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PIK STATEMENT on the Signing Ceremony of the Paris Agreement in New York on Friday

04/21/2016 - This Friday, more than 160 countries intend to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change that was adopted at the UN Climate Summit at the end of last year. For Germany, the Federal Environment Minister will attend:

Prof. Dr. Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) says about the signing of the global climate treaty:

"In order to limit climate risks, the Paris agreement has to be implemented quickly – as clear as the goals are, the way to get there is uncertain. Worldwide, a huge number of coal-fired power plants are being built. Here, only the economic principle can be of help: those who harm the climate, to the detriment of all, have to pay for it. This would trigger investments in clean innovations. Europe's emissions trading is also in need of restructuring – it currently works like a betting shop for political policy-making, with everyone underbidding each other. Research shows that a minimum price for CO2 is the best solution. Internationally, emerging and developing countries should be supported in the introduction of a CO2 price through transfer payments."

Weblink for more information on the signing in New York:

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PIK STATEMENT on Friday's EU Environment ministers meeting: Putting Paris into practice

03/03/2016 - This Friday, the European Union’s Council of Environment ministers will discuss how to follow-up on the Paris Agreement reached at the UN climate summit some weeks ago.

On this issue, Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, Chief Economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Co-Chair of the latest IPCC report on mitigation and Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change:

“Putting Paris into practice is now less an issue of the much debated climate targets than of the tools how to actually achieve them. If the EU wants to effectively decrease CO2 output, it has to fix its Emissions Trading System. Introducing a minimum price would help stabilize investor’s expectations and hence boost low-carbon innovation. Second, the EU members should use the G20 – representing about three quarters of emissions worldwide – to coordinate CO2 pricing schemes. Only such pricing can deliver the transparency of every participant’s efforts that the national reduction pledges for Paris, due to their heterogeneous structure, so far could not provide. In helping to achieve this new level of transparency, Europe would be able to build what is most needed in climate policy now: trust.”

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PIK STATEMENT on the global temperature record 2015

01/20/2016 - NASA and NOAA announced their official analyses of the 2015 global temperature - it has been the warmest year on record.

On this issue, Wolfgang Lucht,
co-chair of the research domain "Earth System Analysis" at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

"News on record breaking temperatures like the global record of 2015 show that continuous climate change has become reality by now. Of course there are always natural variabilities in the climate system, but the trend is clearly climbing. Therefore it was essential that the Paris Agreement took the science into account. Now it is important to act consequently. Germany could further pioneer to tackle the implementation more systematically, eventually attaining the end of the fossil era."

Weblink to the NOAA analysis:

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PIK statement on the outcome of COP21 World Climate Summit

12/13/2015 - In Paris, the COP21 UN climate summit reached an agreement.

On this issue, Professor Hans Joachim (John) 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."

Also on this issue, Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change:

"The Paris agreement is a breakthrough. Earth's fate now depends on how fast and how strong we implement policy instruments to actually reach the great target of strictly limiting global temperature increase and the resulting climate risks.

The Paris agreement explicitly acknowledges that the current emission reduction pledges, the so-called INDCs, will lead to increasing global emissions by 2030. Nevertheless, the aspirational goal of staying below 2°C of the Paris Agreement is not consistent with the pledges unless deep emission cuts at rates of about 6 percent per year between 2030 and 2050 are pursued. We need short-term entry points for climate policies that allow emissions to peak well before 2030. However, the institutional mechanisms in the Paris Agreement for emission reduction rates are vague: The monitoring and review process has to be clearly defined.

The Paris Agreement mentions short-term entry points: carbon pricing and carbon markets. The G-20 should elaborate next steps to implement carbon prices. Financing and transfers provide the means to harmonize these carbon prices. Whoever is building more coal power plants, however, is shutting the door to reaching the two-degree-target. We now more than ever need to avoid a global renaissance of coal - so we can transform the treaty into reality, and ultimately a better future for all.”

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On the EU Commission debate about the Emissions Trading System

07/13/2015 - On Wednesday, the European Commission will discuss the next period of the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

On this issue, Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

"If we want to advance climate change mitigation, instead of readjusting the amount and distribution of free emissions allowances, a real reform of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) would make more sense. Of course too many emission allowances have been given away for free. Yet, to make a real difference, establishing a minimum price for emissions allowances could be a prime policy option. This would help stabilize investors' expectations and hence foster financing clean technology innovation and upscaling. Second, a minimum price would help governments to develop and implement their own, national climate and energy policies. The current ETS counters additional national efforts, for instance in Germany, because these efforts lead to a decrease of the emissions allowances price - and do not eventually decrease the overall emissions in Europe. If a minimum price would be introduced, the additional German efforts would result in an emissions reduction not just on the national but on the European level."

