Headline: News 2023

Art Fellowship

Giving the Arctic Back Its Ice

Even if the global community were to double down in its efforts to protect the climate, it would not be able to give the Arctic Ocean back its ice. But, in a symbolic act, Hamburg-based conceptual artist Swaantje Güntzel has done just that: on 18 November, at Båtsfjord in the far north of Norway, she produced ice cubes from meltwater taken from the North Pole and let them slip into the sea. This artistic intervention is part of Güntzel's year-long fellowship at the Research Institute for Sustainability - Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (RIFS).

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Horizon Europe Grant

A Network for Healthier Cities

The transport sector is a major contributor to environmental degradation, including air and noise pollution, damage to ecosystems and human health. To monitor air and noise pollution and generate data that will aid in assessing their health impacts related to it, the new research project Net4Cities will develop research infrastructure in eleven European cities in ten countries. This research and infrastructure will support efforts to implement the Zero Pollution Action Plan as part of the European Green Deal. The project is coordinated by the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) in Potsdam.

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Climate Policy

Pivotal Moment for Humanity as Tipping Point Threats and Opportunities Accelerate

The world has reached a pivotal moment as threats from Earth system tipping points – and progress towards positive tipping points, accelerate – a new report shows. The Global Tipping Points Report, the most comprehensive assessment of tipping points ever conducted, says humanity is currently on a disastrous trajectory. The speed of fossil fuel phase out and growth of zero-carbon solutions will now determine the future of billions of people.

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Franco-German Forum for the Future

Accelerating Transformations With Agile Public Administration

From adapting public spaces to climate change to rethinking mobility and decarbonising the heat supply – cities are grappling with major transformation processes as they move towards a more resilient and climate-friendly future. The Franco-German Forum for the Future and the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) in Potsdam have investigated how local authorities are adapting their planning processes to deal with these dynamic challenges. A new study explores an innovative solution developed by the City of Munich.

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RIFS Policy Brief

The Silver Bullet Fallacy of “Net Zero”

A new RIFS Policy Brief warns that the promise of future technologies for the abatement and removal of carbon dioxide is being used to justify inaction on reducing fossil fuels, even though this is incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C. Ahead of COP28 in Dubai, the authors urge policymakers to face up to the inescapable reality that achieving the goal of “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) will require deep and rapid reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, and that this in turn means nearly completely phasing out fossil fuels.

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No Significant Link Between Industry 4.0 and Energy Consumption Or Energy Intensity

To what extent does the digitalisation of industrial and manufacturing processes (Industry 4.0) improve energy efficiency and thus reduce energy intensity? A team from the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) analysed developments across ten industrial manufacturing sectors in China between 2006 and 2019. Their findings show that contrary to the claims of many policymakers and industry associations, digitalisation may not automatically lead to anticipated energy savings in manufacturing and industry in China.

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Climate Finance

Green Climate Fund Fails to Strengthen Private Sector Engagement

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the world’s largest dedicated multilateral climate fund, and aims to support climate mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries. Mobilizing financial resources from the private sector is an important priority for the donor countries backing the GCF. However, so far the GCF has underperformed in this respect. According to a new study by Thomas Kalinowski (Ewha Womans University, Seoul, and Research Institute for Sustainability - Helmholtz Centre Potsdam) this is due to numerous shortcomings in the GCF’s strategy.

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Marine Regions Forum 2023

Enhancing Cooperation and Coordination to Advance Ocean Governance

Hosted in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region by the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Seychelles, the Marine Regions Forum 2023 convened under the theme, “Navigating ocean sustainability in the WIO and beyond.” The three-day conference was co-hosted by the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Seychelles and brought together experts from the WIO and other marine regions to strengthen cooperation and coordination for marine governance in the WIO region and beyond by sharing knowledge and best practices.

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Klaus Töpfer: Building Bridges for Sustainable Development for All

Sustainable Development: A Challenge for All Humankind" - was the title of an event held on 7 November 2023 to celebrate the 85th birthday and achievements of Prof. Dr Klaus Töpfer. The event was organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Research Institute for Sustainability - Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (RIFS - formerly IASS) and the foundation Stiftung Zukunftsfähigkeit, which is affiliated with the NGO Germanwatch. In this report, Klaus Milke, Chair of the Board of Stiftung Zukunftsfähigkeit, shares his impressions of the evening.

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