News | Earth-Doc programme taking up speed
2 March 2016
In early March the Earth-Docs convened in the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS) in Hamburg to develop their research agenda following two retreats in Potsdam (December, 2015) and Beijing (October, 2015). The Earth-Doc program is taking speed and each participant has a defined list of goals and an agenda of collaborative activities, showing the synergy provided by the sum of the participants and their professional backgrounds. The Earth-Docs will work on social stratification and societal agency; cities as hubs of socio-ecological dynamics in the earth system and the economics of their transformation; empirical challenges to understanding the great acceleration and social drivers of planetary dynamics; the design of a world-earth modelling; and its building and application to explore the safe and just space for humanity.
PIK release statement on the global temperature record 2015
News | 20 January 2016
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."
Link to the NOAA analysis here
Worldwide electricity production vulnerable to climate change
News | 5 January 2016
New study shows climate change impacts on rivers may substantially reduce electricity production capacity and future energy security around the world. According to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, climate change impacts and associated changes in water resources could lead to reductions in electricity production capacity for more than 60% of the power plants worldwide from 2040-2069. “Hydropower plants and thermoelectric power plants—which are nuclear, fossil-, and biomass-fueled plants converting heat to electricity—both rely on freshwater from rivers and streams,” explains Michelle Van Vliet, a researcher at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria and Wageningen University in the Netherlands, who led the study. “These power-generating technologies strongly depend on water availability, and water temperature for cooling plays in addition a critical role for thermoelectric power generation.” However, if adaptation measures to allow power plants to be more flexile to the changes are implemented, much of the decline could be mitigated.
COP21: "A turning point"
News | 4 January 2016
Johan Rockström, Earth League Chair and Director of Stockholm Resilience Centre, says the Paris Agreement "sends the signal to the global economy that decarbonisation starts today. The Global Carbon Project’s carbon budget published during the conference gives the first sign that this is underway." Rockström, believes that many have now awoken to the fact that serious climate action is essential, and that the Agreement signals a turning point. "We are starting to see that sustainable solutions not only exist but they are also adaptable and deliverable on various levels in society as a whole." For sticking to 1.5°C, he argues that is essential that rich countries lead in action towards zero fossil fuel use by 2030.
The Earth Statement’s role in COP21
News | 4 January 2016
The Earth Statement (ES) campaign was born in April 2015 with the target being world leaders at COP21. Huge support for the Statement grew in the first few months alone, including from great leading figures such as Al Gore, Desmond Tutu and Richard Brandson. The movement development into a social media campaign, where people tagged and shared selfies with "This is my #EarthStatement". Thousands of people across the globe joined in to show their support for the Statement.
With this momentum, the ES had a significant profile at COP21, and with the public and media. As COP21 began, the ES campaign was published in adverts in the International New York Times (INYT) on 4th, 8th & 9th December. At the Action Day event at Le Bourget on the 5th December, Johan Rockström, Earth League Chair used his opening keynote speech as opportunity to discuss the Earth Statement to the 1200 delegates, including Segolene Royal and Al Gore.
The ES also featured prominently at the NYT Energy for Tomorrow conference (8-9th December), which had the congregation of 300 thought leaders, including Al Gore and John Kerry.
With this significant exposure having already spread the ES and its message widely in Paris and with the public, the most significant moments took place on Friday 11th December at the press conference. Here the ES, and the requirements that are needed to limit warming to below 2degrees, were drawn to the attention of world's leading media. The press conference provided headlines for the Washington Post, Reuters, New York Times, New Scientist, the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. This meeting was described as an electric event, and came at a key moment in the negotiations and some commentators have suggested it may even have contributed to influencing the outcome.
Earth League in COP21, Paris
News | 4 December 2015
The Earth League and its members will have strong presence at the UNFCC climate talks in Paris throughout the duration of the talks, 30th Nov - 11th December. The Earth League fully supports transition towards carbon neutrality and a strong, equitable and fair science-based deal in COP21 to realise this. See the Earth Statement campaign by the Earth League for more. #EarthStatement
Sunday 6th December will see a couple of events by the Earth League. First there is the B-team roundtable with the media, where the Earth Statement will be presented by Johan. Similary, later in the same day, the Earth Statement will be presented to the Executive Committee of WBCSD, which consists of CEOs from around the world, and shall be chaired by Paul Polman.
The 9th December, will see the official handover of EarthStatement at the New York Times conference. http://inytenergyfortomorrow.com/ At this NYT event, which will be moderated by Tom Friedman, who strongly supports our endeavours, we will also host a high-level lunch event on the role of science and business in a transformation to a decarbonized future. On the same day, the Earth Statement will be featured as a wraparound on the cover of the New York Times, plus a full page advert inside, with the paper being delivered to the hotels where world leaders will be staying at, providing maximum outreach to the key target audience.
