Environmentalists cheer Nobel Prize winners

Posted: 12 October 2007

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been welcomed by environmentalists as a triumph for the planet and its inhabitants, who will increasingly struggle to adjust as the world warms.

"It is with extreme satisfaction that we receive the news that Gore and the IPCC have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize," said Oystein Dahle, Chairman of the Board of the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute. Speaking from his home in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, where the Prize was announced, Dahle said, "With their decision, the Nobel Committee has for the second time signaled that peace with the environment is an essential requirement if we are to have peace between human beings."

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said: "The two winners - the IPCC and former US Vice-President Al Gore - have contributed significantly to elevating public attention on the issue of global warming while outlining the enormous risks but also the enormous opportunities confronting the world...

"This now needs to be translated into negotiations on a decisive, post 2012 emissions reduction agreement, when governments gather in December in Bali for the UN climate convention meeting."

Al Gore, who has spent years studying the issue and its impacts, has used his famous film and slide show to bring a greater awareness of climate change to a wide popular audience, said Worldwatch.

"The IPCC" it added, "has concluded that as the world warms, storms, droughts, and floods will intensify, leading to increased natural disaster risks.Populations already living in areas prone to drought or extreme weather patterns, many of them with limited capacity to adapt and cope, will face even greater challenges. Climate change will also overtax the world's food and water systems, which will exacerbate conflicts over resources. The world's poor, many of whom lack adequate water, sanitation, or reliable food supplies, will be most directly affected," .

Greatest threat

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an environmental leader for the first time in 2004. Wangari Maathai from Kenya was honoured for founding the Green Belt Movement, which has helped women plant over 30 million trees in Africa.

Worldwatch said it welcomed this renewed focus on the connection between human needs, security, and the environment, a theme that will resonate throughout the 21st century.

"Climate change is the greatest long-term threat to peace and security the world has ever known," says Christopher Flavin, Worldwatch InstitutePresident. "This prize marks another turning point for the climate issue - the question now is whether law makers around the world will riseto the challenge of implementing new treaties and laws that reduce the world's dangerous addiction to fossil fuels."

Profile:Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai