Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Prestigious Sustainable Development Prize Awarded to Pioneering Climate Scientists Ramanathan and Hansen

If the world would to listen to their wisdom, we might still avert climate chaos

Taipei, Taiwan, 18 June 2018— Today the third biennial Tang Prize for Sustainable Development 2018 was awarded to Professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan and Dr. James E. Hansen recognizing their pioneering work on climate change and its impact on the sustainability of the earth.

Professor V. Ramanathan was the first scientist to discover the significant greenhouse effects of non-COgases and aerosols, including short-lived climate pollutants, in warming the Earth’s climate. His discovery on the climate forcing effects of chlorofluorocarbons was seminal to the language of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985 to include climate effects. Ramanathan’s later efforts on these non-COsuper pollutants, including methane and black carbon, contributed to the creation in 2012 of the UN Environment’s Climate & Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants.

Dr. Hansen was one of the first scientists to sound the alert on climate change. In 1988 he famously announced in televised testimony before the US Congress, “global warming is here,” as the observed temperature record exhibited an atypical rise above the statistical noise of natural fluctuations. Dr. Hansen’s testimony was pivotal in the history of global climate change.

“The lifetime commitment to science of Professor Ramanathan and Dr. Hansen built the foundation for the global sustainability agenda as we know it,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “Not only are they great scientists, but they’re also sophisticated policy advocates.  If the world would listen to their wisdom, we might still have a chance to avert climate chaos.”

Ramanathan and Hansen are today leading the way to promote a three-lever strategy to keep the climate safe by limiting warming to well below 2°C by: cutting carbon dioxide emissions by shifting to renewables and promoting energy efficiency; cutting short-lived climate pollutants, which can provide twice or more avoided warming as cutting long-lived carbon dioxide can through 2050; and managing carbon dioxide after it has been emitted, by capturing it and turning it into useful products like cement and fuel, and by expanding forests and other ecosystems, including grasslands, wetlands, and mangroves.

The Tang Prize committee stated, “Scientific foundation is a pre-condition for action. Recognizing Dr. James Hansen and Prof. Veerabhadran Ramanathan with the 2018 Tang Prize in Sustainable Development acknowledges the extraordinary value of rigorous scientific inquiry and forthright public communication of science leading to actions for the benefit of humanity.

Past winners of the Tang Prize include Professor Arthur H. Rosenfeld (2016) for his pioneering innovation in energy efficiency and Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland (2014) for her innovation and global leadership in the creation and promotion of the field of sustainable development.

More information on the work of Professor Ramanathan, is here.

Hansen’s latest paper, Young people’s burden: requirement of negative CO2emissions, is here.