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SPECIAL: CO2-pricing: German chancellor Angela Merkel visited PIK for a scientific briefing

German Chancellor Angela Merkel discusses CO2 pricing with Ottmar Edenhofer. Photo: PIK/Greb For more than two hours, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) last Thursday to discuss climate change and climate policy with Director Ottmar Edenhofer and other researchers. A special focus of the meeting lay on options for an effective and fair CO2 pricing. Besides Mrs Merkel, Minister of State to the Federal Chancellor, Helge Braun, spokesman State Secretary Steffen Seibert and experts from the Chancellery also took part. A good two dozen researchers from all research departments at PIK were involved in the round table discussion taking place the Great Cupola of PIK's historic Michelson building and presented research results on climate risks and possible solutions for the climate crisis. Read more...

PIK and MCC contribute to Climate Policy Special Report for German government

PIK and MCC contribute to Climate Policy Special Report for German government

12.07.2019 - The special report, which the German Chancellor received from the “Five Sages” of the German Council of Economic Experts today, is based to a significant extent on a comprehensive analysis 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). On Thursday, the so-called Climate Cabinet, with the leaders of the chancellery and six ministries, will discuss a fundamental realignment of climate mitigation measures based on the special report. MCC and PIK Director Ottmar Edenhofer and the Chairman of the Council of Experts, Christoph Schmidt, will present their proposals as scientific advisers at the meeting in the presence of the German Chancellor.

PIK and MCC contribute to Climate Policy Special Report for German government - Read More…

What Counts for Our Climate: Carbon Budgets Untangled

What Counts for Our Climate: Carbon Budgets Untangled

18/07/2019 - The more CO2 we emit from burning coal and oil and gas, the more we heat our climate – this sounds simple, and it is. Different analyses have come up with different estimates of how much CO2 humankind can still emit if we want to hold global warming to the internationally agreed 1.5 and well below 2 degrees Celsius limits, but a lack of clarity of the reasons causing these variations has created unnecessary confusion, a new study shows. It identifies the relevant factors that affect estimates of these remaining carbon budgets and thereby untangles the differences to make estimates more easily comparable, which will help decision-makers in using them. From a climate policy perspective, the bottom line remains the same. Even if the remaining carbon budget for limiting warming to 1.5°C would increase by a half, we would have only 10 years more time before emissions have to be brought down to net zero.

What Counts for Our Climate: Carbon Budgets Untangled - Read More…

 Sea level rise: West Antarctic ice collapse may be prevented by snowing ocean water onto it

Sea level rise: West Antarctic ice collapse may be prevented by snowing ocean water onto it

18/07/2019 - The ice sheet covering West Antarctica is at risk of sliding off into the ocean. While further ice-sheet destabilisation in other parts of the continent may be limited by a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the slow, yet inexorable loss of West Antarctic ice is likely to continue even after climate warming is stabilised. A collapse might take hundreds of years but will raise sea levels worldwide by more than three meters. A team of researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is now scrutinising a daring way of stabilising the ice sheet: Generating trillions of tons of additional snowfall by pumping ocean water onto the glaciers and distributing it with snow canons. This would mean unprecedented engineering efforts and a substantial environmental hazard in one of the world’s last pristine regions – to prevent long-term sea level rise for some of the world’s most densely populated areas along coastlines from the US to China.

Sea level rise: West Antarctic ice collapse may be prevented by snowing ocean water onto it - Read More…

Germany’s first Professor for Climate Change and Health appointed

Germany’s 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 Germany’s first-ever Professorship for Climate Change and Health. 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.

Germany’s first Professor for Climate Change and Health appointed - Read More…

 Initiated instability in West Antarctica might be the fastest on the continent

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.

Initiated instability in West Antarctica might be the fastest on the continent - Read More…

German coal phase-out could be in vain without CO2-pricing

German coal phase-out could be in vain without CO2-pricing

04/06/2019 - It cannot be taken for granted that Germany’s plan to phase out coal by 2038 will actually decrease CO2 emissions on the European level. On the contrary, the phase-out could even increase emissions due to a complicated new mechanism in the European Emissions Trading Scheme, a team of researchers shows in a new analysis. To make sure the coal phase-out really helps stabilise the climate, it must be combined with a minimum price for CO2 or the cancellation of existing emission certificates.