Then on the 11th, there is the Planetary Boundaries and #EarthStatement session to be held in Le Bourget Cicero pavilion.
“A ‘perfect’ agreement in Paris is not essential” was published five days prior to the talks in Nature, World View, by EL Chair Johan Rockstrom and John Schellnhuber. The key message is that Paris, despite the necessity to stay true to the Earth Statement criteria of staying below the planetary guardrail of 2C, should not be considered a failure if it does not reach all the way to this global carbon budget. Instead the key is to tip-the-logic from fossil-fuels to a transformation towards decarbonisation, by having a large enough group of nations, providing transformative commitments, and that Paris overall provides a credible enough commitment to an equitable and decisive transformation to a below 2 C world, which together with repeated revision, finance, technology, and adaptation, can give the confidence investors and communities need across the world to see action really moving.
Please see here: http://www.nature.com/new/a-perfect-agreement-in-paris-is-not-essential-1.18874
Naomi Klein joins the #EarthStatement campaign
News | 17 November 2015
In an exciting development for the #EarthStatement campaign, Naomi Klein joins the movement, through taking a selfie along side Johan Rockstrom in Sweden. They shared a stage whilst at an event on her new book This Changes Everything, and discussed how sustainability and peace for both the planet and mankind are instrintically linked and each are essential to for each other to be fufilled.
World Bank Report: Climate, development and poverty
News | 9 November 2015
Research by IIASA contributed to the new World Bank Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty. The research IIASA was involved in shows the vital roles of both forestry and agriculture in the interlinked challenges that climate change and poverty present. The overall report finds that many poor people are already very vulnerable to climate change related impacts such as crop failures from reduced rainfall, spikes in food prices after extreme weather events, and increased incidence of diseases after heat waves and floods. These shocks can drive people back into poverty, by wiping out 'hard-won gains' and leading to irreversible losses. This is particularly true in Africa and South Asia. The report also showed that climate change could result in crop yield losses up to 5% by 2030 and push up food prices in Africa up 12% by 2030 and 70% by 2050.
Local destabilisation can cause total loss of West Antarctica’s ice masses
News | 3 November 2015
The destabilisation of the comparatively small Amundsen Basin would result in the huge West Antarctic ice sheet's complete collapse, according to a study by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “What we call the eternal ice of Antarctica unfortunately turns out not to be eternal at all,” says Johannes Feldmann, lead author of the study to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). “Once the ice masses get perturbed, which is what is happening today, they respond in a non-linear way: there is a relatively sudden breakdown of stability after a long period during which little change can be found.” The research shows that 60years of melting at the current observed rate could trigger a process that goes on for thousands of years, and could eventually lead to a 3 meter sea-level rise. “This certainly is a long process,” Feldmann says. “But it’s likely starting right now.”
Earth League Annual Workshop in Beijing
News | 15 October 2015
The Earth League (EL) recently held its second Annual Workshop, kindly hosted by the Center for Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing. The workshop’s careful timing, held from the 12-13th October, was crucial for solidifying strategic steps and connections in the final lead up to COP 21.
Central to the workshop was a “High-level Dialogue on the Road to Paris”, where Earth League members met with Chinese climate leaders. This was a chance for the Earth Statement to be introduced to Chinese leadership as well as the World-Earth Systems endeavour to be presented to Chinese science experts.
Both were met with positive and enthusiastic responses. Discussion ensued between the Earth League and Chinese guests on cooperation in key future science areas surrounding the fusion of Earth systems science and societal and economic dimensions, for a critical integrated understanding of our potential future global pathways on a stable and resilient planet.
The Workshop also enabled the first official meeting of the Earth League’s new Earth-Doc (post-doc) team. The Earth-Docs, based across five different EL institutes, will be the working at the forefront of the World-Earth Systems, covering a wide range of separate critical research areas that are deeply intertwined and related in their impacts.
Warming can be capped to 2°C if major economy takes lead
News | 28 October 2015
If a major economy acts as a forerunner, and other nations follow, the 2°C goal can be achieved, whilst importantly, not having to agree on common criteria for fairness. This new study, lead by PIK and which IIASA and other institutions contributed to, shows climate action equal in timing and implementation measures is not necessary to reach successful results.
