UQ scientist among ‘world’s most influential’ in climate policy

University of Queensland researcher Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg has been named as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in climate policy for 2019.

The Apolitical list, which includes nature icon Sir David Attenborough and 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, lauds politicians, civil servants, academics and activists who have raised awareness of and demanded change to climate policy.

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said he was humbled to be included and would continue to use his influence to pressure government and industry to address the issue.

“We need to make sure science is listened to if we are going to get the policy right,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.

“We are starting to see a change in government response to climate change, and there’s no longer any excuse to say the science is contentious.”

As well as leading the Global Change Institute, Professor Hoegh-Guldberg is Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, which investigates how global warming and ocean acidification are affecting coral reefs.

In collaboration with international experts, he has identified reefs that could be less vulnerable to climate change and are well positioned to help regenerate surrounding, less resilient reefs.

“The identification of reefs with the best opportunity to survive over coming decades may hold the key to the long-term survival and recovery of reefs everywhere,” he said.

“It will be essential for reef scientists and conservation specialists to reach out to people, governments and industries to better mitigate or manage ongoing local threats.

“We know the science, we know the threats, and now we need the policy.”

The list was decided by nominations from public servants, experts at Harvard and Oxford, Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Climate Action Network.

Apolitical is a peer-to-peer learning platform for governments used by public servants and policymakers in more than 160 countries.

Apolitical executive chairman Lisa Witter said the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was urgent.

“By showcasing these climate policy leaders, we hope to encourage more collaboration and exchange to accelerate the effective response to the global climate threat,” she said.

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