Telephone interview with Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), following the announcement of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, 12 October 2007. The interviewer is Adam Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Nobelprize.org.
[Rajendra Pachauri] – Hello.
[Adam Smith] – Hello, this is Adam Smith from the Nobel Foundation’s website.
[RP] – Yes sir.
[AS] – Is this a possible time to talk, quickly?
[RP] – Sure.
[AS] – Thank you. So, congratulations of course on the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
[RP] – Thank you.
[AS] – What do you think the Nobel Peace Prize means to the IPCC?
[RP] – What do they mean to the IPCC or to the world?
[AS] – Uh, either, or both!
[RP] – I mean, for the IPCC it’s really a big honour and you know it just provides an enormous amount of encouragement to all the scientists and experts who worked tirelessly to produce the reports of the panels, and I mean this is an honour that no-one could have anticipated. And as far as the world is concerned, I think it’s a very clear message that climate change is extremely important. Could you just hold half a minute?
[AS] – Certainly, yes.
[RP] – Hold just half a minute.
[AS] – Of course, yes.
[RP, to unknown person] – Well they can call 15 minutes later.
[Unknown, to another telephone caller] – Can you call back in 15 minutes.
[RP] – Yeah, sorry. Yeah, I think as far as the world is concerned, I think it’s a very clear signal that the Nobel Prize Committee is clearly indicating that climate change is something that needs attention. It’s a serious problem, and it therefore requires urgent attention, from the world and the global community.
[AS] – And I know that your fourth Assessment Report is due out soon, but that you’ve already received your contributions from your working groups.
[RP] – Right.
[AS] – Do the latest findings make you more or less hopeful that, if the world does pay attention to this, we can prevent the effects of anthropogenic climate change?
[RP] – Well I think the response to the three working group reports has been totally unprecedented, far beyond my expectations and those of everybody else that’s involved in the business, and therefore we expect that the synthesis report, which is due to come out next month, will also be received with a great deal of interest. And I think the result so far has been that there’s an enormous amount of awareness and understanding of everything related to climate change. Not only among the public, but I would say also the world leaders. And therefore there’s every reason to hope that there will be some action now on this front.
[AS] – And my last question. If individuals were to ask you what they should do to help …
[RP] – Yes, yes.
[AS] – … what would your message to them be?
[RP] – Well I would say two things. Firstly I think we should ponder and consider, ponder over and consider, the carbon footprint that each of our actions is producing. And I think if we create a consciousness that this world has to move towards a low carbon future, then I think it would certainly set us in a somewhat different direction from what we’ve been following. And secondly I think there is need for major behavioural changes, and changes in lifestyles, and I think if the public puts adequate pressure on governments then governments will frame policies, including putting a price on carbon, that will provide the right signals to the market as well for developing new technologies and being able to disseminate them on a large scale.
[AS] – OK.
[RP] – So, in general, that’s what I would say.
[AS] – OK, thank you very much indeed.
[RP] – Thank you.
[AS] – Thank you for sparing the time to talk to us and once again congratulations.
[RP] – Thank you very much, thanks very much.
[AS] – Bye, bye.
[RP] – Bye.
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Your questions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
After the 2007 Nobel Prize announcements, visitors to Nobelprize.org had the possibility to submit questions to the 2007 Nobel Laureates. Here, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, answers a selection of the questions.
Question: Do you think that global warming will be taken more seriously because of the Nobel Peace Prize that you have received?
David Frenkel, age 13, Hungary
Answer: In 2007 there was already a high level of awareness among the public worldwide on the scientific findings of the IPCC. Hence climate change and global warming were being taken seriously but, of course, the award of the Nobel Peace Prize clearly heightened the level of awareness and the seriousness with which people now view the problem.
Question: Honestly speaking, can we really expect complete reversal of man-made global climate change some time in the near future as a result of the concerted efforts being made in this direction?
Sudhanshu Saxena, age 28, India
Answer: There cannot be a complete reversal of man-made climate change in the foreseeable future, and in fact even if we were to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases at existing levels, climate change will continue for several decades. Hence, we would have to adapt to a certain level of climate change irrespective of what we do on the mitigation side. But this fact also highlights the urgency of taking early action with mitigation, because otherwise the problem could certainly become far more serious.
Question: Is it possible to bring about economical and efficient energy usage for the majority of the world’s population without harming the environment?
Sneha Sankar, age 15, India
Answer: A major transition would be required towards a more efficient use of energy and a shift towards greater use of low carbon fuels. All of this is indeed possible on an economic and efficient basis, but we would need a framework of policies and adequate investment in research and development to bring about a satisfactory transition.
Question: Who, or what, inspired you to enter your field of achievement?
Bobby Cerini, age 34, Australia
Answer: I have been convinced about the gravity of the climate change problem since 1988. This was not the result of any inspiration from outside but essentially a conviction that developed based on all that I read about the scientific basis of climate change.
Question: In one word, can you describe your reaction when you knew you had been awarded the Nobel Prize?
Young eager student, age 13, United States
Answer: I was indeed very happy when I heard the announcement of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize, and my immediate thoughts went to the thousands of experts who have contributed to the work of the IPCC. It was good to know that the entire community and its work had been acknowledged
Question: Has there ever been a time in your life and/or work when you have doubted what you were doing to the point that you seriously considered abandoning said work? Anna, age 16, United Kingdom
Answer: I have never considered abandoning whatever work I was doing. Of course, there are periods when one’s enthusiasm wanes and there are periods when it reaches a high, but I have never withdrawn from something that I was doing.
Question: Congratulations for your well deserved awards. My question is: Who, of all the other Nobel Laureates in your field, would you most want to meet and why?
Jim Foley, age 45, United States
Answer: There is no single individual who is now a Nobel Laureate whom I would like to meet more than any other. Having interacted with some from time to time I realize that each one of them has so much to offer. But among the contemporary Nobel Prize winners I am most fascinated by Amartya Sen, not only for his brilliance but his ability to understand and absorb knowledge from a range of very diverse disciplines. I would love to spend more time with him.
Question: First of all, congratulations! What will you do with the prize money? You have done something extraordinary to win the Nobel Prize – perhaps you deserve to spend it all on yourself!
Scott MacLeod, age 38, United States
Answer: The IPCC is discussing how to deal with the prize money from the Nobel Peace Prize. Since the award has gone to the organization, the IPCC would like to spend it on something that has lasting value.
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