“If either the European Union or the US would pioneer and set a benchmark for climate action by others, the negotiation logjam about fair burden sharing could be broken,“ lead author Malte Meinshausen from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the University of Melbourne says. “Our analysis shows that they would have to roughly double their current domestic 2030 emissions reductions targets – which would certainly require substantial efforts. Yet it seems to be one of the few options to stay on track for eventually limiting warming below 2°C and fend off a drastic increase of weather extremes and sea-level rise.“
Sea-Level Rise: The warmer the higher
News | 5 October 2015
Research by PIK shows that the more ice that melts from the Antarctic Filchner-Ronne shelf, the more ice flows into the ocean, which results in the region contributing more to global sea-level rise. The study published in Nature Climate Change, explains what while this might seem obvious, it is no matter of course for the huge ice masses of Antarctica: parts of the ice continent are characterized by instabilities that, once triggered, can lead to persistent ice discharge into the ocean even without a further increase of warming - resulting in unstoppable long-term sea-level rise. In the Filchner-Ronne region however, ice-loss will likely not show such behavior, scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research now found. their study shows that in this area the ice flow into the ocean increases just constantly with the heat provided by the ocean over time.
Austrian president announces nomination of IIASA Deputy Director General for IPCC chair
News | 29 September 2015
Heinz Fischer, the Federal President of Austria, announced at the Seventieth Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York (27 September) Austria’s nomination of IIASA Deputy Director General, Professor Nebojsa Nakicenovic as the next chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). President Fischer called on other countries to support this nomination and said, “I would like to mention the invaluable contribution of the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to providing scientific data and analysis. In October it will elect a new bureau. I am pleased to announce that Austria has nominated Professor Nakicenovic, the internationally renowned and respected scientist as chair of the IPCC, and hope that you will be able to support this excellent candidate.”
Extreme winters led to long-lasting cold patch in the Atlantic Ocean
News | 28 September 2015
Research shows that the extreme winters of 2013 and 2014 left an 'imprint' over the North Atlantic of low-temperature water on the ocean surface, The research, conducted at the Imperial College London, National Oceanography Centre (NOC), and the University of Southampton and was published in the Climate Dynamics journal, and featured in the American Meteorological Society’s recent 2014 State of the Climate report. Dr. Jeremy Grist who lead the study said: "Extreme ocean surface cooling of this magnitude is very unusual in the datasets we used in this study and has left a major imprint on ocean properties both at the surface and at depth." He added "The really cold water has moved down to the deep ocean, but it is still lurking around. In the next few winters, it may well resurface and impact our weather."
Earth League at Climate Week
News | 27 September 2015
On 26 September, the Earth League, together with the World Resources Institute, the Global Challenges Foundation and the United Nations Financial Initiative, held a breakfast roundtable event as part of Climate Week in New York City. Hosted by the Columbia University's Earth Institute, the lively discussions were dedicated to the topic of “Climate Risk and the Financial Sector”, and were attended by investors and other interested parties.
Earth League chair Professor Johan Rockström kicked off proceedings by sharing the key messages of the Earth Statement, followed by a presentation on climate risks from Earth Earth League member Professor Peter Schlösser. A panel of experts, including Mark Burrows (Executive Vice Chairman and Managing Director for Credit Suisse, Asia Pacific), Åsa Romson (Minister for the Environment and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden) and Mats Andersson (CEO of pension fund AP4), then discussed the role of the financial sector in tackling climate change, providing powerful arguments that decarbonising investment portfolios is indeed a sound business proposition.
The Earth League was also represented by Prof. Rockström at an event organised by the Bteam on “The role of business in achieving the global goals”. This event was attended by international business leaders, including Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group), Ariana Huffington (Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post), both supporters of the Earth Statement.
IIASA's collaboration on UN Sustainable Development Summit and related events
News | 25 September 2015
IIASA, in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) will be involved in a series of important events in and around the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development Goals. IIASA researchers are working on wide-ranging research to support the SDG process, both in advance of and after the development of the goals, for example The World in 2050 project, and the Nexus Solutions for Sustainability project, both launched earlier this year. IIASA Director General and CEO Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat serves on the SDSN Leadership Council. He and IIASA leaders including Deputy Director General Nebojsa Nakicenovic and Special Adviser Chin Min Lee will participate in a number of meetings related to the SDGs surrounding the Sustainable Development Summit.
Johan Rockström wins German Environmental Award
News | 24 September 2015
Johan Rockström, Earth League Chair and Director of Stockholm Resilience Centre, was awarded the German Environmental Award, along with Mojib Latif, professor at Kiel University. The award is also know as the Deutsche Umweltpreis. Rockström was awarded this for his development of science-based concepts and action frameworks for politics, business and society, and was described as ”one of the great thinkers and communicators in the field of sustainable development”. Altogether the award is worth 500,000 euros, amounting to Europe's largested environmental prize.
CO2 removal cannot save the oceans if business as usual continues
News | 4 August 2015
Artificial carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere has been proposed to reduce risks to marine life. A new study by the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) based on computer calculations shows however that if applied too late, this strategy will not work, even if atmospheric carbon emissions are restored to preindustrial levels, The large amount of carbon emissions absorption by the oceans- around one quarter of human CO2 emissions- results in a high level of ocean acidy, which is extremely detrimental to marine life. The complexity of the ocean system and its resulting inertia nature, means that CDR cannot preserve or restore marine life if applied too late.
