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Climate Change:
Briefing, New York, 02 November 2009

Special Briefing on "Copenhagen 2009: The Fierce Urgency of Now"

by Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber,
Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research &
Chair of the German government’s Advisory Council on Global Change

2 November 2009
New York, ECOSOC Chamber


Webcast: Archived Video - English
2 hours
Webcast: Archived Video - Original Language 2 hours

Briefing Summary

Professor Schellnhuber will present on how only a small budget of carbon dioxide is left for humanity to emit, and without large-scale reductions in the near future, nonlinear changes in environmental conditions or "tipping points" will jeopardize the livelihoods of billions worldwide.

The Arctic sea-ice and the Greenland Ice Sheet as the most sensitive of such "tipping" elements, but as the Professor will discuss, others like the Amazon rain forest, monsoon systems and the El Niño phenomenon are candidates for surprising society.

About Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

Professor Hans Joachim SchellnhuberHans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany is one of the world’s foremost climate scientist and the driving force behind the Berlin Nobel Laureate Symposium in 2008, inaugurated by Chancellor Angela Merkel, and its follow-up, the Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability at St. James’s Palace, London in May 2009, hosted by HRH the Prince of Wales. The participants at the St. James’s Palace Symposium included Nicholas Stern, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri, Peace Nobelist Wangari Maathai, Literature Nobelist Wole Soyinka, and many others including Mr. Tariq Banuri, DSD/DESA.

Professor Schellnhuber has authored about 210 articles and more than 40 books in the fields of condensed matter physics, complex systems dynamics, climate change research, Earth System analysis, and sustainability science.

In addition to his longstanding membership in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Professor Schellnhuber is active on numerous national and international panels for scientific strategies and policy advice on environment and development matters. 

Leading German climate scientist urges UN to act on climate change:

“The window of opportunity to avert the most serious impacts of climate change is closing rapidly,” “The climate system has clearly started to drift away from the familiar domain where historic experiences apply,”

-Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

Read more in the press release prduced by Prof. Schellnhuber's office

Previous in the briefing series

DESA, in partnership with key organizing countries, brought Nobel Laureate Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, to discuss the scientific basis for climate policy.