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.


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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The Protection of the Oceans is a Central Task for the G7

The German presidency of the G7 began in early 2015 and the international protection of the sea is high on the alliance’s agenda. At the United Nations in New York this week, a decision will be made on whether to begin negotiations on a new agreement to protect the oceans. Parallel to that and in the same location, states will discuss global Sustainable Development Goals, one of which (Goal 14) addresses the sustainable use of the oceans.

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Choice Architecture in Urban Space

Part 2 of a blog series on climate protection and structural change through participation by Katleen de Flander and Ina Richter

The German Climate Action Goal for 2050 foresees an 80 to 95 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases compared to 1990. If we are to take this goal seriously, I believe there are two crucial things to keep in mind starting from this very moment. Firstly, impact offsetting (e.g. companies purchasing carbon credits to compensate for their own emissions) is hardly a good way of reaching this target, since it mostly moves action beyond national borders.

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Raw Materials in Mobile Phones: Our Work with Schools

The teachers who participate in our workshops on using mobile phones more sustainably often ask us: “How much energy is saved by recycling metals?” The answer usually surprises them: by recycling aluminium, palladium and silver, we can save over 90 per cent of the energy that would otherwise be used to extract those metals. When we consider the entire lifecycle of a mobile phone – from raw material extraction and production through utilisation and recycling – over 60 per cent of the energy required is used in the extraction phase alone.

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You Are What You Breathe? Measuring Air Quality in Berlin

Berlin may not be the Netherlands, but there is definitely a fair amount of bicycling infrastructure throughout the city. And if you’re biking in Berlin you’re not alone on the road with only cars for company either. The debate about which cities are the best for biking aside, I enjoy biking, and this summer I biked home from work at least once a week. For me, this meant a journey of roughly 30 km and just under two hours depending on traffic, traffic lights, and how much energy I had at the end of the work day.

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Climate Action Programme – On the Need for ‘Structural’ Change

Part 1 of a blog series on climate protection and structural change through participation by Katleen de Flander and Ina Richter

In recent weeks, the issue of climate protection has been high on the national and international political agenda. At international level, participants at the UN Climate Conference in Lima last week laid the foundations for a global climate agreement that is due to be concluded next year in Paris.

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