Current climate policies have major global potential
News | 29 July 2015
According to a new study, projecting existing climate policies that have proven effective to a global scale could take us a significant way towards global climate goals. The study, carried out by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the NewClimate Institute, and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), estimates the impact of current "good practice" policies on GHGs, using existing scenarios and model calculations from IIASA's Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM) and Global Forest Model (G4M), across the energy and land use sectors. One key way to success found in the study was to ensure policies are implementing across many different sectors. Main areas with the largest potential for emission reduction were found to be electricity production with renewable energy sources, reducing fluorinated gases, and promoting efficiency in vehicles and industry. Key findings include:
Earth League members share their expertise at CFCC 2015
News | 13 July 2015
Over the four days of Our Common Future under Climate Change (CFCC), which concluded on Friday- 10th July- almost 2,000 participants, from climate and social scientists to policy experts, gathered to discuss the full scope of scientific knowledge on climate change. At the conference, Earth League members provided a strong contribution throughout, sharing their diverse expertise in the forms keynotes, panel discussions and presentations.
Owen Gaffney (Director of International media and strategy, Stockholm Resilience Centre) stood in for Johan Rockström, Earth League Chair and Director of Stockholm Resilience Centre, to speak on Planetary Boundaries: Abundance within a Global Carbon Budget. In this session, he also introduced the Earth Statement by the Earth League, and its progression and increasing support by leaders across the globe.
Various Earth League members also gave keynotes, including Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, on Responding to Climate Change Challenges, and Nebojsa Nakicenovic on Conceptualizing our Future: Storylines and Scenarios of Future Climate Change. Other keynotes were given by John Schellnhuber, Director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and Youba Sokona, Special Advisor on Sustainable Development at the South Centre.
Carlos Nobre, National Secretary for Research and Development Policies at the Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation of Brazil, also spoke in the panel discussion: Implementing Solutions and Overcoming Barriers. On the last day of the conference, John Schellnhuber participated in a plenary session with the Nobel Laureate and economist Joseph Stiglitz, as well as the World Bank´s Rachel Kyte among others, with the panel discussing Reflections on Collective Action and Transformative.
Earth League members Johan Rockström, Ottmar Edenhofer, Carlos Nobre, John Schellnhuber, and Youba Sokona also formed part of the CFCC’s Scientific Committee, which, along with the Chairs of the Organising and High-Level Committees, produced the conference Outcome Statement: Science Offers Robust Foundations for Ambitious Outcomes at COP21 and Beyond. The Statement can be accessed here.
To catch some of the talks from the CFCC, see the CFCC youtube page here.
Earth Statement gathering strong support from leaders worldwide
News | 3 July 2015
The Earth Statement has seen growing support in recent months, with new signatories from leaders in political, to community to religious arenas. Support has been coming from far and wide, from Africa, to the Middle East to South America, to the Caribbean. These include, HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, personal envoy and Chief advisor to King Abdullah II of Jordan for religious and cultural affairs; Augustine B. Njamnshi, Chair of political and technical affairs committee, Cameroon, pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, Jean Oelwang, CEO, Virgin Unite in the UK, and Lila Karbassi, Head of Environment and Climate, UN Global Compact, to name just a few. Please see the progression of the statement’s support, and add your name here!
IIASA contributes to new resource for clean energy systems
News | 23 June 2015
IIASA researchers have contributed to a major new reference work, Handbook of Clean Energy Systems, on renewable energy, climate mitigation methods, and sustainable energy. This handbook is a six volume reference work, and provides a comprehensive outline of up-to-date research on clean energy, from technology for different types of renewable energy to questions of energy storage, and long term sustainability. The book is available both in hard copy and online formats.
“Humanity at risk “: Schellnhuber speaks at the Vatican
News | 18 June 2015
Earth League member and leading climate scientist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber spoke at the Vatican on the encyclical “Laudato Si” and “Humanity at risk “. Pope Francis’ much anticipated encyclical “Laudato Si” on the environment and inequality has roots in both religious insights as well as the findings of climate science. “Not the poor but the wealthy are putting our planet, and ultimately humanity, at risk,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), at the presentation of the encyclical in the Vatican. “Those who profited least from the exploitation of fossil fuels and contributed least to greenhouse-gas emissions are hit hardest by global warming impacts, unless we strongly reduce emissions.” In the run-up to the encyclical, Schellnhuber participated in several of workshops organized by the highly renowned Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He was furthermore made a member of this Academy on Wednesday.