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The current heat wave: a climate science perspective

07/03/2015 - Currently, countries like the UK, France, the Netherlands and Germany are sweltering under a heat wave that has set a number of new all-time records.

On this issue, Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:
"We currently see record-breaking heat in Europe and the Western US. This follows two of the deadliest heat waves in history in India and Pakistan last month. Man-made global warming greatly increases the number of such heat waves: for example, record-breaking hot months already occur five times as often as they would just by chance without global warming. Such heat waves often come with drought and can result in crop losses, wildfires, and human mortality. This trend will continue if greenhouse-gas emissions go on unabated."

On this issue, Dim Coumou, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:
"The current European heat wave is due to a blocking high-pressure system which creates a persistent influx of hot air from the Sahara. Such circulation patterns are occurring more often in Europe in past years, likely related to a stalling of what we call planetary waves - giant airstreams, circling the Northern hemisphere while swinging from North to South and back. Our research indicates that upper-level atmospheric flow is weakening in summertime and this makes weather situations more persistent."

Weblink to animation: Weblink to animation of current wind patterns (see here to learn more about it)

Weblink to studies:
- Trapped atmospheric waves triggered more weather extremes
- Global warming has increased monthly heat records by a factor of five
- Multifold increase in heat extremes by 2040

Further information:
- Contribution of changes in atmospheric circulation patterns to extreme temperature trends
- Summer storm weakening leads to more persistent heat extremes
- Record Heat Around the Western US, World

PIK-experts Coumou and Rahmstorf will next week debate weather extremes at a meeting of 2000 climate researchers in Paris. The meeting aims at discussing the latest state of science in the run-up of the world climate summit COP21 in Paris at the end of the year, where governments from all countries will negotiate greenhouse-gas emissions reductions.

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World Economic Forum in Davos

01/19/2015 - This week, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, meets under the theme "The New Global Context".

On this issue, Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who is one of the speakers at the event:

“The risks of unabated global warming - from weather extremes to regional water scarcity - are at core of the ‘new global context’ that the Davos meeting will be exploring. The most recent 2014 heat record is indeed the new normal and insignificant compared to the records we’re already programming into the Earth system by emitting more and more greenhouse gases. This year now offers a unique chance for decision-makers, be it at the G7-meeting or at the world climate conference in Paris, to steer the course of human history – one way, or the other.”


Link to the World Economic Forum: 

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UN Climate Change Conference COP20 in Lima

11/28/2014 - Starting Monday, at the UN climate summit COP20 in Lima delegates from more than 190 nations will discuss a new climate agreement.

On this issue, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

“Two great challenges define the 21st century - the threat of catastrophic climate change and the maddening gap between the global rich and poor. These biggest challenges to worldwide peace are closely interlinked. Global warming impacts, such as increasingly disastrous weather events, regional water scarcity or local crop failure, hit those hardest who have the least means for coping. And the fossil fuel dividend is cashed in by those who are already wealthy. Without enhancing global equity, climate change cannot be contained; and without reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, fairness cannot be realized. Stabilizing the climate and combating poverty is largely the same thing.”

Weblinks to the recently published Worldbank report "Turn down the heat" by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

Weblinks to the recently published report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC:

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"China is turning the steering wheel"

11/12/2014 - The US and China announced an agreement on climate targets.

On this issue Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

"By announcing to stop its CO2 emissions from growing by 2030 or earlier, China is turning the steering wheel of that huge vessel which is international climate policy. This does not mean it is setting a straight course to the target of keeping global temperature rise below 2 degrees, and this vessel is awfully slow to turn around. But the new course will move it in the right direction at last. It is most remarkable that China has entered the ship's bridge and has decided to take matters into its own hands."