German coal phase-out could be in vain without CO2-pricing - Read More…

Summer extremes of 2018 linked to stalled giant waves in jet stream

Summer extremes of 2018 linked to stalled giant waves in jet stream

29/04/2019 - Record breaking heatwaves and droughts in North America and Western Europe, torrential rainfalls and floods in South-East Europe and Japan - the summer of 2018 brought a series of extreme weather events that occurred almost simultaneously around the Northern Hemisphere in June and July. These extremes had something in common, a new study by an international team of climate researchers now finds: the events were connected by a newly identified pattern of the jet stream encircling the Earth. The jet stream formed a stalled wave pattern in the atmosphere which made weather conditions more persistent and thus extreme in the affected regions. The same pattern also occurred during European heat waves in 2015, 2006 and 2003, which rank among the most extreme heatwaves ever recorded. In recent years, the scientists observed a clear increase of these patterns.

Summer extremes of 2018 linked to stalled giant waves in jet stream - Read More…

Dutch royal couple visits Telegrafenberg

Dutch royal couple visits Telegrafenberg

05/22/2019 - King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands visited the Albert Einstein Science Park on Potsdam's Telegrafenberg during their stay in the State of Brandenburg today. In the presence of Brandenburgs Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke and Minister of Science Martina Münch, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the GeoResearchCenter (GFZ) signed cooperation agreements with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and TU Delft. The agreements are on geothermal research and research on weather extremes.

Dutch royal couple visits Telegrafenberg - Read More…

More CO2 than ever before in 3 million years, shows unprecedented computer simulation

More CO2 than ever before in 3 million years, shows unprecedented computer simulation

03/04/2019 - CO2 greenhouse gas amounts in the atmosphere are likely higher today than ever before in the past 3 million years. For the first time, a team of scientists succeeded to do a computer simulation that fits ocean floor sediment data of climate evolution over this period of time. Ice age onset, hence the start of the glacial cycles from cold to warm and back, the study reveals, was mainly triggered by a decrease of CO2-levels. Yet today, it is the increase of greenhouse gases due to the burning of fossil fuels that is fundamentally changing our planet, the analysis further confirms. Global mean temperatures never exceeded the preindustrial levels by more than 2 degrees Celsius in the past 3 million years, the study shows – while current climate policy inaction, if continued, would exceed the 2 degrees limit already in the next 50 years.

More CO2 than ever before in 3 million years, shows unprecedented computer simulation - Read More…

Amazon forest can be trained by higher rainfall variability – but may be no match for climate change

Amazon forest can be trained by higher rainfall variability – but may be no match for climate change

25.02.2019 - The Amazon rainforest has evolved over millions of years and even through ice ages. Yet today, human influences and global climate change put this huge ecosystem at risk of large-scale dieback – with major consequences for its capability as a global CO2 sink. New research published in Nature Geoscience now reveals a key player in shaping the resilience of the Amazon, and finds that regions with generally higher rainfall variability are more resilient to current and future climate disturbances. However, despite this 'training effect', the Amazon rainforest might not be able to keep up with the pace of ongoing climate change, the study shows.

Amazon forest can be trained by higher rainfall variability – but may be no match for climate change - Read More…

The living lab experiment "Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin" takes stock: Everyone can contribute to climate stabilization, but without politics it won’t succeed

The living lab experiment "Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin" takes stock: Everyone can contribute to climate stabilization, but without politics it won’t succeed

31/01/2019 - "Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin" – for one year, more than 100 Berlin households have tried to shift to a more climate-friendly everyday life, from families with children, partners, flatmates to singles. In the living lab experiment headed by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), households were reducing their climate footprint by an average of around 10 percent, even though they had, on average, already started the project 25 percent below the German average. The results of the project: in all sectors, from nutrition and consumption to electricity, heating and mobility, there is great potential for each and every one to reduce their CO2 emissions. But the experiment also shows where the limits of individual contributions to climate protection are, and where a political framework is necessary to set the stage for a more climate-friendly everyday life.

