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

Arctic Sea IceA 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. Read more...

"Consulted by the Pope": Catholic Academy of Bavaria honours climate economist Edenhofer

"Consulted by the Pope": Catholic Academy of Bavaria honours climate economist Edenhofer

05/16/2018 - The Catholic Academy of Bavaria honours the climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer with its Romano Guardini Prize. "As a renowned economist, committed political advisor, and public admonisher, Ottmar Edenhofer has restlessly pointed to climate change as one of the most pressing problems on Earth, and has proposed concrete solutions," the Academy explained. "Not least Pope Francis was seeking Ottmar Edenhofer’s advice repeatedly and intensively for his encyclical Laudato Si. Both are convinced that environmental degradation and poverty are closely intertwined problems that can only be resolved together in the 'concern about our common house'.” Edenhofer is Chief Economist and designated new Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), a member of Leibniz Association; as well he is Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) and Professor at Technische Universität Berlin (TUB).

"Consulted by the Pope": Catholic Academy of Bavaria honours climate economist Edenhofer - Read More…

Stock-take 2018: Rapid emissions reductions would keep CO2 removal and costs in check

Stock-take 2018: Rapid emissions reductions would keep CO2 removal and costs in check

03/29/2018 - Rapid greenhouse-gas emissions reductions are needed if governments want to keep in check both the costs of the transition towards climate stabilization and the amount of removing already emitted CO2 from the atmosphere. To this end, emissions in 2030 would need to be at least 20 percent below what countries have pledged under the Paris climate agreement, a new study finds – an insight that is directly relevant for the global stock-take scheduled for the UN climate summit in Poland later this year. Removing CO2 from the atmosphere through technical methods including carbon capture and underground storage (CCS) or increased use of plants to suck up CO2 comes with a number of risks and uncertainties, and hence the interest of limiting them.

Stock-take 2018: Rapid emissions reductions would keep CO2 removal and costs in check - Read More…

Enhanced weathering of rocks can help to suck CO2 out of the air – a little

Enhanced weathering of rocks can help to suck CO2 out of the air – a little

03/06/2018 - Weathering of huge amounts of tiny rocks could be a means to reduce the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. While this is normally a slow natural process during which minerals chemically bind CO2, technological upscaling could make this relevant for so-called negative emissions to help limit climate risks. Yet, the CO2 reduction potential is limited and would require strong CO2 pricing to become economically feasible, according to the first comprehensive assessment of costs and possibilities now published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Enhanced weathering of rocks can help to suck CO2 out of the air – a little - Read More…

Social and Natural science together: New Co-Directors to lead the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Social and Natural science together: New Co-Directors to lead the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

23/02/2018 - The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is reinventing itself – appointing a twin leadership bringing together natural sciences and social sciences stronger than ever. In late September, the German climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer and the Swedish Earth system scientist Johan Rockström will become directors of the internationally renowned institute which is a member of the Leibniz Association. This was decided on Friday by the institute's Board of Trustees, headed by the Brandenburg Ministry of Science, Research and Culture and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The retirement of the founding director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber this autumn after a quarter of a century as the head of the institute marks the beginning of a new era in Potsdam.

Social and Natural science together: New Co-Directors to lead the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research - Read More…

Coal phase-out: Announcing CO2-pricing triggers divestment

Coal phase-out: Announcing CO2-pricing triggers divestment

01/29/2018 - Putting the Paris climate agreement into practice will trigger opposed reactions by investors on the one hand and fossil fuel owners on the other hand. It has been feared that the anticipation of strong CO2 reduction policies might – a ‘green paradox’ – drive up these emissions: before the regulations kick in, fossil fuel owners might accelerate their resource extraction to maximize profits. Yet at the same time, investors might stop putting their money into coal power plants as they can expect their assets to become stranded. Now for the first time a study investigates both effects that to date have been discussed only separately. On balance, divestment beats the green paradox if substantial carbon pricing is credibly announced, a team of energy economists finds. Consequently, overall CO2 emissions would be effectively reduced.

Coal phase-out: Announcing CO2-pricing triggers divestment - Read More…

Sea-level legacy: 20cm more rise by 2300 for each 5-year delay in peaking emissions

Sea-level legacy: 20cm more rise by 2300 for each 5-year delay in peaking emissions

02/20/2018 - Peaking global CO2 emissions as soon as possible is crucial for limiting the risks of sea-level rise, even if global warming is limited to well below 2°C. A study now published in the journal Nature Communications analyzes for the first time the sea-level legacy until 2300 within the constraints of the Paris Agreement. Their central projections indicate global sea-level rise between 0.7m and 1.2m until 2300 with Paris put fully into practice. As emissions in the second half of this century are already outlined by the Paris goals, the variations in greenhouse-gas emissions before 2050 will be the major leverage for future sea levels. The researchers find that each five year delay in peaking global CO2 emissions will likely increase median sea-level rise estimates for 2300 by 20 centimeters.

