Blue Planet Prize Current Year Winners

2021 (30th)
Blue Planet Prize Winners

Prof. Veerabhadran Ramanathan

Prof. Veerabhadran Ramanathan

Prof. Mohan Munasinghe

Prof. Mohan Munasinghe
Sri Lanka

Prof. Veerabhadran Ramanathan (USA)

Date of Birth: 24 November, 1944
Edward A. Frieman Endowed Presidential Chair in Climate Sustainability
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

Professor Ramanathan has spent decades investigating the climate effects of non-CO2 pollutants, including the role of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs): methane, tropospheric ozone, halocarbons (HFCs*1), and black carbon*2. His contributions include the discovery of the super greenhouse effect of halocarbons (CFCs*3), and clarifying the climate effects of black carbon through an international field project he led on Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABCs). He showed that reductions in SLCPs can rapidly reduce warming and significantly improve air pollution. He later took the initiative in global actions to reduce SLCPs.

*1 Hydrofuorocarbons (CFC alternatives), no ozone depletion potential but much greater global warming potential than CO2.
*2 Commonly known as soot; formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass.
*3 Chlorofluorocarbons, large ozone depletion potential and much greater global warming potential than CO2.

Statement from Prof. Ramanathan upon Notification of Selection

It is a great honor to be awarded the Blue Planet prize for short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) research. Reducing the planetary heat-trapping by four SLCPs is essential for quick reductions in global warming. The targeted SLCPs are: Methane; Black Carbon; tropospheric Ozone and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

The science of SLCPs has been known since 1975, when I was fortunate to discover the enormous heat-trapping effect of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which with HFCs belong to the halocarbons family. Warming might have already exceeded dangerous levels had CFCs not been phased out by the Montreal protocol to eliminate their ozone hole impacts.

We also have to phase-out Carbon-dioxide emissions by 2050 to stabilize long-term climate.

This prize is like the North Star for me since it will amplify my climate solution efforts - bridging gaps across political chasms and bringing science into alliance with policy and faith for climate actions.

Prof. Mohan Munasinghe (Sri Lanka)

Date of Birth: 25 July, 1945
Founder Chairman, Munasinghe Institute for Development (MIND)

Professor Munasinghe pioneered the integrative, transdisciplinary 'Sustainomics' framework which views development issues from environmental, social, and economic perspectives. Innovative concepts like 'balanced inclusive green growth (BIGG)' and 'millennium consumption goals (MCGs)' emerged from Sustainomics. BIGG calls for each country to take a sustainable development path in accordance with its development stage, while the MCGs ask the affluent, who consume most global output, to adopt consumption goals to reduce the burden on the planet. He has been developing practical activities using environmental economics and policy to implement these concepts worldwide.

Statement from Prof. Munasinghe upon Notification of Selection

It is encouraging to learn that the award committee has specifically acknowledged several key concepts I developed and their practical application worldwide, during almost 5 decades, including the Sustainomics framework, sustainable development triangle (economy, environment, society), balanced inclusive green growth (BIGG), and Millennium Consumption Goals (MCGs).

My research interests have evolved, from basic disciplines like engineering, physics and economics, to application sectors like energy, water, transport, ICT, and environmental resources, and finally to multidisciplinary topics like poverty, disasters, climate change and sustainable development. This eclectic experience helped me develop Sustainomics, as an integrative, trans-disciplinary methodology. Drawing on my past work and the global platform provided by the prestigious Blue Planet Prize, I will continue my modest efforts to make our planet more sustainable for all.

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