In the struggle against global warming, 15 October 2016 marks a historic date – the closing of the Kigali Agreement on reducing extremely powerful hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) pollutants over the next decades. An amendment to the Montréal Protocol of 1987, the Kigali Agreement was agreed upon by more than 140 nations in order to reduce and ultimately phase out the fastest-growing class of climate-warming chemicals used in refrigerators and air conditioners – arguably the single most important and effective step humanity has taken against climate change. The man who provided the scientific groundwork for this success is atmospheric chemist Guus Velders, Professor of Air Quality and Climate Interactions at Utrecht University and RIVM. Following years of work informing policy and the public on the prominent role HFCs play in the mix of dangerous pollutants, he provided the data that convinced international negotiators in Kigali that the use of HFCs can no longer be sustained. His essential role in the process rightfully earned him a spot in Nature’s Top 10 in 2016 and TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in 2017. At Falling Walls, Guus shows how scientific expertise can be translated into real-world impact and how we may still be able to win the fight against climate change.
Guus Velders, the Professor of ‘Air Quality and Climate Interactions’ at Utrecht University, is an atmospheric scientist who had essential roles in many of the world’s most important policy deals to reduce dangerous pollutants and fight global warming. As world-leading expert in the field of extremely potent greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), he was one of the key figures who provided the scientific basis for the success of the 2016 Paris climate accord and important amendments to earlier climate deals such as the 1987 Montréal protocol. His long-standing dedication to the cause of climate change put him on Nature’s top 10 scientists in 2016 and Time’s 100 most influential people in 2017.