On this issue Prof. Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

"The recent announcement by the US and China is indeed a historic milestone on the road to limit the risks of climate change, even though it is not enough to do the job. Still, the world's two largest economies are sending a strong signal that could shape the expectations of investors and thus give a push to the technological progress we need to steer away from burning fossil fuels. Science shows that effective climate change mitigation takes substantial effort, but is feasible and affordable - in fact, it would reduce annual economic growth by about 0.06 percent globally, according to the latest comprehensive IPCC assessment. From an economist's perspective, the best way is to put a price tag on CO2 internationally."

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European Council debates 2030 framework for climate and energy policy

10/20/2014 - This week, the European Council will debate and likely decide its 2030 framework for climate and energy policy.

On this issue Dr. Brigitte Knopf, head of the research group “Energy Strategies Europe and Germany” at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:
“If the EU commission this week announces a domestic greenhouse gas reduction target of at least 40 percent until 2030, this would be in line with scientific findings of what is necessary to limit the risks of man-made global warming. It clearly is an important step. However, it is also the minimum of what needs to be done if one wants to mitigate climate change. In addition to an emissions reduction target it would make sense to have an ambitious EU target for scaling up renewables, and energy efficiency. Importantly, effort sharing within the EU has urgently to be addressed to translate the sublime targets into action on the ground.”

On this issue Prof. Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:
“It is about time now to fix the most important instrument of the European climate policy, the emissions trading system EU ETS. Without a working ETS, it’s difficult to see the climate targets to be put in practice. In a recent report we suggest introducing a minimum price as well as a maximum price for emissions allowances. This would help stabilizing investor’s expectations and hence trigger investments in low carbon technologies. Second, in addition to the power sector both transport and heat production should be put under the European cap and trade system. This is a matter of fairness between businesses, and it would help speeding up emissions reductions.”

Weblink to the EMF28 model comparison of EU’s climate and energy policy:

Weblink to Euro-CASE report on EU ETS: Acatech/root/de/Aktuelles___Presse/ Presseinfos___News/ab_2014/Euro-CASE_policy_paper_ETS_reform.pdf

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China's reported plans to introduce absolute carbon cap

06/05/2014 - Today, media outlets have reported that China plans to introduce an absolute carbon cap. Yesterday, the US announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The EU is currently discussing its climate targets for 2030.

On this issue, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

"If China would indeed set an absolute national cap on greenhouse gas emissions, this would mean a boost for finding global solutions to tackle the climate challenge. It is most remarkable that now both China and the US seem to be ready to show renewed leadership. Science keeps on demonstrating that the world is about to reach more and more tipping points in the climate system, such as the recently detected and probably irreversible ice-melt in the western Antarctic, eventually causing substantial sea level rise. So the big question is how stringent China's cap of emissions will be.

For Europe, host of the 2015 climate summit, it might be about time to wake up from its recent climate fatigue. The example it set with its cap-and-trade system (ETS) finally finds followers, so the EU could pioneer further by setting more ambitious climate targets and by immediately reforming the ETS. Research shows that it would make sense to include the transport and heat sectors into the cap-and-trade system. The science is clear that the later we act, the more costly it gets in the economic system, and the more risky in the climate system."

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IPCC report on climate change impacts: Food security, weather extremes

03/31/2014 - Today, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released its landmark report on the impacts of climate change on societies and nature. Below the statements of the two co-chairs of the research domain "Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities" at the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research - they're not IPCC authors, yet their research is part of the published scientific findings incorporated in the report.

On this issue, Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe, meteorologist and co-chair of PIK's research domain "Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities":
"Extremes like heat waves or floods will increase if greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal and oil are not abated. We are changing the energy balance of our planet and thereby disturbing wind flows and precipitation patterns. This results in weather extremes – which have doubled in the last three decades, and the trend is still going up. These extremes will have considerable impacts for Europe and the USA, but the world’s poorest countries will be affected even more, as the report impressively underscores." 

Hermann Lotze-Campen, an agricultural economist and co-chair of PIK's research domain "Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities", comments:
"If no brake is put on climate change, it will have impacts on what will go on our plates - and what we've got to pay for it. Under global warming and without adaptation, yields will decrease more often than increase. This could drive up prices on the world agricultural market. Now this won't happen everywhere and all the time, and we're continuing to do research on these issues. But the risk is clear and present."

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COP19: Globally coordinated adaptation measures need to be on the agenda along with the crucial debate on mitigating the uncontrollable

11/18/2013 - This week, environmental ministers will gather for the "high level segment" of the international climate negotiations. In Warsaw, almost 200 states try to outline the pathway for a new climate agreement. Adaptation to climate change is also on the agenda.

