Klaus Töpfer (c)IASS/Piero Chiussi/Agentur StandArt
After nearly six years at the helm of the IASS, Klaus Töpfer bade farewell as its executive...
Sebastian Unger, Klaus Töpfer (both IASS) and Pascal Hector (German Foreign Office) discuss Germany’s contribution to a legally binding agreement for better protection of the high seas. © IASS/Piero Chiussi
Germany’s contribution to protecting and sustainably using the biodiversity of the high seas...
Potsdam Summer School (c) IASS/David Ausserhofer
Humans are repeatedly confronted with natural disasters such as storms, floods and...
Severe flooding occurred during the 2011 monsoon season in Thailand. © istock/gdagys
The growing world population, climate change, rapid urbanisation, and the...
(c) istock/robertsrob
Water is of utmost importance – both for human survival and for sustainable...
Recent studies in the United States found that methane leaks from gas processing plants could be several times higher than previously estimated. (c) istock/westphalia
In recent years, numerous air measurement campaigns in shale gas fields in the United States...
(c) Matheus Zanella
Secure land rights for all are a critical component of a transformational agenda.
(c) IASS/David Ausserhofer
Greenhouse gas removal and albedo modification techniques cannot be counted on to...
(c) istock/steo1475
Across Europe, the modernisation and expansion of the electric grid has become...
How are the SDGs to be effectively implemented in Europe? This question was discussed by participants of a workshop in Brussels. © European Commission
In September of this year, UN Member States will agree on a set of sustainable development goals.
IASS Scientific Director Mark Lawrence and colleagues set up scientific instruments to monitor atmospheric parameters in Lumbini in southern Nepal. © Birgit Lode
South Asia stands out globally as a region that not only suffers from high exposure to air pollution...
Wind turbines in Morocco. There is strong political support for an energy transition in the North African country. © istock/VerdeeProduction
Germany has pioneered the use of renewable energy sources in the last 20 years. Its ambitious...


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

An important crossroads: at the end of September the UN member states voted on a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to initiate a global transformation towards sustainability. The Sustainable Development Goals are more extensive than their precursor, the eight Millennium Development Goals, which have often been criticised for not giving enough attention to the ecological dimensions of sustainability, or for considering it only in isolation. The primary goal remains the eradication of poverty. Read More

CO₂: From Waste to Feedstock

Economic activities and consumer behaviour in developed countries are currently based mainly on the use of fossil-based raw materials, whose emissions are largely responsible for anthropogenic climate change. In efforts to reduce human effects on the climate, the avoidance of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is and remains the most important measure. But viewing the greenhouse gas CO2 as a source of carbon can also make sense. In recent years scientists have been investigating so-called Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) technologies. The aim of these technologies is to re-cycle the CO2 contained in emissions as a feedstock for industrial processes. This captured CO2 could replace fossil-based carbon as a component of materials and energy carriers, thereby creating a carbon cycle. Read More

Sustainable Arctic Futures: A Regional and Global Challenge

Temperatures in the Arctic are currently rising twice as fast as in most other regions on the planet, a phenomenon most strikingly evidenced by the decreasing extent and volume of Arctic sea ice over the last decades. The processes currently under way in the Arctic are embedded in climate, economic, legal and social systems and processes that reach far beyond the Arctic Circle.

Read More

Air Pollution and Climate Change

Air pollution and climate change are closely related. The main sources of CO2 emissions – the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – are not only key drivers of climate change, but also major sources of air pollutants. Furthermore, many air pollutants that are harmful to human health and ecosystems also contribute to climate change by affecting the amount of incoming sunlight that is reflected or absorbed by the atmosphere, with some pollutants warming and others cooling the Earth. These so-called short-lived climate-forcing pollutants (SLCPs) include methane, black carbon, ground-level ozone, and sulfate aerosols. They have significant impacts on the climate. Read More

Climate Engineering

While there is still hope that risks from climate change can be limited by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, there is also a perception that ‘time is running out’. This perception of a looming watershed has given rise to calls for research on intentional, large-scale interventions into the climate system, referred to as either ‘climate engineering’ or ‘geoengineering’. Both terms describe a diverse and largely hypothetical array of methods for manipulating the global climate in order to moderate or forestall some of the numerous impacts of climate change. Read More


In the coming decades, the development of renewable energy sources (RES) such as wind and solar will play a major role in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and making our energy system more sustainable. But the places where RES are available or would be most efficient are often located far away from the densely populated and industrial areas where the energy is needed: on the open sea in the case of wind and in sunnier climes in the case of solar. This means that the construction of new power lines needs to go hand in hand with RES development. In Germany for instance, expanding the electrical grid has become a crucial precondition for the success of the Energiewende. Read More


The Potential of Multi-Level Global Climate Governance

This IASS Policy Brief explores the architecture of global climate governance.
Read More

The Innovation Fund as a Complementary Financing Model for Renewables

A proposal for a more broad-based financing of the Energiewende
Read More

Shale Gas and Fracking in Europe

A comprehensive overview of the main concepts and issues associated with shale gas and fracking.
Read More

The History, Impact and Limits of Economic Expertise

A close examination of the historical emergence of economic expertise
Read More

A New Chapter for the High Seas?

Historic decision to negotiate an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity
Read More


Sustainable Development Goals Must Recognise the Importance of Soils

In recent years research towards sustainable land policy has become a central pillar of the work undertaken at the IASS.

Read More
“Many Causes of Natural Disasters are Political and Social”: Q&A with David Alexander

The growing world population, climate change, rapid urbanisation, and the international interdependence of economies are all increasing our vulnerability to natural hazards.

Read More



Expert Consultation: Shifting Decision Culture Through the Stakeholder

Shifting negotiation and decision culture through enhanced awareness...
Read More


Conference: The Local Level in Multi-level Climate and Energy Governance

The global process of urbanisation and the importance of city-level action...
Read More


High-Level Event: Follow-up and Review of the Post-2015 Development Agenda

In collaboration with UN Habitat, UNEP, Landesa, the Global Land Indicators...
Read More

19.10.2015 to 20.10.2015

Conference: Bioenergy and Development

Bioenergy is a fast-growing sector, but experiences have been mixed and there are conflicting messages about the potential for different sources...
Read More

07.10.2015 to 09.10.2015

Conference: Deep-Sea Mining

The world’s first deep-sea mine will open in 2018 in the waters off Papua New Guinea
Read More


Better Save Soil

Watch video

Let's Talk About Soil - English

Watch video

Outlaws in Air City (Fast Forward Science 2014)

Watch video

Engineering the climate?

Watch video