Headline: Climate & 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.

Projekte

Climate Action in National and International Processes (ClimAct)

The ClimAct project is designed to build a bridge between the scientific expertise of the IASS and climate action within national and international political processes, with particular emphasis on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate negotiations and the activities of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).

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Dossiers

Intense Debate about Targeted Interventions in the Climate System

Climate Engineering Dossier

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’.

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.

New technologies use carbon dioxide emissions

CO₂: From Waste to Feedstock Dossier

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.

Opportunities and risks, instruments and actors

The Paris Agreement and Global Climate Policy Dossier

Human activities are largely responsible for climate change, which is already having an observable effect on our planet. Particularly emissions from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and gas have led to an increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Key indicators of climate change – including rising average temperatures, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels – are expected to have devastating consequences for humans and environments. Tackling the challenge posed by climate change will require a coordinated and global effort.

Addressing the interlinkages between greenhouse gases, climate change and air quality

Air Pollution and Climate Change Dossier

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.

News

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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