On the occasion, Anders Levermann, co-chair of the research domain "Sustainable Solutions" at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

"By emitting greenhouse gases, we have already caused global-warming impacts, such as sea-level rise, which will remain with us for several centuries to come. Further emissions will increase anthropogenic climate change and long before we reach the limits of our planet, we will reach the limits of our society's adaptive capacity. At present nobody knows where these limits are exactly, whether at three, four, five or six degrees of warming. But beyond the 2 degrees guardrail of the international climate negotiations, the risks for our modern society with its complex infrastructure increase significantly. While impacts of climate change can already be observed today, weather extremes like the heat waves in North America, Russia, Australia and Europe, floods as recently in Pakistan and tropical storms like currently in Asia will increase with future warming. Globally coordinated adaptation measures need thus to be on the agenda in Warsaw along with the crucial debate on mitigating the uncontrollable. This is nothing else than sensible risk management."

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Typhoon Haiyan

11/11/2013 - Typhoon Haiyan has caused severe damages on the Philippines and is reported to have killed thousands of people.

On the issue, Stefan Rahmstorf, co-chair of the research domain "Earth System Analysis" at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

"Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines has probably been the strongest tropical storm that ever hit mainland since the beginning of observations. Such storms have increased in the past three decades, and climate models suggest a further increase for the future. Global warming aggravates the impacts of storms like Haiyan: extreme rainfall that comes along with tropical storms causes floods and landslides, because evaporation rates and moisture content of the air increase in a warmer climate. Furthermore, there are storm surges at the coast, because the sea level rises due to global warming."

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World Bank report on climate change and regional impacts

19/06/2013 - Today, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim in London launched a new report by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics: "Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience".

On this issue, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and lead author of the new report:

"Vulnerable regions are the places where the climate rubber meets the road. We developed narratives of severe risks for Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South East Asia which will have to be taken into account for further planning in these regions. It becomes ever more evident that climate policy and development policy are no contradiction but go hand in hand."

Weblink to the report: WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/06/14/000445729_20130614145941/Rendered /PDF/784240WP0Full00D0CONF0to0June19090L.pdf

Weblink to World Bank information: will-keep-millions-of-people-trapped-in-poverty-says-new-report

Infographic: Infographic-Climate-Change-in-Sub-Saharan-Africa-South-Asia-South-East-Asia

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Petersberg Climate Dialogue: if you want an evidence-based strategy - don´t ignore the evidence

06/05/2013 - The 4th Petersberg Climate Dialogue will begin in Berlin tomorrow. In keeping with the motto "Shaping the future", questions of international climate policy will be discussed in preparation of the next climate conference.

On this occasion, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who will give the Dinner Speech on Monday night:

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue is the attempt to advocate evidence-based decision-making. It is good that the voice of science will be heard, because if you want an evidence-based strategy - don´t ignore the evidence!

The science is complex, but not controversial. In particular we know that more (solar) energy goes into the climate system than is radiated back into space by our planet. The reason for this are the greenhouse gases accumulated in the atmosphere by human activities. This insight will not change with more research.

The evidence is not complete, but compelling. We know that the negative impacts of rapid global warming by several degrees will outweigh the positive ones, and that the risks will increase nonlinearly with global mean temperature. Therefore, all cost-benefit analyses and the precautionary principle justify the political 2° target. Future research might even suggest to tighten that target rather than to relax it.

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EU Emissions Trading Scheme: Long-term mitigation goals are important, not short-term interventions

16/04/2013 - Today the European Parliament discussed the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and rejected a proposal from the European Commission to delay auctioning of carbon allowances ("backloading").

On this issue, Ottmar Edenhofer, Vice Director and Chief Economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

"The fact that the backloading proposal was rejected today makes it all the more important to set credible targets for 2030. The current decline in prices might discourage investors in technologies that reduce emissions. Still, one should not intervene in the market on an ad hoc basis. It is more important to agree on an ambitious mitigation target for 2030, and to expedite the ETS reform including all sectors. If this goal is credibly announced, prices will rise and cause investors to invest in technologies that reduce emissions. There shouldn´t be interventions in the market at that point to lower prices - like there shouldn´t be interventions now. Long-term mitigation goals are important, not short-term interventions."

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