Odisha News Insight

Environmentalist R.K. Pachauri steps down as IPCC Chief

Environmentalist R.K. PachauriEnvironmentalist R.K. Pachauri Tuesday stepped down as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) following charges of sexual harassment. Pachauri has denied the accusation. The bureau of the UN’s IPCC agreed Tuesday to designate Vice-Chair Ismail El Gizouli as acting chair. This follows the decision by Pachauri to step down, a press release said Tuesday.

Confirming the resignation, a spokesperson for Pachauri said in a statement: “Chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri has informed the IPCC that he has resigned from his position effective today (Tuesday).” Pachauri, who is also the director-general of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), is facing a complaint of alleged harassment by a woman research analyst who has also lodged a police case.

Citing several texts, emails, and WhatsApp messages as evidence to prove the claim of sexual harassment, the complainant accused the scientist of harassing her soon after she joined the Delhi-based environment think-tank in September 2013. However, Pachauri’s counsel refuted the accusations saying his client’s computer and phone were “hacked”.

Pachauri’s move to step down from the IPCC assumes great significance at a time when India is being looked up to for leading the global negotiations at UN climate change conference in Paris in December. Paris 2015 will serve as a global platform where world leaders would converge to hammer out a universal framework to roll back carbon emissions after 2020. The new framework would replace the current Kyoto protocol.

Pachauri, as the IPCC chair, was expected to play a prominent role in all the key negotiations in the run up to Paris 2015. However, following the sexual harassment charges, he had already announced last week that he would skip one of the IPCC sessions in Nairobi due to “issues demanding his attention” in India.

In 2007, the IPCC was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with former US vice president Al Gore for their part in galvanizing international action against climate change. Pachauri was elected to the first of two terms as chair of the IPCC in April 2002 and had been scheduled to complete his second term in October, said the IPCC statement. (IANS)

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