2014 Frederick R. Anderson Climate Change Award – James Hansen

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) is pleased to award the 2014 Frederick R. Anderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Addressing Climate Change to James Hansen for his seminal scientific work that has been instrumental in demonstrating the reality, scale, and urgency of climate change. Dr. Hansen’s courage, commitment, and integrity in calling for policy responses that adequately address these realities have brought widespread public awareness to this critical issue.

Dr. Hansen, formerly Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where he directs a program in Climate Science, Awareness, and Solutions.


Remarks by CIEL Climate & Energy Program Director Niranjali Amerasinghe:

“The greenhouse gas effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.” These words, delivered by Dr. Hansen at a congressional hearing in 1988 (the hottest year on record at the time), marked a watershed moment for the climate change movement. It was the first time a high profile government scientist openly stated that global warming had begun, that climate change is more than a theory, it’s a reality.

Since then Dr. Hansen has become the scientific face for climate change. But he did not stop there. On top of being a world renowned climate scientist, he is an advisor to congress, an activist who has been arrested for the cause, and an expert witness who supports efforts to litigate in defense of the climate and those who dare to do something about climate change. Dr. Hansen, your work, your courage, and your evolution from a concerned scientist to an outspoken advocate are truly inspirational. From your support of the King’sNorth 6 case and PlainsJustice, to your willingness to help defend two lobster fishermen who made a brilliant stand against coal, you have shown us how one individual can spark great change.

Your testimony 26 years ago influenced CIEL’s commitment to engage in international climate policy from our earliest years. Your stand in the courtroom has fueled and encouraged our efforts to use new litigation strategies to hold those most responsible for climate change accountable, and to defend the right to a safe climate for both present and future generations.

For years, the climate movement has called for ambitious and just action to address climate change, and we are told we need to face political reality. But climate change won’t wait for any politician’s version of reality to catch up with what needs to be done.

Dr. Hansen, you have spoken out time and time again about the need for urgent action, particularly for pushing through when politics break down. Right now, we are a tipping point.

Millions of people around the world are already facing devastating impacts from climate change. And the window to avoid the most catastrophic of predicted impacts is closing. Now, more than ever, we need to heed the science and respond. So we can think of no better time to present you with this award than right now. We hope that it will inspire you to continue your groundbreaking work (because we will need it!) and that in turn we will be inspired to be courageous and unyielding in our efforts to address this global challenge.