Former US Vice-President Al Gore and other campaigners against
climate change lead experts' choices for the 2007 Nobel Peace
Prize, an award once reserved for statesmen, peacemakers and human
If a campaigner against global warming carries off the high
world accolade later this month, it will accentuate a shift to
reward work outside traditional peacekeeping and reinforce the link
between peace and the environment.
The winner, who will take US$1.5 million in prize money, will be
announced in the Norwegian capital on October 12 from a field of
Gore, who raised awareness with his book and Oscar-winning
documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and Canadian Inuit
activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier, who has shed light on how global
warming affects Arctic people, were nominated to share the prize by
two Norwegian parliamentarians.
"I think they are likely winners this year," said Stein
Toennesson, director of Oslo's International Peace Research
Institute (PRIO) and a long-time Nobel Peace Prize watcher.
"It will certainly be tempting to the (Nobel) committee to have
two North Americans - one the activist that personifies the
struggle against climate change, raising awareness, and the other
who represents some of the victims of climate change."
Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Institute of International
Affairs, agreed the award committee could establish the link
between peace and the environment.
"I think the whole issue of climate change and the environment
will come at some point and reflect in the prize," Egeland told
reporters last week.
"There are already climate wars unfolding ... And the worst area
for that is the Sahel belt in Africa."
There has been a shift to reward work away from the realm of
conventional peacemaking and human rights work.
In 2004, Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai won for her
campaign to get women to plant trees across Africa. Last year's
prize went to Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen
Bank for their efforts to lift millions out of poverty through a
system of tiny loans.
Toennesson said others with a chance included former Finnish
president Martti Ahtisaari, a perennial nominee for decades of
peace mediation work, and dissident Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Do
for his pro-democracy efforts.
His shortlist also includes Russian human rights lawyer Lidia
Yusupova, who has fought for victims of war in Chechnya.
The secretive five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee does not
disclose the names of nominees, though some who make nominations go
public with their candidates.
Toennesson said by giving the award to those fighting climate
change, the committee would thrust itself into the public debate
ahead of a key UN climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, in
If Gore is seen as too political, the committee could opt
instead for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -
the scientists who advise the United Nations and produce key
reports on the climate problem, Toennesson said.
To give it a face, the prize could be shared by the IPCC's
Indian chairman Rajendra Pachauri, experts said, though Pachauri
told reporters in London he did not think he stood a chance."
I have a feeling it will go to Al Gore, and I think he deserves
it. He certainly has done a remarkable job of creating awareness on
the subject and has become a crusader," he said.
Watt-Cloutier said she was flattered to be mentioned as a
possible winner but did not expect to win.Toennesson said Ahtisaari
deserves the prize most for helping to bring peace to the Aceh
region of Indonesia in 2005.
(China Daily October 8, 2007)