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SPECIAL: Direct CO2 pricing gives room for additional voluntary emissions reductions

Foto: iStockMost climate economist agree that it makes sense to put a price tag on the emission of the most important greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, CO2. The discussion primarily revolves around whether it would be better to achieve this through a tax or emissions trading. Arguments include the administrative effort involved, the signal effect for investors, and the political enforceability. A new study based on a scientifically controlled experiment now sheds light on another aspect that has barely been researched so far: the incentive effect of both options on actors who want to act morally beyond their economic interests. The study was conducted by the economists Axel Ockenfels, Peter Werner and Ottmar Edenhofer, and has now been published in the renowned journal Nature Sustainability. Read more...

Climate change may affect global food costs - and vulnerability to hunger

Climate change may affect global food costs - and vulnerability to hunger

11/09/2015 - Unabated man-made climate change would likely increase the risk of hunger through rising food costs, a paper by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Impact (PIK) shows. The findings contribute to a major World Bank Report now published. The Potsdam paper investigates three key regions vulnerable to hunger – Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa – and shows that each region faces severe problems already by 2030, but that the structure of the problems strongly differs. The risks substantially increase over time if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, according to the computer simulations.

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Global food demand scenarios for the 21st century: new online tool

Global food demand scenarios for the 21st century: new online tool

11/05/2015 - Global food demand will double until mid-century, and in particular the demand for animal products will rise rapidly, a study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research shows. The development of future diets is not only crucial for food security and nutrition, but also for greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Using a new simple and transparent tool, the scientists investigated different scenarios for future calorie demand around the globe. Their results are visualized in an interactive online application, enabling interested parties to explore the future demand for plant and animal products per capita and day on a continental scale.

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Local destabilization can cause complete loss of West Antarctica’s ice masses

Local destabilization can cause complete loss of West Antarctica’s ice masses

11/02/2015 -The huge West Antarctic ice sheet would collapse completely if the comparatively small Amundsen Basin is destabilized, scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research find. A full discharge of ice into the ocean is calculated to yield about 3 meters of sea-level rise. Recent studies indicated that this area of the ice continent is already losing stability, making it the first element in the climate system about to tip. The new publication for the first time shows the inevitable consequence of such an event. According to the computer simulations, a few decades of ocean warming can start an ice loss that continues for centuries or even millennia.

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If a major economy takes the lead, warming could be limited to 2°C

If a major economy takes the lead, warming could be limited to 2°C

10/26/2015 - Though most countries around the globe agree that warming must be limited to 2 degrees Celsius to avoid the raft of climate risks, they clash about who should do what to reach this target. Hence the issue of allocating greenhouse-gas emissions reductions will be key for the outcome of the world climate summit COP21 in Paris. Scientists now found what amount of emissions reductions it takes for a major economy to lead out of the climate gridlock. They conclude that effectively limiting climate change is possible if a major economy acts as a forerunner, while other nations follow – and, importantly, by doing so they do not have to agree on common criteria for fairness.

If a major economy takes the lead, warming could be limited to 2°C - Read More…

A visit from the White House: US science advisor meets Schellnhuber

A visit from the White House: US science advisor meets Schellnhuber

10/22/2015 - President Obama’s Science Advisor John Holdren visited the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research to discuss climate change issues with its director John Schellnhuber. Holdren is Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Assistant to the President for Science and Technology Policy . Before taking office, he was a Professor at Harvard University; like Schellnhuber, he is a physicist.

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National contributions provide entry point for the low-carbon transformation

National contributions provide entry point for the low-carbon transformation

10/22/2015 - While the currently submitted national contributions to the new global climate agreement do not yet put the world on track to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius, they imply an unprecedented acceleration and consolidation of action against climate change in major economies around the world. Moreover, they can serve as an entry point for the deep low-carbon transformation, if the Paris Agreement includes a mechanism to strengthen and broaden policy commitments by 2020 at the latest. This is shown by a report published today by a consortium of 14 research institutes. The scientists and economists provide a detailed analysis of the energy sector transformations required to implement the intended nationally determined contributions (so called INDCs), in major economies and at the global level in aggregate, and their potential for keeping the below 2 degrees goal within reach.

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Longterm Potsdam measurements confirm aerosol effect

Longterm Potsdam measurements confirm aerosol effect

10/15/2015 - Longterm measurements from the Potsdam weather station are confirming assumptions about the effects of greenhouse-gases and aerosols in the atmosphere used in current computer simulations of the climate system. Tiny particles in the atmosphere, emitted for instance from coal power plants, reduce the amount of solar radiation that hits the ground - hence they have some cooling effect. This effect is correctly represented in climate models, shows a new analysis of weather data recorded in Potsdam since 1937. This series of continued measurements is one of the longest on Earth.

Longterm Potsdam measurements confirm aerosol effect - Read More…

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