the implementation the city's climate mitigation master plan, identifying possible conflicts of objectives in the implementation and providing impulses in the social discourse towards more sustainability and climate protection.

Potsdam Climate Council: Fritz Reußwig appointed as expert - Read More…

Ricarda Winkelmann departs on “Expedition Anthropocene“ on Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador

Ricarda Winkelmann departs on “Expedition Anthropocene“ on Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador

24/02/2020 – Humans are the defining geological force shaping Earth in our current epoch that has been named the Anthropocene. Across disciplinary boundaries, six members of the 'Junge Akademie', the academy of prominent young scientists and artists from German speaking backgrounds, have departed on an expedition on tracing some of human’s impact onto the environment. 200 years after Alexander von Humboldt, they will climb the Ecuadorian volcano Chimborazo in search of humanity’s footprint in different altitudes and vegetation zones. Besides PIK’s Ricarda Winkelmann, a mathematician glaciologist, the scientists involved come from a great variety of disciplinary backgrounds: biology, chemistry, sound ecology, computer science, and medicine.

Ricarda Winkelmann departs on “Expedition Anthropocene“ on Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador - Read More…

Bundesbank experts discuss climate risks for finance

Bundesbank experts discuss climate risks for finance

13/02/2020 - Climate risks for finance were at the centre of a joint workshop at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) with experts from the German Bundesbank. Both the physical impacts of global warming, for instance weather extremes, and the economical impacts of transitioning to net zero CO2 emissions have huge implications. The experts and scientists discussed potential future collaborations, namely on data exchange and computer simulation modelling.

Bundesbank experts discuss climate risks for finance - Read More…

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