The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former US Vice President Al Gore were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, Oct. 12. EU President Barroso called them an "inspiration."
Gore has been a leading environmental activist since leaving office in 2001
Gore and the IPCC were cited "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change," the Norwegian Nobel committee said.
"I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize," Gore said in a statement. "This award is even more meaningful because I have the honor of sharing it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ... whose members have worked tirelessly and selflessly for many years."
Gore called the fight against climate change "planetary emergency" and a "moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Gore and IPCC on their shared honor saying it was a triumph for efforts to fight global warming.
"The dangers of climate change are among humanity's biggest challenges," said Merkel, who has also earned a reputation as green campaigner after convincing the USA at June's G8 summit to commit, in principle, to cutting carbon emissions.
Gore worked to raise public awareness of climate change in the film "An Inconvenient Truth"
"Al Gore has contributed for years like no other to increase global awareness of the need to develop strong, effective strategies against climate changes," she said in a statement on her government Web site.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso congratulated the winners. He said their efforts to raise awareness about man-made climate change had been "an inspiration for politicians and citizens alike."
Barroso also called on all the EU's partners to see the prize as an encouragement to take swifter and more decisive action on climate change.
IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri said the prize should help the fight against global warming.
"I expect this will bring the subject to the fore and will hopefully create greater awareness and a sense of urgency," he said.
"I am just a symbol. It's my organization and the efforts the organization has put in," he said.
Making climate change understandable
The IPCC was founded in 1988 to investigate the risks of global warming. The body was tasked with gathering, assessing and presenting scientific data on climate change in an understandable format.
The IPCC was set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Based in Geneva, the panel has so far published three comprehensive reports on climate change, in 1990, 1995 and 2001. The body does not conduct its own scientific research, but pulls together scientific and technical studies released over the period between reports.
Increasing certainty of change
The IPCC said human activity is clearly related to climate change
The IPCC reports examine the scientific basis for global warming and how changes are affecting the environment and society, as well as offering strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change.
The fundamental conclusions of the researchers have been the same throughout, though the certainty attributed to them has increased: humans are exacerbating the greenhouse effect, are heating up the planet with untold consequences and must make a determined effort to counteract climate change.
Some 2,500 researchers and 450 main authors have worked on the fourth assessment report for the past six years.
The Nobel Prize, worth 10 million kronor ($1.53 million, 1.1 million euros), will be handed over at a ceremony in Oslo on Dec. 10. The prize money will be shared in two equal parts.
Gore said he would donate all of his share of the proceeds to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a bipartisan non-profit organization that works to influence public opinion about the urgent need to solve the climate crisis.