Decentralised off-grid electricity generation in the Global South
News | 9 June 2015
The OASYS South Asia project, implemented by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and a consortium of research partners including TERI University, University of Manchester and Edinburg Napier University, and led by De Montfort University, the United Kingdom, aims to develop systematic research into appropriate local solutions for sustainable rural electricity supply. 1.3 billion people globally do not have access to electricity. The problem of electricity access requires solutions which are techno-economically viable, institutionally feasible, socio-politically acceptable, and environmentally sound. This research programme looks to address the following research questions:
WRI shows how the USA can reach it's emissions reduction target
News | 2 June 2015
The USA is the world's second largest green house gas emitter, along with having the world's largest economy, meaning emission reduction is both crucial to meet the global goal of 2 degrees, as well as being a very challenging initiative A new World Resource's Institute study shows however, 10 ways that the USA can reach its goal of emission reductions of 26-28 % below 2005 levels by 2025, and that it is possible that it can even surpass this goal. However, to achieve this, they must effectively utilise and expand on state and federal policies. To read how this can be achieved in 10 point steps, see here.
IIASA hosts IPCC expert meeting
News | 18 May 2015
In an meeting held from 18-20 May, experts will discuss and further develop new socioeconomic scenarios for climate research. Experts will include members from the climate change research community and representatives of the IPCC, who will meet at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria. “We use scenarios much like testing probes to explore future societal developments and their consequences for climate and the environment,” said Keywan Riahi, who leads IIASA’s energy program and is convening the Expert Meeting. “The scenarios that were assessed by the IPCC have proven vital for the AR5. This expert meeting will have a detailed look at a new generation of scenarios and framework that the climate change research community has adopted to facilitate the integrated analysis of future climate impacts, vulnerabilities, adaptation, and mitigation,” added Riahi.
Population trends linked to differing climate scenarios
News | 12 May 2015
In a new IIASA study published in Population Studies, IIASA demographers Wolfgang Lutz and Erich Striessnig, show how population growth and demographic changes play a key factor in influencing future climate change scenarios. The research is based on new IIASA population projections looks at age, sex and educational attainment, in addition to the numbers of people, in line with a number of different scenarios designed for climate research, the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs).
“Developing our cities, preserving our planet”: Nobel Laureates Symposium in Hong Kong
27 April 2015
From 22nd – 25th April, Nobel Laureates across the world and across disciplines gathered in Hong Kong to discuss climate change and the challenges of cities. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Asia Society in Hong Kong (ASHK) co-hosted the event, which was its first in Asia, with the title “4C: Changing Climate, Changing Cities”. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, symposium initiator and Director of PIK says “Cities – particularly the rapidly growing ones in Asia – are at the heart of the issue, and Hong Kong in many ways could be a laboratory of change. We trust that thriving nations such as China and Germany will help in cutting global greenhouse gas emissions and hence confine the otherwise immense risks of global warming”. The event concluded with the participating Nobel Laureates signing a Memorandum entitled "The Great Urban Transformation". This text urges change in how cities function, interact and react to challenges, and looks to gather stake holder support across the globe and feed into the Paris 2015 climate summit.
Earth League launches the Earth Statement
News | 22 April 2015
The Earth Statement, written by 17 members of the Earth League, clarifies in 8 essential points what the international climate agreement at Paris 2015, COP 21, should achieve to provide the world with a decent chance of avoiding dangerous climate change.
Launched on Earth Day 2015, this Statement is an opportunity to join scientists in the call for much needed bold action by decision makers to pave the way for an ambitious, equitable and science-based agreement in Paris. To read, and support the Statement if desired, please see here.
New research shows when and where severe drought will occur
News | 15 April 2015
New research from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis shows where severe drought might hit due to climate change. The research in particular shows what regions might see unprecedented levels of droughts, which calls for urgency in adaptation and better water management policies. Many world regions are predicated to see severe drought before 2050, including the Mediterranean and the western United States. The findings will be presented this week at the European Geophysical Union Cnferene in Austria.
The World in 2050: Pathways towards a sustainable future
News | 12 March 2015
A new research project looks to develop pathways to achieve sustainable development within a safe and just operating space of a stable planet. The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the Stockholm Resilience Center at Stockholm University, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), and the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group have launched the new initiative to develop integrated pathways for achieving sustainable development and attain the Sustainable Development Goals, to be agreed by member states of the United Nations in September 2015. “The World in 2050” project brings together leading modelling teams to perform an integrated assessment that addresses the full spectrum of sustainable development challenges.
PRESS RELEASE | 5 March 2015
The Earth League calls for 7 postdocs to embark on a new generation of integrated Earth system science towards global sustainability
The Earth League is advancing the next generation of integrated Earth system analysis. This will be realised through a joint state-of-the-art World-Earth systems program. For this, young scientists are invited to join an international team of 7 postdocs, i.e. the Earth-Docs. This new research shall ignite a critical deep fusion of biophysical and human worlds; which is crucial for understanding transformations in the increasingly turbulent Anthropocene. Johan Rockström, Chair of the Earth League and Director of the Stockholm Resilience Center, remarked, “This initiation of a new generation of science is in response to the urgent need to deepen our understanding of pathways towards future world development on a resilient and stable planet. It will deepen our understanding of global risks and opportunities, and inform potential transformative pathways forward”.
