Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber: The “lighthouse” VinFuture

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– After observing the significant changes in the severity of climate change, what are your thoughts on its impact?

– Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber: Now, the problem we face with climate change is understanding how close we are to catastrophe. In my estimation, we may only have 30 to 40 years left before reaching a critical point. The question then becomes, how much time do we need to make the necessary transformations? If we delay action for another 10 or 20 years, we risk being “paralyzed” in the face of disaster. So, the question remains: what’s our next move?

It is my sincere hope that the 2024 VinFuture Prize, which brings together the top scientists, scientific research, and technology breakthroughs worldwide, will be able to address this “hot” topic and bring about change that will make the world a more sustainable place for future generations.

– As one of the world’s leading experts on responding to climate change, how, in your view, can an award coming from a developing nation like the VinFuture Prize in Vietnam assist in solving this issue?

– Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber: I think it’s fantastic that a rapidly developing country like Vietnam is punching above its weight and making significant contributions in this field. Traditionally, it’s the industrialized countries that have created the problem, and awards and recognition typically go to people from these countries. It’s a cycle that repeats itself. Therefore, it’s extremely important that countries from the Global South are recognized for their solutions and leadership.

On the other hand, it’s precisely the developing world where the battle against climate change will be won or lost. For example, in the European Union, we can develop strategies to maintain growth while reducing emissions. But what about South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America? If they were to reach emission levels similar to the United States, it would be catastrophic for our planet.

For this reason, the VinFuture Prize is a “lighthouse” in this regard. With VinFuture, it’s the first time I’m involved in something based in the Global South, but with such great influence, this is quite significant to me. 

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