IIED’s chair to deliver prestigious Christmas Lecture

News, 18 December 2020
On 30 December, IIED chair Dr Tara Shine will give a televised talk about climate change as part of this year’s Christmas Lectures from the Royal Institution.
Three people stand around a large planet Earth globe

Helen Czerski, Chris Jackson and IIED chair Dr Tara Shine, right, have been selected to give this year's annual Royal Institution annual Christmas Lectures (Photo: copyright Paul Wilkinson Photography and John Allen)

IIED chair and environmental scientist Dr Tara Shine will be one of three people to deliver a Christmas Lecture in this year’s prestigious science series by the Royal Institution.

The 2020 theme for the UK’s flagship science lectures is ‘Planet Earth: A user’s guide’. Three expert scientists, from different fields, will reveal their own guide to understanding the planet and teach how to live more sustainably from three different perspectives: earth, oceans and the air.

Dr Shine’s Christmas lecture will be broadcast on BBC Four, at 8pm on Wednesday, 30 December. It will be available to watch for the following 12 months to audiences in the UK and will be available from the Royal Institution website from February 2021.  

Helen Czerski, physicist and oceanographer from University College London, and Chris Jackson, geologist and professor at Imperial College London, will deliver their lectures over the preceding two days. Jackson is the first Black scientist to give a Royal Institution Christmas Lecture.

In her lecture, the IIED chair will address the issue of the Earth’s atmosphere and examine what elements can be found in the air that we breathe to survive. She will look at carbon emissions and the human influence on the atmosphere and its impact on our ecosystems.  

An experienced policy adviser and climate negotiator, Shine has 20 years’ experience working with governments, multilateral agencies and civil society. She is also director and co-founder of Change by Degrees, a social enterprise that delivers sustainability advice.

She was named as chair of IIED’s board of trustees last December, and succeeded former Costa Rica vice-president Rebeca Grynspan in September.

The Christmas Lectures were started in 1825 by one of the world's most influential scientists, Michael Faraday. It was a time when organised education for young people was scarce and established an exciting new way of presenting science. He presented 19 series himself.

Among the world-famous scientists who have given the lectures are Nobel Prize winners William and Lawrence Bragg, Sir David Attenborough, Carl Sagan and Dame Nancy Rothwell.

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