To learn more, please visit here.
For the full press release, please see here.
Citizen scientists map global forests
News | 31 March 2015
New global forest maps that combine citizen science with multiple data sources provide the most accurate view ever of global forests, in terms of location and extent of forest land. Having a more advanced understanding of global forest layouts is vital information for ecology, climate change and economic modelling and determining the best reference points for an accurate understanding of deforestation and forest degradation. The maps were complied by IIASA’s Geo-Wiki team, and published in the journal Remote Sensing of the Environment, and are freely available for exploration and download on the Geo-Wiki Web site.
Gulf Stream system shown to be slowing down significantly already
News | 24 March 2015
Study published in Nature Climate Change shows the Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation is weaker than ever before in the last century, or even in the last millennium. “It is conspicuous that one specific area in the North Atlantic has been cooling in the past hundred years while the rest of the world heats up,” says Stefan Rahmstorf lead author of the study, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Now we have detected strong evidence that the global conveyor has indeed been weakening in the past hundred years, particularly since 1970,” says Rahmstorf. This could impact marine ecosystems and sea level as well as weather systems across Europe and the US.
Global warming brings more snow to Antarctica
News | 17 March 2015
Study led by PIK, published in Nature Climate Change, shows rising temperatures could actually increase snow in Antarctica, “Warmer air transports more moisture and hence produces more precipitation – in cold Antarctica this takes the form of snowfall,” lead author Katja Frieler explains. “We have now pulled a number of various lines of evidence together and find a very consistent result: Temperature increase means more snowfall on Antarctica,” says Frieler. “For every degree of regional warming, snowfall increases by about 5 percent.” Furthermore, the findings bring a double paradox: that the additional snow that warming brings will result in more ice loss. The study and full explanation can be read
Imperial college team show how to make new materials from waste CO2
News | 11 March 2015
New research, published in ACS Catalysis, shows that waste CO2 captured from UK power stations could be harnessed to produce useful materials. The core of the useful materials is polymers which are important in the production of materials called polyurethanes. This can be used to manufacture all kinds of items from furniture to trainer soles. The team, from the Department of Chemistry and Imperial spin-out company Econic Technologies, carried out experiments using carbon dioxide from Ferrybridge Power Station’s carbon capture demonstrator plant in West Yorkshire. Results showed that using a Imperial-designed novel catalyst technology, the waste could be utilised for production of other products. The study estimates that for every one tonne of CO2 used in this process, a further two tonnes of emissions could be saved by avoiding making the petrochemical-based raw material it displaces.
Power systems: Carbon negative at the regional level
News | 26 February 2015
Study by Nico Bauer from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) published in Nature looks at how the west coast of America could be carbon negative by 2050, Through modeling of the power system on the west coast, it was shown that incorporating sequestration technologies as well as bioenergy with carbon capture could allow the region to achieve carbon negativity by the middle of the century.
Clearing up Europe’s air pollution hotspots
News | 19 February 2015
New study lead by IIASA says Europe cannot achieve the WHO air quality guidelines without strictly controlling emissions across many areas. The study published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics said even with current guidelines, air quality will worsen across Europe without more targeted guidelines. Air pollution hotspots look to remain in Eastern Europe, Southern Poland and in major European cities such as Warsaw, Paris, and Milan. Guidelines would have to target many areas such as household wood and coal burning, industrial farming, to road traffic to reach set WHO and EU standards. Gregor Kiesewetter from IIASA, who led the study, said “This is the first time that we have analyzed particulate matter at individual monitoring stations across Europe, from regional background to urban streets, exactly where it’s important to know if air quality limits will be met. We show the potential and the need for further emission controls to achieve safe levels of air quality – current legislation will not do the job,”
Study shows foregoing growth does not help the environment
News | 9 February 2015
A new study by Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), published in the journal Oxford Review of Economic Policy, says that forgoing global economic growth in order to to mitigate climate change could actually prove costly. According to the study, titled “Green growth, degrowth, and the commons”, trying to avoid emitting one tonne of CO2 emissions could cost nearly 2,000 euros, instead of using, for example, emissions trading, which costs approximately only five to ten euros. Furthermore, other social goals can be reached through cost-effective emissions reduction. The study therefore calls for expansion of the debate on growth, and the search for a new definition of prosperity.
How will ocean acidification impact marine life?
