Headline: Blog

“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. Such major global challenges are the focus of the second international Potsdam Summer School on "Facing Natural Hazards", which is taking place from 14 to 23 September. One of the most well-known researchers in this field is David Alexander, a professor at the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction at University College London.

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Pro-poor Adaptation in Practice

In the past few years, there has been a growing consensus that climate change adaptation is a multi-faceted challenge; it cannot be addressed by simple solutions. The terms ‘integrated’, ‘multi-scalar’ and ‘comprehensive’ have all been used to describe the kind of measures required, with the underlying message to keep it complex!

All right, we got the message, but the question remains: how should adaptation work in practice?

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The UN Climate Change Conference in Paris: Q&A with Rómulo Acurio Traverso

Rómulo Fernando Acurio Traverso is the Deputy Representative of Peru for Climate Change. In this function, he played a central role in the previous United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conferences and is currently preparing the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris this year, where 96 countries will come together to seek a deal to limit emissions to less than 2˚C above pre-industrial levels.

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A Watershed Year for Climate Protection

It was one of the most important messages to emerge from the 2014 climate negotiations in Lima: beyond the discussions of goals and time frames, we mustn’t forget to take action. When climate negotiations take place once again at the end of this year in Paris, they should serve above all to give an emphatic boost to processes towards sustainable development and globally effective climate protection. In the fight against climate change, verifiable paths need to be identified and embarked upon in a concerted way.

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Sustainability Impacts of Industry 4.0

Can you be an engineer and ‘still’ ponder the big questions of humanity?

This question presented itself to me last year, when I was looking to take a new direction in my career after a number of years in classical engineering jobs. So, there’s no Nobel Prize or Fields Medal for engineering? Oh well. But isn’t it paradoxical that almost everybody in the Western Hemisphere relies on the products of engineering (e.g.

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Germany and Brazil – Two Very Different Pioneers of Renewable Energies

This August, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and other ministers will travel to Brazil for intergovernmental consultations. They should seize this opportunity to breathe new life into cooperation on renewables under the German-Brazilian energy partnership. Closer cooperation with Brazil – a country that has been an important frontrunner of the global expansion of renewables – would give further momentum to Germany’s international Energiewende policy.

The German-Brazilian energy partnership was initiated in 2008.

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Reforming the International Monetary System to Save the Climate

What does reforming the international monetary system have to do with saving the climate? As it happens quite a bit, says Robert Wade, Professor for Political Economy and Development at the London School of Economics. At a guest lecture at the IASS on 15 June, he described a number of proposals for reducing macroeconomic imbalances and strengthening the resilience of the international financial system.

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Fostering Synergies to Tackle Arctic Sustainability Challenges

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) 2015 in Toyama, Japan, organised by the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the Science Council of Japan. The event brought together nearly 700 international scientists, students, policy makers, research managers, Indigenous Peoples, and other key players with the goal of “developing, prioritizing and coordinating plans for future Arctic research”.

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The Potential of Big Data and Cycling

Did you know that after buses, cycling is the most effective use of road space? It’s not really surprising if you think about it, but still a cool statistic. Last week I attended the 4th National German Bicycling Congress. This year it was conveniently held around the corner from the IASS in Potsdam – so, ironically, I didn’t even need to bike there, I could just walk.

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Electricity Market Design: Will Demand React to Variations in Power Supply?

In the electricity sector, generation has always been driven by demand. But the Energiewende could turn this paradigm on its head. In what’s known as ‘demand response’, demand reacts to market signals and electricity consumption adapts to the level of generation from photovoltaic and wind energy. To give an example: on a winter’s evening German electricity consumption is very high, but there is no sunshine or wind. As a result, the so-called residual load – i.e. nationwide electricity consumption less generation from photovoltaic and wind energy – is also very high.

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