Headline: Climate and Air Quality

Greenhouse gas emissions from human sources have increased dramatically since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. This has led to a 40 per cent increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750. There is strong scientific consensus that climate change and its various effects, including global warming and rising sea levels, are driven by these processes. Key sources of greenhouse gas emissions are also often major sources of air pollutants such as ozone precursors and particulate matter. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that air pollution is responsible for seven million premature deaths worldwide each year – and this figure is growing. In addition, climate change and air pollution both have severe impacts on agricultural production and consequently on food security. While distinct issues, there are many connections between climate change and air quality. Clearly, reducing greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions is critical to curbing climate change and safeguarding human health and food security.

The IASS conducts research on climate policy as well as the sources and impacts of air pollution and strategies for its mitigation. Our work on air quality focuses primarily on urban areas, particularly in Europe and South Asia, and pays particular attention to the close link between air quality and climate change. The IASS also monitors, analyses and contributes to the implementation of two key policy processes at the international level: the Paris Climate Agreement and the work of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC). Finally, researchers examine how technologies for removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere or for increasing the reflection of sunlight away from Earth are entering science, society, and politics.

Climate and Air Quality

Meeting with State Government

A Future Commission for Brandenburg

The Governor of Brandenburg and members of the state government came to the IASS on 12 December to discuss energy policy and climate protection. Together with the directors of the IASS and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), they explored the idea of a Future Commission to ensure that Brandenburg’s energy transition is socially responsible and economically sustainable.

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Contributing to the Sustainable Development of Arctic Regions

Sustainable Arctic Futures: A Regional and Global Challenge Dossier

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. At the end of summer 2012, the extent of Arctic sea ice was the lowest since satellite measurements began: a mere 3.41 million km2, which is 49% below the 1979 to 2000 average. Since then, summertime sea ice in the Arctic has remained at a historically very low level. 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.