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Pachauri, IPCC chair resigns as panel overhauls future work

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THE Bureau of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agreed on last week, in accordance with its procedures, to designate Vice-Chair Ismail El Gizouli as Acting IPCC Chair. The designation of El Gizouli follows the decision by Rajendra K Pachauri, PhD, to step down as Chairman of the IPCC.

   Pachauri, 74, is accused of sexually harassing a 29-year old female researcher shortly after she joined the Energy and Resources Institute. Lawyers for the woman, who cannot be named, said the harassment by Pachauri included unwanted emails, text messages and WhatsApp messages.

  Pachauri, has denied the charges and his spokesman said: “[He] is committed to provide all assistance and cooperation to the authorities in their ongoing investigations.” His lawyers claimed in the court documents that his emails, mobile phone and WhatsApp messages were hacked and that criminals accessed his computer and phone to send the messages in an attempt to malign him.

  The decision to name El Gizouli was taken at a Session of the Bureau ahead of the 41st Session of the IPCC, which is being held on February 24-27, 2015.

   “The actions taken will ensure that the IPCC’s mission to assess climate change continues without interruption,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), who facilitated the Bureau meeting. “We look forward to a productive session in Nairobi this week.”

   Elections for a new Bureau, including the IPCC Chair, for the next assessment cycle are already scheduled at the 42nd Session of the IPCC in October 2015.

   Dr 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.

 The Panel considered the recommendations of the Task Group on the Future Work of the IPCC, and took decisions on the size, structure and composition of the IPCC Bureau and any Task Force Bureau.

   This is the first meeting of the IPCC since the IPCC completed the Fifth Assessment Report. It determined how the IPCC works in future, the kind of reports it produces and how it can draw on the contributions of all its members.

   The 41st Session of the Panel  held at the United Nations office in Nairobi, Kenya, was  hosted by UNEP, one of the IPCC’s two sponsoring organizations, together with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the world body for assessing the science related to climate change.    

   Meanwhile, IPCC has taken a series of decisions to make its reports more accessible and involve developing countries more closely in its work. The decisions, following a review of the future work of the IPCC over the past year and a half, pave the way for the IPCC to prepare its next cycle of reports, which will be initiated by elections for a new Bureau and Chair in October 2015.

   “We have taken stock of our future. We have been through a detailed process to examine how to continually improve our work, to make it as relevant and useful as possible, not only for government policymakers but for society at large,” said Acting Chair Ismail El Gizouli.

  Among the moves agreed to this week at its Session in Nairobi, Kenya, the Panel decided to increase the representation of African and Asian countries in the IPCC Bureau by increasing the number of its members to 34 from 31.

     It also decided to continue preparing comprehensive assessment reports every five to seven years, which also cover regional aspects of climate change, taking into account the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in determining its future reports and their timing.

  It agreed that the different parts of an assessment report should be released within about a year, but no more than 18 months, with a staggering between working group contributions to allow information presented by one working group to be adequately reflected in the other working group contributions and the Synthesis Report.

  “I am very pleased with the progress we made this week,” said Renate Christ, Secretary of the IPCC. “The Panel addressed a wide range of issues to enhance the timing and quality of the IPCC’s reports. The IPCC is in good hands and well prepared for the future.”

   The IPCC generally examines its operations and products at the end of an assessment cycle. The latest review, to help determine how the IPCC works in future, the kind of reports it produces and how it can draw on the contributions of all its members, began in October 2013. 

  The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly, to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.   The members of the IPCC, comprising the Panel, are its 195 member governments. They work by

consensus to endorse the reports of the IPCC and set its procedures and budget in plenary meetings of the Panel. 

 



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