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Indian-origin scientist chosen for UN`s highest environmental award

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - 19:03

Kolkata: An Indian-origin scientist, who proved how cutting emissions of "black carbon" or soot can significantly lessen the impact of climate change, has been selected for the United Nation`s top environmental award.

A statement issued by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Tuesday said Veerabhadran Ramanathan of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California is to receive the 2013 " Champions of the Earth award", the UN`s highest environmental award.

In 1997, he had co-led an international research team that first discovered the climate impact in Asia of widespread air pollution, known as the atmospheric brown cloud (ABC).

The prize is awarded annually to leaders from government, civil society and the private sector, whose actions have had a significant and positive impact on the environment.

"I am very honoured to accept this prestigious award, which recognizes the critical role of science and research in addressing the major environmental challenges of our time," Professor Ramanathan said in the statement.

A major UNEP study in 2011 of which Ramanathan acted as vice-chairman, presented 16 actions to cut black carbon and methane emissions, which, if implemented, would save close to 2.5 million lives a year through reduced respiratory illnesses, avoid crop losses amounting to 32 million tonnes annually, and deliver near-term climate protection of about 0.5 degree C by 2050.

Ramanathan`s studies on the climate warming effects of non-CO2 pollutants dates back to 1975, when he discovered the super greenhouse effect of a class of halocarbons known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Translating his research into action, he had started "Project Surya" in India to phase out inefficient cooking stoves.

The report estimated that implementing these measures would help keep average global temperature rise below the internationally-agreed 2 degree C target, at least until mid-century.


First Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - 19:03
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