Profile: Stephen Schneider

Profile: Stephen Schneider

One of the world’s leading experts on climate change is visiting Australia currently, speaking in Sydney Thursday at the Environment Business Australia event and next week at the International Climate Adaptation Futures Conference on the Gold Coast. In his latest book “Science as a contact sport”, he pulls no punches as he reveals the dramatic story behind the headlines as he chronicles the procrastination and politics since scientists first alerted world leaders to the dangers of climate change.

Stephen Schneider is a Stanford University Professor specialising in climate change science and policy. He is the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, Professor of Biology, Professor (by courtesy) of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and a Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment.

Internationally recognised for research, policy analysis and outreach in climate change, Dr. Schneider focuses on climate change science, integrated assessment of ecological and economic impacts of human-induced climate change, and identifying viable climate policies and technological solutions. He has consulted widely with governments around the world and with United States federal agencies and/or White House staff in the Nixon, Carter, Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, G.W. Bush and Obama administrations.

His latest book ‘Science as a contact sport: Inside the battle to save Earth?s climate’ has been published as a history of the global warming science and policy debate since 1970 and a rebuttal of the claims made by climate change sceptics.

Dr. Schneider received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Plasma Physics from Columbia University in 1971. He studied the role of greenhouse gases and suspended particulate material on climate as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in 1972 and was a member of the scientific staff of NCAR from 1973-1996, where he co-founded the Climate Project.

He was honoured in 1992 with a MacArthur Fellowship for his ability to integrate and interpret the results of global climate research through public lectures, seminars, classroom teaching, environmental assessment committees, media appearances, Congressional testimony, and research collaboration with colleagues. He also received, in 1991, the American Association for the Advancement of Science/ Westinghouse Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology, for furthering public understanding of environmental science and its implications for public policy. He was elected to membership in the US National Academy of Sciences in 2002.

Dr Schneider continues his work as a lead author on IPCC reports and is focusing on assessing key vulnerabilities and risks of climate change and the detection and attribution of climate changes and impacts. In 2007, after decades of work, Dr. Schneider, along with four generations of IPCC authors, received a collective Nobel Peace Prize for their joint efforts in 2007.

Stephen Schneider did a national tour of Australia for Greenhouse 1988 event ,which opened up the public discussion of climate change policy in Australia, and in 2006 spent 6 months as an Adelaide Thinker in Residence, producing his report to the SA government: Climate Change – Risks and Opportunities. The concept of ‘power parks’ was one of his top ten recommendations. 

As Keynote speaker at the Environment Business Australia event on Thursday (24 June) he will help answer some penetrating questions posed by the organisers.

Can Australia exploit sufficient renewable energy source to power most if its economy by 2040 or even 2030? Could it become a ‘clean energy superpower’ exporting low emission energy to Asia? And how feasible is it to think that Australia could value-add to its resources endowment by becoming a regional hub for minerals processing and even supply-chain manufacturing by co-locating energy intensive industry alongside solar thermal, geothermal, marine energy?

Leading experts take us through the opportunities as well as the challenges to scaling up renewable energy technology, building the necessary supply and transmission infrastructure, and harnessing the money to get it all done. They will also examine potential limits to the vision.

Entitled “Power Park Australia”, the afternoon and evening forum will focus on ‘new markets, new industries, new jobs’ forum.

                 Thursday 24 June, Sydney,
Time:                12.30 pm to 8.00 pm
Venue:              Hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, level 10, 201 Sussex Street

Other speakers are:

  • Stewart Taggart, Director, Desertec Australia, on plans to harness solar thermal energy from the Sahara to provide electricity to Europe are big and bold. An introduction to how Australia could harness renewables on an even bigger scale
  • Bertus de Graaf, CEO, Panax – How far off is industrial scale geothermal?
  • Dr Keith Lovegrove, Associate Professor and Head of Solar Thermal Group, ANU; Head of Solar Thermal at IT Power – Australia, India and the future of the race to harness concentrated solar thermal energy at scale
  • Dr Michael Ottaviano, CEO, Carnegie – Multiple application marine energy
  • Albert Goller, CEO, Siemens “Picture the Future: Australia’s Energy”. Planning for a big, smart, fast, reliable grid and overhauling the transmission system to capitalise on new sources of energy
  •  Jonathan Whalley, CEO, Windesal  Local supplies of desalinated water
  • Peter Mansfield, Head of Project and Infrastructure Finance, Investec Bank – Galvanising capital to build Australia’s next competitve edge
  • Andrew Petersen, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers  Clarity, consistency and encouragement needed in the regulatory framework.  

This Environment Business Australia series of events is about the emerging and smart technologies, today’s expertise and tomorrow’s infrastructure, progressive capital and strategic policy ? in short, the BIG ideas, coupled of course with the political will ? that can shape sustainable and long-term prosperity.

Britain, Europe, USA and China are fast-tracking the ‘Green Economy’. Australia is lagging behind. We can only catch up if we harness our strong comparative advantages and develop the strategies necessary to build the transition to ‘new markets, new industries and new jobs’.

ET is now a faster growing sector than IT! The challenges are great, but so are the opportunities in replacing or upgrading outdated infrastructure and systems, and building the next generation of capital stock. While all future capital investment will be evaluated against climate, food, and fuel security issues, it is hardly an impost on society to tackle problems and create sustainable wealth – especially when much of the necessary action comes at no net cost, provides long-term wealth generation and offers co-benefits to the community (like cleaner air, less congested roads, more fertile soils and less tax paid to support overseas interests).

Over the next few months, EBA will roll-out a series of capital city forums and webinars focusing on investing in wealth-generating projects.

These will be followed by a high level international conference in early 2011 showcasing Australia’s best and brightest friends who will tell us that progressive growth towards a Green Economy requires vision and leadership (rather than propping up the historical imperatives of the 19th Century and the free-riders whose profit margin is so opaquely boosted by the unpriced collateral damage of waste, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions).

The objective is to assemble the real visionaries with ‘how to’ expertise to shape the future that Australians want, backed up with exemplar case studies from around the world. Business leaders, scientists, strategists, planners, architects, technology and infrastructure developers, financiers and policy makers have vital roles in galvanising the Green Economy – EBA will be the “catalyst” bringing them together to incubate commercial scale projects.

A ‘solutions clearing house’ will be a permanent web-based ‘Green Bay’ for goods, services, technologies, ideas, case studies – a one stop shop to sell or buy ‘green and smart’.

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