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SPECIAL: Planet at risk of heading towards irreversible “Hothouse Earth” state

Planet at risk of heading towards irreversible “Hothouse Earth” stateKeeping 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. Read more...

Girls'Day: PIK opens up doors and new perspectives to young and female future scientists

Girls'Day: PIK opens up doors and new perspectives to young and female future scientists

26/04/2018 - At this year's Girls'Day, schoolgirls from Berlin and Brandenburg had once again the opportunity to get to know the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and career perspectives in science. About their research on climate change and their work as a researcher at PIK, Levke Caesar and Christina Roolfs reported to the 19 pupils participating. The action day was initiated to open up new career perspectives in mathematical and the natural sciences for girls and young women.

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Stronger evidence for a weaker Atlantic overturning

Stronger evidence for a weaker Atlantic overturning

04/11/2018. The Atlantic overturning – one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards – is weaker today than any time before in more than 1000 years. Sea surface temperature data analysis provides new evidence that this major ocean circulation has slowed down by roughly 15 percent since the middle of the 20th century, according to a study published in the highly renowned journal Nature by an international team of scientists. Human-made climate change is a prime suspect for these worrying observations.

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More than 14.000 Earth scientists meet in Vienna

More than 14.000 Earth scientists meet in Vienna

06/04/2018 - The European Geophysical Union’s (EGU) general assembly in Vienna is one of the world's greatest scientific events – from 8 to 13 April, it attracts more than 14.000 scientists. Numerous experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) give talks and participate in debates. A distinguished role is attributed to Stefan Rahmstorf, co-chair of PIK’s Earth System Analysis department, research domain 1. He has been asked to hold the first-ever EGU public lecture at the Vienna Museum for Natural History: “After Paris: Can we still control the climate crisis?”

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Edenhofer and Foreign Minister Maas visit the United Nations

Edenhofer and Foreign Minister Maas visit the United Nations

29/03/2018 - The designated Director and chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Ottmar Edenhofer, accompanied the new Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on his first visit to the United Nations in New York. Edenhofer was the only guest of the ministerial delegation. Germany seeks a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2019 and 2020. Minister Maas held a number of talks and campaigned for strengthening the United Nations in times of national unilateralist leanings.

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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.

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Wealth inequality: closing the gap by taxing land and bequests

Wealth inequality: closing the gap by taxing land and bequests

22/03/2018 - To reduce wealth inequality without diminishing the economic performance of a country, a policy package of bequest taxes and land value taxes could be the optimal solution. Such a policy package would, in fact, have a strong advantage over corporate taxation, a new study published in the journal International Tax and Public Finance finds. It is the first analysis to include the so far neglected factor of land for tackling wealth inequality. Land is of great interest for studying inequality as climate change might increase land prices and thereby affect housing costs. The cost increase could be countered by smart taxes that would at the same time reduce overall inequality in a country, and hence possibly help to reduce tensions in society that are amplified by populism.

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Worldbank report with PIK: climate change can trigger migration of millions

Worldbank report with PIK: climate change can trigger migration of millions

19/03/2018 - Climate change is a driver of future migration – in a worst-case scenario, it could force more than 100 million people out of their homes by 2050. This is shown by a groundbreaking Worldbank report, co-authored by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Subsaharan Africa and Southern Asia are among the most affected regions, to a lesser extent also Latin America. Water scarcity and yield failures are, along with a number of other economical and social factors, becoming more and more relevant for migration within countries. This so-called internal migration is the subject of the report. However, rapid reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions can reduce this future migration by up to 80 percent, according to the report.

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