Vale Climate Council co-founder Professor Will Steffen

Professor Will Steffen smiling with blue sky in background
Professor Will Steffen

Tributes are flowing with news of the untimely passing of Climate Council co-founder Professor Will Steffen.

A memorial piece penned by the Climate Council said 76-year-old Steffen was “a brilliant scientist, gifted communicator, and brave climate warrior. He was also kind and generous to a fault”.

“[Steffen] was a world-renowned scientist and one of the most influential thinkers of our time. He pushed boundaries and built on our knowledge by advancing concepts such as the Anthropocene, planetary boundaries and tipping points,” the tribute read.

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“He was a contributing author and reviewer on five IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) assessments and special reports, and many other critical scientific publications. He was a leader of major international science programs, a highly-respected colleague and also a mentor to many around the world. 

“In Australia, Will had an equally profound impact on science and public policy. He knew that he needed to take the science out of the lab and ensure that the general public and policymakers understood it. 

“His clear, powerful communications on extreme weather and science have been critical to changing the national conversation; using his expertise to make the case for urgent climate action over and over to the media, to politicians and board rooms. He also used his knowledge to great effect as an expert witness in a number of court cases that challenged the expansion and development of fossil fuel projects.

“He was sought after by many policy advisory groups to governments, including the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee in 2010, served as the Science Adviser to the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, and was Chair of the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee.

“He was a deeply proud Canberran, and passionate about the climate example the city could set for Australia and the world. He was a founding member of the ACT Climate Change Council and helped to transform the city into a leader on climate action.

“His work in public policy will continue to ripple through Canberra and Australia. The work he has done to build the Climate Council will resonate with us each and every day as we continue to build on his legacy.

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“His dedication, courage, passion, guidance and conviction will stay with us as we continue his work. He will live on in all of us as we use his science and his words to keep making the case for more urgent climate action to safeguard all that is precious to us.

“His passing leaves us with heavy hearts and a profound sense of loss. We offer our deepest, heartfelt condolences to his family, including his wife and daughter, fellow colleagues, friends and everyone who came to know and love him. 

His legacy is profound and will long be remembered.”

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