Sir John Houghton, 1931-2020

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20 April 2020

It is with great sadness that we share news of the death of Sir John Houghton. We would like to extend our sympathies and thoughts to his family, friends and former colleagues.

Sir John was an eminent atmospheric physicist from North Wales who researched and spoke widely about the threat of climate change and championed the urgent need for action. Sir John helped established the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and co-chaired the organisation’s scientific assessment working group from 1988-2002. Sir John’s contribution was recognised in 2007 when the IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former US Vice President Al Gore 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.

As former Director General of the Met Office, Sir John had the foresight to establish the Hadley Centre in 1990, persuading the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of its importance and need. The Centre is now a global partner for climate science and services and often provides briefings to the government to summarise important areas of climate science.

Sir John’s global contribution to the understanding of climate change is enormous and he will be greatly missed.

Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, NERC Executive Chair added: “Sir John was a great figure, a father of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and someone who’s impact on the world will be remembered. I’d like to extend my personal condolences to Sir John’s family – he was an outstanding scientist who played a key role in demonstrating the importance of environmental science to us all.”

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