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SPECIAL: Coal exit benefits outweigh its costs

Phasing out coal yields global net saving effect: Lignite-fired power plants in Germany. Photo: iStock. Coal combustion is not only the single most important source of CO2, accounting for more than a third of global emissions, but also a major contributor to detrimental effects on public health and biodiversity. Yet, globally phasing out coal remains one of the hardest political nuts to crack. New computer simulations by an international team of researchers are now providing robust economic arguments for why it is worth the effort: For once, their simulations show that the world cannot stay below the 2 degrees limit if we continue to burn coal. Second, the benefits of phasing out coal clearly outweigh the costs. Third, those benefits occur mostly locally and short-term, which make them useful for policy makers. Read more...

Identifiying crises through network connections: Nature Physics publication

Identifiying crises through network connections: Nature Physics publication

27/02/2020 - From a Wuhan market to Europe and the US: A chain of infection enabled the spread of coronavirus. Trade and travel played the deciding role. Events that have been locally confined in the past are today damaging the global economy. When local networks become internationally connected, scientists call this percolation. An international team of researchers now developed a mathematical approach to better predict when percolation arises and disappears. Their findings have been published in the highly renowned journal Nature Physics this month.

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Schellnhuber honoured with Japanese Order of the Rising Sun

Schellnhuber honoured with Japanese Order of the Rising Sun

27/02/2020 - In a most solemn ceremony hosted at the Embassy of Japan in Berlin, PIK Director Emeritus Hans Joachim Schellnhuber was honoured with the oldest national distinction of Japan. The highly distinguished "Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon" was awarded to him in the name of the Japanese Emperor by Japanese Ambassador His Excellency Takeshi Yagi for Schellnhuber's outstanding achievements in the field of climate science and the preservation of the environment. The famous award dates back to the Meiji Empire in the late 19th century - foreigners are awarded the Order only since the 1980s.

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Potsdam Climate Council: Fritz Reußwig appointed as expert

Potsdam Climate Council: Fritz Reußwig appointed as expert

25/02/2020 - PIK sociologist Fritz Reußwig has been appointed to the new Potsdam Climate Council. In the eight-member expert committee he will be in charge of the domain "private households and consumption" for the current term. As honorary body, the Potsdam Climate Council has the task of accompanying the implementation the city's climate mitigation master plan, identifying possible conflicts of objectives in the implementation and providing impulses in the social discourse towards more sustainability and climate protection.

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Ricarda Winkelmann departs on “Expedition Anthropocene“ on Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador

Ricarda Winkelmann departs on “Expedition Anthropocene“ on Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador

24/02/2020 – Humans are the defining geological force shaping Earth in our current epoch that has been named the Anthropocene. Across disciplinary boundaries, six members of the 'Junge Akademie', the academy of prominent young scientists and artists from German speaking backgrounds, have departed on an expedition on tracing some of human’s impact onto the environment. 200 years after Alexander von Humboldt, they will climb the Ecuadorian volcano Chimborazo in search of humanity’s footprint in different altitudes and vegetation zones. Besides PIK’s Ricarda Winkelmann, a mathematician glaciologist, the scientists involved come from a great variety of disciplinary backgrounds: biology, chemistry, sound ecology, computer science, and medicine.

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Bundesbank experts discuss climate risks for finance

Bundesbank experts discuss climate risks for finance

13/02/2020 - Climate risks for finance were at the centre of a joint workshop at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) with experts from the German Bundesbank. Both the physical impacts of global warming, for instance weather extremes, and the economical impacts of transitioning to net zero CO2 emissions have huge implications. The experts and scientists discussed potential future collaborations, namely on data exchange and computer simulation modelling.

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Focus on food to address climate change

Focus on food to address climate change

18/02/2020 - Bringing together agricultural production, supply chains, and consumption: In a comment published in the new journal Nature Food researchers discuss a new global food system approach to climate change research. When these activities are considered together, they represent 21 to 37 percent of total human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, the authors note. This new approach also enables a fuller assessment of the vulnerability of the global food system to increasing droughts, intensifying heatwaves, heavier downpours, and exacerbated coastal flooding. Food system responses thus play a major role in both adapting to and mitigating climate change, the authors assert.

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Eurogroup Finance Ministers debate with Edenhofer

Eurogroup Finance Ministers debate with Edenhofer

17/02/2020 - The Eurogroup Finance Ministers invited climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer to speak at their Brussels meeting this Monday. They expect him to “bring a fresh perspective” based on his “important contributions to the research and public debate on the economics of the climate transition”. Edenhofer, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, will talk about environmental taxation that could help both climate stabilization and social equity.

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