TIME has named Professor Guus Velders of RIVM as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Velders was honoured for his work in establishing the basis for the global climate agreement that was signed in October 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda.
Over the past years, working together with American researchers, Velders showed that hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have a major impact on the climate. These compounds are used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and insulation materials.
In Kigali, Rwanda, world leaders agreed to greatly reduce the use of these greenhouse gases in the coming decades. As a result of this preventive agreement, the contribution of HFCs to climate change will remain limited and be reduced to less than 0.1°C in 2100, in comparison to a maximum of 0.5°C without the agreement.
Due to this contribution, Nature, a leading scientific magazine, has already named Velders as one of the 10 most influential scientists in 2016. RIVM Director-General André van der Zande awarded him the RIVM Jenner medal for his breakthrough scientific research. Velders has also just been appointed to the position of Professor of 'Air Quality and Climate Interactions' at Utrecht University.
In the coming years, Guus Velders will be working together with his colleagues to further strengthen the scientific basis behind climate policy. With the help of the data and models of RIVM and Utrecht University, he intends to monitor the Paris climate agreement. This will enable RIVM to assist governments and businesses to comply with the national/international climate targets.
Velders is also researching the effect of climate change and climate measures on air quality and vice versa: he is investigating to what extent particles in the air contribute to air pollution as well as climate change. The insights provided by this research will contribute to better air quality as well as to realising the climate goals.