Sea-level legacy: 20cm more rise by 2300 for each 5-year delay in peaking emissions - Read More…

Reports of coal’s terminal decline are premature

Reports of coal’s terminal decline are premature

02/07/2018 - While less new coal-fired power plants are now being built in China and India, the planned expansion in the use of coal in fast-growing emerging economies, such as Turkey, Indonesia and Vietnam, will in part cancel out the reduction. Only if the countries of the world actively counteract this trend, they can achieve the climate goals agreed in the Paris Agreement. These are the results of the study “Reports of coal’s terminal decline may be exaggerated,” authored by researchers from the Potsdam Institute on Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), published in the journal Environmental Research Letters

Reports of coal’s terminal decline are premature - Read More…

Adaptation now: River flood risks increase around the globe under future warming

Adaptation now: River flood risks increase around the globe under future warming

11/01/2018 - Rainfall changes caused by global warming will increase river flood risks across the globe. Already today, fluvial floods are among the most common and devastating natural disasters. Scientists have now calculated the required increase in flood protection until the 2040s worldwide, breaking it down to single regions and cities. They find that the need for adaptation is greatest in the US, parts of India and Africa, Indonesia, and in Central Europe including Germany. Inaction would expose many millions of people to severe flooding.

Adaptation now: River flood risks increase around the globe under future warming - Read More…

Tiny ice losses at Antarctica’s fringes can accelerate ice loss far away

Tiny ice losses at Antarctica’s fringes can accelerate ice loss far away

12/12/2017 - A thinning of small areas of floating ice at Antarctica’s coast can accelerate the movement of ice grounded on rocks hundreds of kilometers away, a new study shows. It is known that the ice shelves surrounding the continent regulate the ice flow from the land into the ocean. So far it was assumed that the ice flow is most vulnerable to melting at the base near the grounding line where the ice flows from land into the sea and becomes afloat. Now scientists found that also melting near the fringes and in the midst of the ice shelves can have direct effects reaching very far inland. This could increase ice loss and hence sea-level rise.

Tiny ice losses at Antarctica’s fringes can accelerate ice loss far away - Read More…

Transformation to wind and solar could be achieved with low indirect greenhouse gas emissions

Transformation to wind and solar could be achieved with low indirect greenhouse gas emissions

12/08/2017 - Different low carbon technologies from wind or solar energy to fossil carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) differ greatly when it comes to indirect greenhouse gas emissions in their life cycle. This is the result of a comprehensive new study conducted by an international team of scientists that is now published in the journal Nature Energy. Unlike what some critics argue, the researchers not only found that wind and solar energy belong to the more favorable when it comes to life-cycle emissions. They also show that a full decarbonization of the global power sector by scaling up these technologies would induce only modest indirect greenhouse gas emissions – and hence not impede the transformation towards a climate-friendly power system.

Transformation to wind and solar could be achieved with low indirect greenhouse gas emissions - Read More…

Consumption is the bottleneck for sustainable development

Consumption is the bottleneck for sustainable development

12/01/2017 - From ending poverty to improving wellbeing, gender equality, cities' resilience or climate action - while synergies among most of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) foster progress in sustainable development, there are some key conflicts or bottlenecks that could hamper achieving the SDG objectives for 2030. This is the result of a new comprehensive analysis by a team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). According to the study, responsible consumption and production seems to be such a bottleneck, as data from the past shows.

Consumption is the bottleneck for sustainable development - Read More…

“Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin" kick-off: Reducing personal CO2 footprints in a living lab

“Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin" kick-off: Reducing personal CO2 footprints in a living lab

30/11/2017 - 100 households, 365 days: Starting this December, private households in the German capital will be testing what climate action means in everyday life in the project "Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin" (Klimaneutral Leben in Berlin - KliB). From families with children to partnerships, flat-sharing communities or singles - for one year, the voluntary housholds will document their personal carbon footprint and learn about ways to improve their own climate balance. They will be supported by experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The KliB living lab intends to show how climate protection can be implemented in our everyday life, where potential problems lie and what politicians could do to overcome them.

“Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin" kick-off: Reducing personal CO2 footprints in a living lab - Read More…

Cities can cut greenhouse gas emissions far beyond their urban borders

Cities can cut greenhouse gas emissions far beyond their urban borders

11/07/2017 - Greenhouse gas emissions caused by urban households’ purchases of goods and services from beyond city limits are much bigger than previously thought. These upstream emissions may occur anywhere in the world and are roughly equal in size to the total emissions originating from a city’s own territory, a new study shows. This is not bad news but in fact offers local policy-makers more leverage to tackle climate change, the authors argue in view of the UN climate summit COP23 that just started. They calculated the first internationally comparable greenhouse gas footprints for four cities from developed and developing countries: Berlin, New York, Mexico City, and Delhi. Contrary to common beliefs, not consumer goods like computers or sneakers that people buy are most relevant, but housing and transport – sectors that cities can substantially govern.

