Will Steffen

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Will Steffen
Will Steffen 2010.jpg
Alma materUniversity of Florida (PhD, MSc)
University of Missouri (BSc)
Known forAdvocating with Paul Crutzen the concept of the Anthropocene.
Initiating with Johan Rockström the international debate on planetary boundaries
Scientific career
FieldsClimate science
InstitutionsClimate Change Institute at the Australian National University
Climate Council

Will Steffen (born 1947) is an American chemist. He was the executive director of the Australian National University (ANU) Climate Change Institute and a member of the Australian Climate Commission until its dissolution in September 2013.[1] From 1998 to 2004, he was the executive director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, a co-ordinating body of national environmental change organisations based in Stockholm.[2] Steffen is one of the founding Climate Councillors of the Climate Council with whom he frequently co-authors reports and speaks in the media on issues relating to climate change and renewable energy.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Steffen completed a BSc in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Missouri in 1970. The University of Florida awarded him an MSc in 1972 and a PhD in 1975.[4] He is widely published on climate science. His research interests range over climate change and Earth system science issues, with a focus on sustainability. He has written on adapting land use to climate change, bringing human processes into the modelling and analysis of the Earth system, and the history of and future prospects for the relationship between the natural world and humans.[2] Steffen has also been prominent advocating along with Paul Crutzen the concept of the Anthropocene,[5] and initiating along with Johan Rockström an international debate on planetary boundaries and the "safe operating space" for humanity.[6]

Steffen served as science adviser to the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.[2] He has been a member of the advisory board of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and worked with the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council. He was also on an advisory panel in Colorado with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.[4]

Currently, Steffen is on the Science Advisory Committee of the APEC Climate Centre in Korea. He is honorary professor at the Copenhagen University's Department of Geography and Geology and visiting researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre.[4] He is the chair of the Federal Government's Antarctic Science Advisory Committee, and advises the Australian Government in further roles as scientific adviser to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and as expert adviser to the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee.[4] Steffen also sat on the Australian Climate Commission.[7]

In 2011, he was the principal author of a government climate report, The Critical Decade,[8] which advocated a tax should be placed on carbon.[9][10][11]

The Australian Climate Commission was sacked in 2013. Steffen reflects, “I think we were the first definitive action of the Abbott government. They got rid of us and you could probably measure it in hours rather than days.”[12] Steffen, along with other sacked Commissioners such as Prof. Tim Flannery and Prof. Lesley Ann Hughes, and CEO Amanda McKenzie, launched a new independent organisation - the Climate Council - in Australia's largest crowdfunder, raising over $1 million in one week.[13] Steffen remains a Climate Councillor with the Climate Council.[14]

In 2018 he was an author of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C published by the IPCC.[15]

Some recent publications[edit]


  1. ^ Arup, Tom (19 September 2013). "Abbott shuts down Climate Commission". Theage.com.au. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Professor Will Steffen ANU Climate Change Institute. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  3. ^ "Will Steffen, Author".
  4. ^ a b c d Professor Will Steffen Australian Research Council.
  5. ^ Steffen W, Crutzen PJ and J. R. McNeill JR (2007) "The Anthropocene: are humans now overwhelming the great forces of Nature?" AMBIO, 36:614–621.
  6. ^ Rockström, J.; Steffen, W.; Noone, K.; Persson, Å.; Chapin Fs, F. S.; Lambin, E. F.; Lenton, T. M.; Scheffer, M.; Folke, C.; Schellnhuber, H. J.; Nykvist, B. R.; De Wit, C. A.; Hughes, T.; Van Der Leeuw, S.; Rodhe, H.; Sörlin, S.; Snyder, P. K.; Costanza, R.; Svedin, U.; Falkenmark, M.; Karlberg, L.; Corell, R. W.; Fabry, V. J.; Hansen, J.; Walker, B.; Liverman, D.; Richardson, K.; Crutzen, P.; Foley, J. A. (2009). "A safe operating space for humanity". Nature. 461 (7263): 472–475. Bibcode:2009Natur.461..472R. doi:10.1038/461472a. PMID 19779433.
  7. ^ "About the Commission". Climate Commission. 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  8. ^ Climate Commission Secretariat (2013). The Critical Decade: Climate science, risks and responses (PDF-4.56 Mb). Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. ISBN 978-1-921299-50-6. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  9. ^ "We're bit players in a global drama" The Australian, 24 May 2011.
  10. ^ "Looking at the critical climate decade". Stock Journal, 27 May 2011.
  11. ^ CSIRO scientists cited on climate doomsday The Australian, 5 July 2011.
  12. ^ "'You bastards sacked me.' When the climate sceptics arrived". The Sydney Morning Herald. 28 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Climate Council nets $1m in donations". SBS.
  14. ^ "Will Steffen, Author".
  15. ^ IPCC 2018: Chapter 1: Framing and Context. Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C.

External links[edit]