Interview with Nobel Prize Winner Woodrow Clark

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Dr. Woodrow Clark is a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize, along with former Vice President Al Gore, for his work as a co-author and co-editor of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Report.

He was also the first research director for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, establishing the economic and technical basis for renewable energy technologies to be commercialized in developing nations. He currently manages Clark Strategic Partners and consults with the Los Angeles Community College District, helping their campuses become energy independent and carbon neutral.

I caught up with Dr. Clark to talk about renewable energy, energy policy, bicycle lanes and why it all matters.

Q: How did you become involved in co-authoring the report from the UN IPCC that ultimately made you a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize?

A: At the time, I was at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.

I became aware of the work the UN was starting to do in this area, and while I was full-time at Lawrence Livermore labs, I asked if I could participate in the panels. They said I had to do it on my own time and at my own expense, so I did. I found some money and paid for my travel and took time off from work because I thought it was an important topic to pursue.

I was a participant in the panels throughout the ’90’s. As a result, I was asked to be the first research director for one of the areas of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; I was to look at environmentally sound technologies like solar, wind, and others and see how they could be transferred from developed countries to developing countries. I had six co-authors covering things like wind from Denmark and solar from Japan. It was a landmark study.

My involvement with the IPCC went on for about 4 or 5 years, but after a while I changed jobs and went to work in Denmark as a visiting professor and wasn’t able to participate anymore.

Another interesting twist is that I was the co-author on the chapter on economics and finance and the co-editor on the chapter on legal and contract agreements. Those are two areas that I’m very much involved in today. In fact, it’s what I do professionally with the colleges.