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„Scientific foundation for the Paris Agreement“: UNFCCC head Espinosa laudates climate economist Edenhofer

07/05/2018 - In recognition of his outstanding contributions to tackling the climate challenge, Ottmar Edenhofer has been awarded with the Romano Guardini Prize of the Catholic Academy in Bavaria. As chief economist and designated Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) as well as Founding Director of the Mercator Research Institute for Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), Edenhofer has both advanced the science and served as a political advisor. The Prize has been handed over in Munich in a festive ceremony attended by more than 200 high-ranking guests from politics, science, business, and religion.
„Scientific foundation for the Paris Agreement“: UNFCCC head Espinosa laudates climate economist Edenhofer

Guardini prize winner Ottmar Edenhofer between Cardinal Reinhard Marx and UNFCCC head Patricia Espinosa

For the landmark Paris Agreement in which governments worldwide committed themselves at limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, “Ottmar Edenhofer laid the scientific foundation,” said Patricia Espinosa who held the laudation for the award. A former Foreign Minister of Mexico, she is today head of the United Nations Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC). “Without his work in the IPCC, the Agreement might not have been possible,” said Espinosa. Edenhofer led the Working Group on ‘Mitigation’ for the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “He is more than a man of our time, he is a man of our future,” said Espinosa.

“We need a new idea of progress,” said Cardinal Reinhard Marx in his speech, emphasizing that Edenhofer is very actively contributing to the development of such a science-based and value-driven idea. The concept of the atmosphere as a common good that should not be overused by some as a waste dump for greenhouse gases made its way into Pope Francis’ Encyclical ‘Laudato Sí’, Marx pointed out. In fact the Guardini Prize was awarded to Edenhofer not least because of his advice to the Pope, said Academy Director Florian Schuller. Bavaria’s Minister for the Environment also praised Edenhofer for his tireless work.

Edenhofer himself told the audience that what he experienced when working for a Christian relief organization in the war in Bosnia and Croatia is one key for his current work on climate change mitigation. “The varnish of civilization is thin,” he said. Climate impacts such as yield losses or droughts can fuel smoldering conflicts in some regions that might eventually explode. Edenhofer called for strengthening multilateralism, not nationalism. And in the face of migration, he said, especially Christians should remember the fundamental value of preserving human dignity.

Past winners of the Guardini Prize include the social ethicist and economic philosopher Oswald von Nell-Breuning, Nobel Prize laureate in physics Werner Heisenberg, former German Constitutional Court judge Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, the composer Carl Orff, the theologian Karl Rahner, and former German Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker.

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