Nobel Peace Prize

Bren Scholars Aided Peace Prize Work

Santa Barbara, CA –As a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Bren Professor of Environmental Economics Charles Kolstad joined thousands of IPCC participants in work that earned the group a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded jointly to former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

“It’s appropriate that the IPCC share the award with Al Gore,” said Kolstad from UC Berkeley, where he was spending time during his fall-semester sabbatical from the Bren School. “IPCC is the leading bright light in the climate debate. There are maybe 3,000 people involved in this important shared effort.”

Also contributing to the chapter was Nicholas Burger, a Bren MESM graduate who is now pursuing his Ph.D. in Economics via the Economics of Environmental Science (EES) program. The multidisciplinary partnership between the Bren School and the UCSB Department of Economics is directed by a steering committee, which is chaired by Kolstad.

"On behalf of our campus community, I am delighted to congratulate our UCSB colleagues who have made important contributions to the work of the IPCC through research, writing, and personal participation,” said UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “We are proud of the collaborative work being conducted by our distinguished colleagues at the Bren School and across the disciplines on climate change issues. We also appreciate the role of our faculty, staff, and students in making UC Santa Barbara a leader and exemplary 'living laboratory' for environmental sustainability."

Kolstad was a lead author on the chapter “Policies, Instruments and Co-operative Arrangements,” which was part of a larger report titled “Climate Change 2007: Mitigation,” one of three volumes that make up the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment of its long-term work on climate change. The other two sections addressed the science and impacts of climate change.

The Nobel Committee made its announcement Friday in Oslo, recognizing Gore and the IPCC for their “efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”

“By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore,” the announcement read, “the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind.”

In saying that IPCC reports issued over the past 20 years had “created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming,” the Committee linked those reports to potential violent conflict and wars that could result should extreme climate change occur.

“Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind,” the Committee wrote. “They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth's resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.”

The press credited “thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries who have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.

The Committee recognized Gore for his part in raising awareness of climate change through his lectures, his political work, his nonprofit and the broad visibility of his Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

“He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted,” the Committee wrote.

The Nobel Peace Prize is the only one of the five Nobel Prizes that is selected by a Norwegian committee. The other four are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden.

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The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is home to an interdisciplinary graduate program focused on environmental problem solving through the integration of science, management, law, economics, and policy. Offering both a professional Master of Environmental Science & Management degree and a Ph.D. track, the School’s mission is to play a leading role in researching environmental issues, training scientists and environmental management professionals, and identifying and solving environmental problems around the world. It is ranked among the top four programs of its kind in the nation and is the only such program in the western United States. For more information, go to www.bren.ucsb.edu.