5 April 2017

Link between scientifically oriented atmospheric research and policy advice

Guus Velders (RIVM) appointed professor of ‘Air quality and climate interactions’

Guus Velders from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has been appointed as Professor by Special Appointment of ‘Air quality and climate interactions’ at the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU) of Utrecht University. His appointment will constitute a link between the scientifically oriented atmospheric research programme of the Faculty of Science and the societal and policy relevant work of RIVM with respect to air quality and climate change and its associated effects on health and environment.

Guus Velders

Guus Velders is one of the most renowned researchers in his field. For his contribution to the global climate agreement of Kigali he was selected by Nature as one of the ten people in the world who mattered in 2016. In his position as special professor at Utrecht University he will study the interactions between air quality and climate change from the point of view of the physical and chemical processes as well as the policy options and sustainable solutions.

Paramount importance

“The effects of climate change and climate mitigation actions will have a profound impact on society in the coming decades. Understanding the interactions between climate change, air quality and other subjects is of paramount  importance. It is my ambition to understand the interactions and provide scientific insights for political decision-making”, Velders explains.

Montreal Protocol and IPPC report

Velders uses models and measurements to study the effects of scenarios and policies on air quality at national and European level. He also studies the interaction between ozone layer depletion and climate change. Since 1997 Guus Velders has been involved as author in the quadrennial assessment reports of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) concerning the state of the ozone layer in support of the Montreal Protocol. In 2005 he was coordinating lead author of a chapter of an IPCC report on safeguarding the ozone layer and the global climate system.

Protection of ozone layer

As of 2006 Velders has worked with colleagues from the US investigated the role of the Montreal Protocol on climate change. This research has demonstrated that the Montreal Protocol, for the protection of the ozone layer, has had a greater contribution to reducing global warming than the Kyoto climate agreement.

Climate agreement of Kigali

Since 2009, this research focused on the role of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) on climate. These gases are used as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances for refrigeration systems, air conditioners and foams. Velders' research showed that if the demand for HFCs would continue to grow globally, their contribution to the greenhouse effect and thus to climate change would become significant by 2050. This work, and follow-up investigations, have contributed to the foundation of the global climate agreement of Kigali (Rwanda) of October 2016, in which all countries of the world agreed to significantly reduce the use of HFCs in the coming decades.

Guus Velders

Guus Velders studied applied physics at the University of Twente where he obtained his PhD in quantum chemistry. From 1992 to 1993 he worked at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and from 1993 to 2005 and since 2011 at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). In 1999 he worked at the Aeronomy Laboratory (NOAA, USA) and from 2006 to 2010 at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (MNP, PBL).

Plans for Utrecht University

With the planned relocation of RIVM to the campus of Utrecht University, Velders will work on strengthening the interaction between atmospheric research at UU and RIVM. He will constitute a link between the scientifically oriented atmospheric research program of UU and the societal and policy relevant work of RIVM with respect to air quality and climate change and its associated effects on health and environment.

Sustainability and IMAU

The appointment of Guus Velders is a further strengthening of the interdisciplinary research programme Sustainability of Utrecht University. The Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU) plays an important role in the research of Water, Climate and Ecosystems.