Cities can cut greenhouse gas emissions far beyond their urban borders - Read More…

“We need you”: UN climate chief to Potsdam climate scientists

“We need you”: UN climate chief to Potsdam climate scientists

10/13/2017 - Hundreds of millions of people will be affected by climate change impacts and their implications for health or migration already within the next few decades, sectors that so far often get overlooked in this context. This is one of the insights of the Impacts World Conference organised by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany this week. About 500 scientists from 67 countries were gathering at the conference with the title “Counting the true costs of climate change” to push climate impact research to the next level by better integrating socio-economic factors. At the same time, the institute celebrated its 25th anniversary hosting this meeting of the global impacts research community, in the spirit of its mission followed for a quarter century: further advancing scientific progress and communicating insights to stakeholders.

“We need you”: UN climate chief to Potsdam climate scientists - Read More…

“The Father of the 2 Degrees Limit”: Schellnhuber receives Blue Planet Prize

“The Father of the 2 Degrees Limit”: Schellnhuber receives Blue Planet Prize

10/19/2017 - The world’s most prestigious award for pioneers in environmental science was given to Hans Joachim Schellnhuber this week in Tokyo. He is Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), a member of the Leibniz Association. The Blue Planet Prize, coming along with 50 million yen, honors outstanding thinkers who help to meet challenges of planetary dimensions. It is awarded by the Asahi Glass Foundation and handed over in presence of Japan’s Imperial Prince and Princess. Schellnhuber received the prize for establishing a new field of science, Earth System Analysis, and introducing most influential concepts including the notion of tipping elements in the climate system. The second recipient is Gretchen Daily of Stanford University, USA, who was honored for her research about biodiversity and natural capital.

“The Father of the 2 Degrees Limit”: Schellnhuber receives Blue Planet Prize - Read More…

Counting the true costs of climate change: Impacts World Conference in Potsdam

Counting the true costs of climate change: Impacts World Conference in Potsdam

10/11/2017 - Destabilizing the climate can also destabilize societies. Global warming impacts cause substantial economic damages, hurts human health in many ways, influences the drivers of human migration, and it can jeopardize development for many of the world’s poor. To investigate effects in these four areas, close to 500 researchers will meet on 11-13 October in Potsdam, Germany. Counting the true costs of climate change – this is the conference title – is quite a challenge since the social costs in particular are sometimes hard to calculate and also come in terms of human suffering. It is as part of this conference that the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) will also celebrate its 25th anniversary, a quarter of a century of advancing insights into the interaction between humankind and the Earth System.

Counting the true costs of climate change: Impacts World Conference in Potsdam - Read More…

Formation of coal almost turned our planet into a snowball

Formation of coal almost turned our planet into a snowball

2017/10/10 - While burning coal today causes Earth to overheat, about 300 million years ago the formation of that same coal brought our planet close to global glaciation. For the first time, scientists show the massive effect in a study published in the renowned Proceedings of the US Academy of Sciences. When trees in vast forests died during a time called the Carboniferous and the Permian, the carbon dioxide (CO2) they took up from the atmosphere while growing got buried; the plants’ debris over time formed most of the coal that today is used as fossil fuel. Consequently, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere sank drastically and Earth cooled down to a degree it narrowly escaped what scientists call a ‘snowball state’.

Formation of coal almost turned our planet into a snowball - Read More…

Turning the Climate Tide by 2020

Turning the Climate Tide by 2020

06/28/2017 - The world needs high-speed climate action for an immediate bending-down of the global greenhouse-gas emissions curve, leading experts caution. Aggressive reduction of fossil-fuel usage is the key to averting devastating heat extremes and unmanageable sea level rise, the authors argue in a comment published in the renowned scientific journal Nature this week. In the run-up to the G20 summit of the planet’s leading economies, the article sets six milestones for a clean industrial revolution. This call for strong short-term measures complements the longer-term 'carbon law' approach introduced earlier this year by some of the current co-authors, including the Potsdam Institute’s Director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, in the equally eminent journal Science. Thus a full narrative of deep decarbonization emerges.

Turning the Climate Tide by 2020 - Read More…

Winter cold extremes linked to high-altitude polar vortex weakening

Winter cold extremes linked to high-altitude polar vortex weakening

09/22/2017 - When the strong winds that circle the Arctic slacken, cold polar air can escape and cause extreme winter chills in parts of the Northern hemisphere. A new study finds that these weak states have become more persistent over the past four decades and can be linked to cold winters in Russia and Europe. It is the first to show that changes in winds high up in the stratosphere substantially contributed to the observed winter cooling trend in northern Eurasia. While it is still a subject of research how the Arctic under climate change impacts the rest of the world, this study lends further support that a changing Arctic impacts the weather across large swaths of the Northern Hemisphere population centers.

Winter cold extremes linked to high-altitude polar vortex weakening - Read More…

Ending tax breaks after the diesel scandal

Ending tax breaks after the diesel scandal

09/19/2017 - In response to the diesel scandal, the diesel tax advantage should be completely abandoned within the European Union (EU). In Germany, for example, diesel would then be about 20 cents per liter more expensive at the pump. In return, however, this measure would allow Germany but also France to reduce the emissions of CO2 and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by about 10 percent over five years. This is because diesel drivers in particular are much more sensitive to fuel price changes than previously assumed: a price hike of 20 cents per liter would lower their overall consumption by an estimated 14 percent.

Ending tax breaks after the diesel scandal - Read More…

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