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Stephen O. Andersen Earns Future of Life Award for Efforts Protecting Ozone Layer


Celebrating the Unsung Heroes of our Time

Washington, DC – The Future of Life Institute today announced that IGSD’s Director of Research Dr. Stephen O. Andersen has been selected for the Future of Life Award, alongside Dr. Susan Solomon and late Joseph Farman, for their dedicated efforts to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. Their efforts are recognized for helping make the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, signed in 1987, the most successful international treaty in history.

The Future of Life Award recognizes individuals who have taken exceptional measures to protect the common future of humanity. Those who, without having received much recognition at the time, have helped make today dramatically better than it may otherwise have been.

Dr. Andersen earned this honor for lifetime achievement while working for the IGSD, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Law Institute, the Consumer Energy Council, the University of Hawaii, and the College of the Atlantic. His tireless efforts brought together leaders from industry, government, and the scientific community to work together to make the Montreal Protocol a success. He is founding co-chair and 27-year member of the Montreal Protocol’s Technology and Economic Assessment Panel and is architect and implementer of the essential use exemptions. His contributions to the Protocol span technical, economic, policy, and societal aspects.

Dr. Susan Solomon led an Antarctic ozone research expedition in 1986-87. Her work confirmed that CFCs were causing ozone depletion and determined that sunlit cloud tops were catalyzing additional ozone-destroying reactions, thereby speeding up the rate of depletion. In the years that followed, both Farman and Solomon became effective public advocates for the development of the Montreal Protocol that their scientific work inspired.

“For those of us lucky enough to know Steve, we discover that he stays with us as a colleague and friend for the rest of our life,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of IGSD. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Steve for more than 40 years, first at the Environmental Law Institute where we both worked on energy efficiency during the first oil embargo, then when he served as an expert witness in lawsuits I was prosecuting in Alaska to protect the state’s natural and cultural resources and then again when Steve was at EPA. He joined IGSD over a decade ago after his distinguished career at the agency, and we’re were able to successfully organize the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the single biggest piece of mandatory climate mitigation ever undertaken.”

“It is astonishing what Dr. Andersen has accomplished,” said Marco González, Former Executive Secretariat of the UN Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and Montreal Protocol. “His contributions range from ozone to climate protection, from team-building of specialists in science, economics, and technology to working with global industries, from forging multinational voluntary agreements to persuading industry’s donation of patented technologies, and from working with governments to authoring game-changing papers and books. His innermost motivation is what’s best for the Planet, his work to protect the Ozone Layer is wide and profound.”

“I am honored to join the ranks of previous winners of the Future of Life Award. This affirmation of my work is a reminder of how incredibly grateful I am for the amazing people I work with protecting the stratospheric ozone layer and climate,” said Dr. Stephen O. Andersen.

“Winning this award reminds me of how much I appreciate the power of ambitious and fearless teams. It is simply the case that protection of the stratospheric ozone layer required governments, corporations, and citizens to work relentlessly for the global good. We did it for ozone, and we can do it for climate!”

The 2017 Future of Life award went to Vasily Arkhipov for solely preventing a Soviet nuclear attack on the United States in 1962, and the 2018 award went to Stanislav Petrov for his help in preventing an accidental nuclear war in 1983. The 2019 award honored Dr. Matthew Meselson for his outstanding contributions to banning biological weapons and focusing biology on cure, and the 2020 award honored Dr. William Feiji and Dr. Victor Zhdanov for their successes in eradicating smallpox and banning biological weapons. The award is funded by Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn and presented by the Future of Life Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes the positive use of technology.

The Future of Life Institute’s release on the 2021 Future of Life Award is available here.