Headline: Blog

The IASS blog contains contributions from employees in all IASS departments and covers a huge range of themes. In addition to discussing the latest research findings and events, the blog authors comment on political developments.


Has Coal Passed its Sell-by Date?

Very few commodities can point to such a long and successful career as coal. It was on hand at the start of the Industrial Revolution. And the mass production of the twentieth century would not have been possible without it. Even in the context of the rise of renewables in the twenty-first century, there were expectations of a coal ‘Renaissance’. Global coal consumption has in fact been increasing steadily – to 7 823 million tons in 2013.
A sudden demise?

But suddenly there’s talk of the demise or even the end of coal.

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The Solar Price Revolution

A silent revolution is under way. In November, Dubai announced the construction of a solar energy park that will produce electricity for less than $0.06 per kilowatt-hour – undercutting the cost of the alternative investment option, a gas or coal-fired power plant.

The plant – which is expected to be operational in 2017 – is yet another harbinger of a future in which renewable energy crowds out conventional fossil fuels.

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A Heady Cocktail for Growth that Lacks Tonic

Growth, too, isn’t what it used to be. Nowadays, it has to be ‘qualitative’, ‘pro-poor’, ‘inclusive’, ‘sustainable’, ‘green’, or even ‘smart’. And if one attribute doesn’t suffice, a mix of all of them will do: “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth” (EU Commission), “sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth” (UN) or “inclusive, pro-poor, green growth” (World Bank). This wonder-working growth cocktail, which is supposed to cure all of the twenty-first century’s ills, is nothing more than hot air.

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The Water-Energy Nexus: Seeking Integrated Solutions

Today is World Water Day. This year’s motto, ‘Water and Sustainable Development’, is in keeping with the prominent role sustainable development is expected to play in 2015. In September the United Nations will agree on a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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A Sustainable Urban Development Concept for Potsdam

A city is home to many people. Many people means many different journeys through the city. And that usually means lots of traffic – with lots of noise and air pollution. Various measures can be taken to minimise the effects of pollution on people and the environment. Air quality plans, for example, can help to prevent air pollutants from reaching critical levels. Urban development concepts, on the other hand, focus on expanding the public transport network, among other things.

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Are the Sustainable Development Goals Sustainable?

2015 is going to be a pivotal year for sustainable development: a global climate agreement is due to be negotiated in Paris in December; under Germany’s presidency, the G7 Summit in June will address sustainable economic growth; and the 193 UN Member States will gather in New York in September to agree on a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), thereby setting the course for the global Post-2015 Agenda.

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The City of Boulder: An Example of a Sustainable Community

I’m just back from a trip to the USA, where I attended a workshop on future perspectives for Arctic air pollution research. While I originally intended to write about the workshop here, I’ve decided to postpone that article and want instead to write about my experience of the host city, Boulder, Colorado - a city with a multitude of sustainability initiatives.
Boulder is one of the happiest cities in the U.S.

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Choosing the Right Trees for Urban Greening

Many cities are currently creating more green spaces and planting trees. The growing momentum to increase the amount of green space in urban areas, seen, for example, in various ‘Million Tree’ campaigns, brings many benefits to urbanites. A reduction in summer temperatures, additional recreational opportunities, and storm-water control are among the motivations behind such programmes.

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The Energiewende in 2014

With 2014 now firmly behind us, it is a good time to take stock of what last year meant for the Energiewende and identify the key issues that will shape 2015. Was 2014 a good year for Germany’s ambitious energy transition strategy? What positive results did it bring and what were the more worrying ones?

The Energiewende is a comprehensive programme aimed at transitioning Germany to a more sustainable energy system with drastically reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but also enhanced security of supply and economic efficiency.

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Q&A with Guy Brasseur: Communicating Science

How can ordinary people be familiarised with science? Few other researchers have devoted as much attention to this question as the Belgian atmospheric scientist Guy Brasseur. From 2009 to 2014, he was head of the Climate Service Center (CSC) in Hamburg, whose task is to communicate the latest climate research findings to politicians, scientists, and business people. Before he joined the Climate Service Center, Guy Brasseur headed the Earth and Sun Systems Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.

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Air Pollution and Climate Change: Fostering Better Decisions

A fireplace in the living room – some pay a premium for the cosy atmosphere, others consider it an irresponsible luxury. From an environmental point of view, wood-burning for residential heating isn’t the best option. While CO2 emissions are lower than those from gas and oil heating, it often results in greater emissions of air pollutants. Air pollution not only affects people’s health, but many air pollutants also play a role in short-term climate change.

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