The living lab experiment "Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin" takes stock: Everyone can contribute to climate stabilization, but without politics it won’t succeed - Read More…

Rainfall extremes are connected across continents: Nature study

Rainfall extremes are connected across continents: Nature study

31.01.2019 - Extreme rainfall events in one city or region are connected to the same kind of events thousands of kilometers away, an international team of experts finds in a study now published in one of the world’s leading scientific journals, Nature. They discovered a global connection pattern of extreme rainfall – this could eventually improve weather forecasts and hence help to limit damages and protect people. Extreme rainfall events are on the rise due to human-caused climate change, which makes the study even more relevant. The researchers developed a new method rooted in complex systems science to analyze satellite data. The revealed extreme rainfall patterns are likely linked to giant airflows known as jetstreams that circle the globe high up in the atmosphere, forming huge waves between the Equator and the Poles.

Rainfall extremes are connected across continents: Nature study - Read More…

Germany phases out coal to help stabilize our climate

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.

Germany phases out coal to help stabilize our climate - Read More…

Lancet report: Healthy lives and a liveable planet for all require major changes in what we eat and how we produce it

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.

Lancet report: Healthy lives and a liveable planet for all require major changes in what we eat and how we produce it - Read More…

Global warming didn’t pause - researchers disentangle “hiatus” confusion

Global warming didn’t pause - researchers disentangle “hiatus” confusion

19.12.2018 - The reality of ongoing climate warming might seem plainly obvious today, after the four warmest years on record and a summer of weather extremes in the whole northern hemisphere. A few years back however, some media and some experts were entangled in debates about an alleged pause in global warming – even though there never has been statistical evidence of any “hiatus”, as new research now confirms. In two recent studies, a group of international scientists joined forces to thoroughly disentangle any possible “hiatus” confusion, affirming that there was no evidence for a significant pause or even slowdown of global warming in the first place.

Global warming didn’t pause - researchers disentangle “hiatus” confusion - Read More…

Climate plan for Germany and Europe: Economists propose CO2 price reform

Climate plan for Germany and Europe: Economists propose CO2 price reform

03.12.2018 - A few days ago the UN Environment Agency advocated an international green tax reform - now economists have presented a new concept for a CO2 price reform in Germany and Europe right before the start of the climate summit in Katowice, Poland. SPIEGEL magazine was reporting on this issue in advance this weekend. Christoph Schmidt, Chair of the German Council of Economic Experts from RWI Essen, Leibniz Institute for Economic Research, and Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), have jointly drafted the cornerstones for a market-based way out of coal. Climate-damaging CO2-emissions would need to become more expensive, while at the same time the electricity tax could be lowered. A socially just and efficient transition to a sustainable economy is possible, according to the professors, who both belong to the Leibniz Association. If, on the other hand, greenhouse gas emissions were not reduced, there would be the risk of economic climate damage of unprecedented proportions.

Climate plan for Germany and Europe: Economists propose CO2 price reform - Read More…

Record-wet and record-dry months increased in regions worldwide: climate change drives rainfall extremes

Record-wet and record-dry months increased in regions worldwide: climate change drives rainfall extremes

12.12.2018 - More and more rainfall extremes are observed in regions around the globe – triggering both wet and dry records, a new study shows. Yet there are big differences between regions: The central and Eastern US, northern Europe and northern Asia have experienced heavy rainfall events that have led to severe floods in recent past. In contrast, most African regions have seen an increased frequency of months with a lack of rain. The study is the first to systematically analyze and quantify changes in record-breaking monthly rainfall events from all over the globe, based on data from roughly 50,000 weather stations worldwide. Climate change from fossil fuel greenhouse gases has long been expected to disturb rainfall patterns.

Record-wet and record-dry months increased in regions worldwide: climate change drives rainfall extremes - Read More…

Planetary Boundaries and Global Commons - managing risks and solutions

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.

Planetary Boundaries and Global Commons - managing risks and solutions - Read More…

Joint call for swift and just climate action: the Katowice Memorandum

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.

Joint call for swift and just climate action: the Katowice Memorandum - Read More…

A Greentech Race towards Climate Stabilization: European Expert Group Publishes Landmark Innovation Report

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.

A Greentech Race towards Climate Stabilization: European Expert Group Publishes Landmark Innovation Report - Read More…

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