The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a press release yesterday following a four-day meeting in South Korea. This document makes no mention of the fact that, six weeks ago, a damning 113-page review committee report said the IPCC’s chairman has to go.

The review committee, set up by an organization representing science academies around the world, declared explicitly that having a fixed term of six years for the chair would promote “a greater variety of perspectives” and help maintain the organization’s “ongoing vitality.” The report continued:

A 12-year appointment (two terms) is too long for a field as dynamic and contested as climate change.

Recommendation: The term of the IPCC chair should be limited to the timeframe of one assessment.

It doesn’t get much clearer than that. Yet Rajendra Pachauri, who has been the chair for eight years already, isn’t leaving. The press release does not explain why. Indeed, it avoids this matter altogether.

We’re told the IPCC intends to implement some of the review committee’s recommendations – which amounts to picking and choosing from the side dishes on the menu while studiously ignoring the main course. Pachauri is, to use the language of this damning report, “both the leader and the face of the organization.”

He is the person who, when confronted with an erroneous claim regarding the melting of Himalayan glaciers in the IPCC’s latest opus responded with name-calling. Those pointing out the error, he said, were practitioners of “voodoo science.” Nor did he stop there. Such people, he insisted, were arrogant, had questionable motives, and reminded him of “climate change deniers and school boy science.”

Pachauri is also the person who, in a Financial Times interview in February, slandered climate skeptics wholesale. Those of us who criticize the IPCC are, he says, part of a “carefully orchestrated” campaign intended to stall action on global warming. In his words:

They are the same people who deny the link between smoking and cancer. They are people who say that asbestos is as good as talcum powder – and I hope they put it on their faces every day.

While he earns full marks for being colourful, this man wouldn’t last two days as the CEO of a fortune 100 company.

Nevertheless, he remains in charge of an organization that has been described as presiding “like Solomon over key questions of international development, sovereignty and social progress.”


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