Nobel Peace Prize Winner Provides Blueprint to Tackle Climate Change

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Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr Rolph Payet explained the human failures which have led to climate change and outlined his blueprint to overcome them at a special lecture in London.

Dr Rolph Payet (left) being presented with one of CeDEP's distance learning module study packs by Professor Andrew Dorward (right), Academic Director, Centre for Development, Environment and Policy, part of the School of Oriental and African Studies.

The issue of climate change is a wake-up call. Climate change has shown that actions in your homes have an impact upon me. We need to move away from thinking in silos and have to admit to our weaknesses before we move forward.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr Rolph Payet explained the human failures which have led to climate change and outlined his blueprint to overcome them at a special lecture in London.

At the event on 28 May he also launched and praised the new postgraduate distance learning module Climate Change and Development, which is run by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Payet, from the Seychelles, was the lead author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and he shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize jointly awarded to the IPCC and Al Gore. He is also a University of London External System alumnus.

During the lecture organised by the University of London External System, the London International Development Centre (LIDC) and the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP) at SOAS, Payet set out his ambitious hopes for the UN climate change conference in December. He wants the Copenhagen package to include:

  •     Agreeing on mechanisms that would lead to a reduction in greenhouse gases to 350-400 parts per million.
  •     Applying the polluter pays principle.
  •     Valuing the ecosystem in investment projects.
  •     Promoting sustainable green jobs.

The Special Advisor to the President of the Republic of the Seychelles emphasised the benefits of adopting multidisciplinary and integrated approaches towards climate change and development. He explained how climate change mitigation and adaptation are not mutually exclusive and how strategies such as coastal tree planting can benefit both mitigation and adaption efforts. Payet said he saw the current economic crisis as an "opportunity" to reassess the existing global economy and he has "hope" for the future.

His lecture, delivered at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, charted the "mistakes" which have led to climate change and are posing threats to small island states like the Seychelles. He spoke of the root causes of carbon emissions, including:

  •     Not paying the real environmental costs of human actions.
  •     Over-consumption.
  •     Failure to drive technological innovation.
  •     Lack of political solutions.

Payet illustrated the gross distortions in global consumption patterns: how the richest 20 per cent of the world's population consume 86 per cent of goods and services and 58 per cent of all energy supplies. His lecture also referred to the Icarus effect - how people do not react until they fly too close to the sun. Another warning referred to the prediction that sea level rise could cause the mass migration of 602 million people as land disappears and becomes uninhabitable. Payet added: "The issue of climate change is a wake-up call. Climate change has shown that actions in your homes have an impact upon me. We need to move away from thinking in silos and have to admit to our weaknesses before we move forward."

The new Climate Change and Development distance learning module, run by CeDEP, was also launched at the event entitled Countdown to Copenhagen: What Next for Climate Change and International Development? Payet said the module would help students and professionals to approach the complex issue of climate change and development in a multidisciplinary way and encourage them to ask the right questions. The module provides a foundational understanding of core natural and social science processes and of technical and policy issues, and will be available worldwide from February 2010.

Notes to editors

The London International Development Centre (LIDC) is a collaborative project which brings together social and natural scientists from across the University of London's six Bloomsbury Colleges (Birkbeck, Institute of Education, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Royal Veterinary College, School of Oriental and African Studies, and The School of Pharmacy).

LIDC aims to:

  • Develop high quality interdisciplinary research between the Colleges and other parties.
  • Develop new and innovative teaching programmes to support development goals.
  • Inform national and international policies on development through linking research, policy and practice.
  • Build capacity in low- and middle-income countries to address the needs of higher education and research institutions, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and governments.

To find out more about LIDC, its activities and events visit: http://www.lidc.org.uk

For further information contact:
Guy Collender
Communications Officer
London International Development Centre
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7958 8260
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 3073 8303

Binda Rai
Head of Global Media and Public Relations
University of London External System
Tel: +44 (0)20 7862 8545 (office)
+44 (0)7920 476483 (mobile)

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