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Prof. Joanna Haigh Delivers Inaugural Ronald Ross Lecture on “Climate change: What is Happening and What We Can Do About It” Featured

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On Tuesday, December 17th 2019, The Cyprus Institute organized the Inaugural Lecture of the Ronald Ross Series entitled “Climate change: what is happening and what we can do about it”. The speaker was the distinguished scientist, Prof Joanna Haigh, Former co-Director of the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London. Dr. Vasilis Tsakalos, Director General of the Research and Innovation Foundation (RIF), addressed the event.

The public talk was held at The Cyprus Institute’s premises in Athalassa and was organized within the context of the Ronald Ross Lecture Series, a joint initiative between The Cyprus Institute and The British High Commission in Nicosia, with the aim to bring to Cyprus eminent British scientists who are leaders in their field. The Lecture Series is named after Sir Ronald Ross, the British scientist who received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1902 for his work on the transmission of malaria, following fieldwork in Asia and Cyprus. Distinguished members of the academic, political and diplomatic community attended the public lecture, including Mr. Ian Whitting OBE, British Deputy High Commissioner in Cyprus.

In her talk, Prof Joanna Haigh, focused on the climate change phenomenon, at the scientific evidence for climate change in the context of natural variations and on how increasing concentrations of “greenhouse gases” (GHGs), especially carbon dioxide, create an imbalance in the Earth’s energy budget with impacts on temperature, sea level and weather patterns. She explained how basic physics can be used to construct the computer models which are employed to investigate climate processes and looked at potential future impacts across the world of increasing GHGs.

Prof. Joanna Haigh highlighted what needs to be done to reduce GHG emissions in order for the world to avoid dangerous levels of warming, and where we are heading following the United Nations climate change agreements. “If emissions continue then carbon dioxide needs to be removed from the atmosphere at the same rate as it is put in”, she stated.

In addition, she noted that “some of the actions we need to take against climate change is to proceed with further decarbonisation of electricity and the electrification of transport, limit the agricultural emissions by supporting livestock breeding and produce waste management. We should also embrace the hydrogen economy, using hydrogen for power and heat, as well as the use of heat pumps for our buildings”.

Prof Joanna Haigh CBE FRS is a foremost British expert on Climate Change, former director of the Grantham Centre at Imperial College London, and a member of the Scientific Expert Panel (SEP) of The Cyprus Institute’s Energy, Environment and Water Research Center (EEWRC). Previous to that she was Head of Imperial’s Physics Department.  She has published widely in the area of climate modelling and radiative forcing of climate change; her work on how changes in solar activity influence the climate has been particularly influential.

Download Prof. Haigh's presentation here.