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.

Dossiers

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.

Links 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.

Intense Debate about 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’.

News

Climate Action Plan 2050

IASS Director Ortwin Renn Appointed to Scientific Steering Committee for Climate Action

Germany’s Ministry of the Environment (BMU) and Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) have appointed IASS Director Ortwin Renn to the steering committee of the scientific platform for the German Climate Action Plan 2050. The committee, which is composed of up to ten renowned scientists and academics, is tasked with helping the German federal government advance and implement its long-term climate strategy.

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Research Projects Showcased in the Heart of Potsdam

In our daily lives we tend to hurry past construction sites. But the fence surrounding a major building site on Friedrich-Ebert-Straße in Potsdam has been attracting attention following the launch of a hugely interesting open-air exhibition on Saturday, 19 January. The exhibition showcases the range of research projects based in the city and explores its diverse research landscape.

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Blog Posts

Key Takeaways from COP24

The United Nations’ climate talks in Katowice, Poland this past December wrapped up with an agreement on the terms to finalize most of the Paris Rulebook and set the 2015 Paris Agreement into action. While the parties agreed on many important issues, the final text comes up short on several key fronts.

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