Professor John Holdren Leads Efforts to Confront Global Climate Change

March 4, 2008
Doug Gavel

Harvard Kennedy School Professor John P. Holdren is helping develop concrete policy proposals to inspire governments and inter-governmental organizations to go beyond words and take action on global climate change. Holdren, the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy, directs the Science, Technology, and Public Policy program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, seeking solutions to some of the world’s most challenging environmental problems.

“If we start now, if we start taking serious action in the next 5-to-10 years to change the business-as-usual trajectory into a trajectory that will protect the climate, we have the opportunity to avoid the most difficult, most unmanageable, and in some cases perhaps catastrophic effects of climate change,” Holdren says.

As a member of the United Nations Scientific Expert Group on Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Holdren is helping design innovative approaches to the climate change problem, providing U.N. officials with a blueprint for change. Holdren served as a coordinating lead author for the United Nation’s Foundation report, “Confronting Climate Change,” which outlines specific policy recommendations on an international level.

Other scholars at the Kennedy School are also working on developing a new post-Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the globe, providing both developed and developing countries with the ideas and incentives necessary to achieve sustainable growth.

“We are approaching a political tipping point in the global climate change discussion,” Holdren argues. “And it is critical at this moment that we muster the societal will to take aggressive and decisive action. There is a lot we can do about it, but we must start now.”

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Image of Professor John Holdren.

Professor John Holdren speaking at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum in November 2007.
Photo: Mike Casey

Image of Professor John holdren presenting at the National Commission on Energy Policy.

John Holdren presenting at the National Commission on Energy Policy.