News | 3 February 2015
A new study published in Environmental Science and Technology provides a holistic assessment of the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine organisms. “Calcifying species are indispensable for ecosystems worldwide: they provide nursery habitats for fish, food for marine predators, and natural defenses for storms and erosion. These species are also particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification triggered by increased fossil fuel emissions,” says IIASA researcher Ligia Azevedo, who led the study. The full paper can be found here.
Clean technology can partially make up for weak CO2 pricing
News | 2 February 2015
New study published in Nature Climate Change shows clean technology can help make up for weak CO2 pricing and help keep 2 degrees target within reach. “Economic theory suggests that we’d need a global price on greenhouse-gas emissions to keep warming below the 2 degrees Celsius threshold, and this price would probably have to be more than 30 US dollars per ton of CO2, previous studies showed,” says the lead author Christoph Bertram from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). “This seems rather unrealistic, given the track record of policies so far enacted.” This is the reasoning for this new analysis of second-best policy mixes. “For the first time, we can show that until 2030 a sub-optimal price for CO2 of only 7 US dollars can initiate a necessary transformation of the energy system if at the same time states enact a range of technology polices.”
Grantham Report 7: A review on mitigation within industrial facilities
News | 28 January 2015
The report, titled, A Systematic Review of Current Technology and Cost for Industrial Carbon Capture, carried out by Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, looks to provide an accurate overview of current research into carbon capture applied to industrial facilities. In the UK, industrial emissions of carbon dioxide account for 19% of total emissions. The report sees the investigation of four central industrial sectors. More can be read about the report here.
Climate Service Center 2.0 leads sessions ECCA 2015
Institutes News | 27 January 2015
The Climate Service Centre 2.0 Director will lead 2 sessions at the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference (ECCA). The first session, 'A framework for regional modeling- supporting adaptation to climate change’ will be on, possible settings of modelling frameworks, which help steering the development of regional systems, will be identified by multidisciplinary teams of practitioners, scientists and stakeholders. The second 'Quantifying impacts of +2° C global warming for Europe' will discuss initial findings of the IMPACT2C project around key questions concerning climate change impacts and adaption in Europe. Applications can be submitted by 1st Feb here.
New research on Internationalization of Finance and Changing Vulnerabilities
Institutes News | 17 January 2015
The South Centre recently published a new research paper, titled: Internationalization of Finance and Changing Vulnerabilities in Emerging and Developing Economies, authored by Yılmaz Akyüz. The research paper no. 60, states that after a series of crises in decent decades, developing and developed nations economies have become increasingly integrated in an inherently unstable financial system. According to the paper, almost all emerging and developing economics are vulnerable now, "irrespective of their balance-of-payments, external debt, net foreign assets and international reserve positions" due to a number of integrated and related factors, and the global multinational system stills lacks any mechanisms to address this. The full paper can be accessed here.
Finding farmland: New maps offer a clearer view of global agriculture
Institutes News | 16 January 2015
A new global cropland map by IIASA provides an improved overview of total world cropland extent and field size. The map, published in the journal Global Change Biology, was realised through a combination of multiple satellite data sources, reconciled using crowdsourced accuracy checks, and provides a significant step forward in global cropland information. Knowing the extent of available cropland is crucial for managing regional and global food security, which will become increasingly important in the decades to come with climate change impacts and population growth.
Cities would need 25 percent less energy with better planning
Institutes' News | 14 January 2015
A news study shows how cities can help mitigate climate change through urban planning and transport policies. The study released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that this could limit cities future energy use by a quarter. The research, carried out by Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Yale University and the University of Maryland, showed that shorter commutes, as well as more bike paths and higher fuel prices, adjusted to the individual cities, could make a huge different. “Through this study we provide critical new insights into how different types of cities can most effectively mitigate the effects of climate change,” says Felix Creutzig, lead author of the study. “The mitigation potential is greatest in rapidly growing cities and in cities where infrastructure is not set in place. This way lock-in of high carbon emission pattern can be avoided.”
'What Are Pristine Aerosols and Where Are They Found?'
Institutes' News | 18 December 2014
Research from Scripps Institution of Oceanography is presented at the AGU Fall Meeting considered what constitutes pristine marine aerosols: a key compoment of climate reality. Lynn Russell, an atmospheric sciences professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who presented te findings said "We have chemically characterized the natural sources of organic components that can inform future studies of one of the most important unknowns in climate" . Russell discussed the results of the multi-institutional study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research in November, titled “Where and What is Pristine Marine Aerosol?”
ERC grant to support energy poverty & climate research
Institute's News | 15 December 2014
IIASA energy researcher Narasimha D. Rao has received a prestigious Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for a project on energy, climate change, and decent living standards" The 860,000 Euro grant will fund new interdisciplinary research exploring the intersection between energy access, climate change, and poverty. “This study is directly applicable to policy at both a country level and worldwide—particularly on the question of how to respect developing countries’ needs in international climate negotiations,” says Rao. Other collaborators of the project will include the Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology (NTNU), Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) in Germany, and the London School of Economics.
