|Al Gore, in a scene from his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth Photo: Paramount Pictures |
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore, former US Vice President, for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.
The Committee said that indications of changes in the earth’s future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness, and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds. Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth’s resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world’s most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.
The Nobel Committee said that through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades, the IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming.
Thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.
The Committee said that Al Gore has for a long time been one of the world’s leading environmentalist politicians. He became aware at an early stage of the climatic challenges the world is facing. His strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted - documentary: The Inconvenient Truth.
"By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control," the Committee said.
Finfacts Climate Change Reports - lower right-hand column on home page.
Why a Norwegian Nobel Committee?
In its own words...
Alfred Nobel himself never told anybody why he didn't give a Swedish body the task of awarding the Peace Prize. Consequently we can only speculate what, in 1895, made the cosmopolitan Swede decide to give the task of selecting the peace prize committee to the Norwegian Parliament. There have been a number of suggestions: Nobel admired Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, the Norwegian patriot and leading author; the Storting was the first national legislature to vote support for the international peace movement; Nobel may have wanted to distribute the tasks related to the Nobel Prizes within the Swedish-Norwegian union.
Nobel may also have feared that the highly political nature of the Peace Prize would make it a tool in power politics and thereby reduce its significance as an instrument for peace. A prize committee selected by a rather progressive parliament from a small nation on the periphery of Europe, without its own foreign policy and with only a very distant past as autonomous military power, may perhaps have been expected to be more innocent in matters of power politics than would a committee from the most powerful of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden.
In his will Nobel wrote: "It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not."
During the 20th century eight Scandinavians have become Peace Prize laureates. There have been five Swedes and one Dane; only two Norwegian nationals, Christian L. Lange and Fridtjof Nansen, have received the Prize. The geographical distribution of laureates would appear to reveal little or no Norwegian or Scandinavian chauvinism; on this point the Norwegian Nobel Committee may be said to have observed the provisions in Nobel's will. However, the number of Norwegians on the list of laureates is not necessarily a good indicator of the influence of national considerations on committee decisions. From a Norwegian point of view, goodwill from other nations might, especially at the beginning of the century, have been more valuable than having a large number of Norwegian laureates.