PRESS RELEASE 28 November 2014
“Climate change: the necessary, the possible and the desirable”
A group of leading scientists, including Earth League members laid out in a joint paper the key elements of the ‘the necessary, the possible and the desirable’ in relation to climate change, stressing the profound opportunities for transformation we have before us. The paper, published in Earth’s Future, was drafted following the Earth League Annual Workshop 2014: A World Under 2-4 degrees Warming, held in Santa Fe, New Mexico- the first in a series of climate activities and projects organised by the Earth League that will continue in the coming year and beyond. The full paper can be found here.
'Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal' released
Institutes' News | 23 November 2014
The third report is the series 'Turn Down the Heat' was launched today. The series of reports were repared for the Word Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics. The reports warn that the world is on track for a 4degree warming this century, unless concerted action is carried out. This third report finds that the world is already locked into a warming of about 1.5°C above pre-industrial times, and as a result there will be more severe droughts, sea level rise, and risk to water and food security. Christopher Reyer of PIK, who coordinated the report, said “The impacts in the various regions around the world are enormously diverse, yet two things become clear in our report: almost no region will ultimately be safe, and the risk for the people on the ground is greatest in places where several impacts overlap”.
The full report can be read here
World Bank press release can be found here
South Centre provide views from the South on IPCC Synthesis Report
Institutes News | 10 November 2014
SouthViews, from the South Centre, provides opinion on global and topical issues that looks to represents view's of the Global South. On the 10th November the Centre's Executive Director Martin Khor offered commentary on the the latest IPCC AR5 Sythensis Report released the previous week. Khor claimed the Report "indicates the world is doomed if present climate and emission trends continue, but the key solutions are as elusive as before". The full commentary can be read here.
Lord Stern comments on IPCC AR5 Synthesis Report
Members News | 4 November 2014
Lord Nicholas Stern, Chair of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science, commented on the publication of the Synthesis Report of the Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released last friday. Stern said that it is obvious that climatic changes are happening now and that if we surpass a 2 degree rise, the world and society will face great danger. He also commented on the refusal of Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, to prioritise climate change in the upcoming G20 summit in Brisbane. Stern's full comments can be read here.
SRC launches course on "Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities"
News | 24 October 2014
The Stockholm Resilience Centre, along with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, has launched the free open online course titled "Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities: The Quest for Safe and Just Development on a Resilient Planet". Johan Rockström is the course's main instructor, alongside Lisa Deutsch. The course is designed to help students both explore and apply crucial emerging concepts within sustainability science, such as the Anthropocene, planetary boundaries, the social-ecological systems approach and resilience thinking: "Approaches that are at the core of contemporary research and debates in the arena of global sustainability".
Dialogue between science and practice
News | 17 October 2014
Climate Service Center 2.0/Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht is organising a workshop focusing on transdisciplinary communication, stakeholder engagement and science-policy interface in Hamburg on 25-26 November 2014. The workshop aims to bring together scientists, practitioners and policymakers to consolidate the concept and definitions of transdisciplinarity, exchange experiences and share good-practice examples in transdisciplinary processes and stakeholder engagement. The workshop this year will be in German language, followed up by an international conference in 2015. Registration is now open. More information can be found here.
Research on climate-related disaster risk management
News | 16 October 2014
International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction day organised by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction was on Monday 13th. In line with this, Professor Colin Prentice, Chair of the AXA funded Biosphere and Climate Impacts programme at Imperial College London, is working on how to incorporate biological processes into climate models, as part of his ongoing research into predicting risks relating to climate change.
Report says coastal cities need to plan for climate change
News | 14 October 2014
A report titled Climate Resilient Coastal Cities says coastal cities in India need to plan for climate change as an integral part of city development. The report, brought out by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in association with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which looks at sea level rise and other climate impacts such as storms says India needs to plan and implement climate risk management strategies as its urban development. "India's coastal cities are particularly vulnerable on account of sea level rise as an impact of climate change, as well as the increase in frequency and intensity of climate related extreme events, which in recent years have caused substantial damage to life and property," R.K. Pachauri, director general, TERI, said in a video message.
Climate change to increase forest fire danger in Europe
News | 09 September 2014
A new study by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) says climate change is likely contribute to dramatic increases in forest fires across Europe, with a potential increase of 200% in areas burned by fires by 2090. The study, which was the first to examine adaptation to forest fire danger on a pan-European scale and was published in the journal Regional Environmental Change, said that better management of forests could work towards mitigating the problem, and focussed on two specific adaptation policies of prescribed burns and fire suppression.