UN climate change boss Rajendra Pachauri vows to resist pressure to quit

By Andrew Woodcock,Press Association
Friday 05 February 2010 09:37

A high-profile error in an international report on climate change does not undermine the scientific case for man-made global warming, the head of the United Nations' panel on the issue insisted today.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said there remained a "huge volume" of science backing the theory that human activity is to blame for changes in global temperatures.

And Dr Pachauri said he would resist pressure to resign as IPCC chair following reports in the UK press that he had made a fortune from carbon trading thanks to links between The Energy Research Institute (Teri) which he heads and private companies.

The IPCC was last month forced to apologise for an incorrect claim in its 2007 report that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 because of warmer temperatures. A journalist for Science magazine has claimed that Dr Pachauri was informed of the issue last year but took no action ahead of the Copenhagen summit on global warming.

Greenpeace UK director John Sauven today said that the error put Dr Pachauri's position in question.

"Pachauri should have put his hand up and said 'We made a mistake'. It's in these situations that your character and judgment is tested. Do you make the right judgment call? He clearly didn't," Mr Sauven told The Times.

"The IPCC needs to regain credibility. Is that going to happen with Pachauri (as chairman)? I don't think so. We need someone held in high regard who has extremely good judgment and is seen by the global public as someone on their side.

"If we get a new person in with an open mind, prepared to fundamentally review how the IPCC works, we would regain confidence in the organisation."

Speaking at the IPCC's Sustainable Development Summit in Delhi, Dr Pachauri told the BBC: "There is one mistake that occurred, unfortunately, and we have clearly accepted that. We have expressed regret that it took place.

"But there is a huge volume of science, the IPCC report is a massive piece of work, and I think all of what we have said is totally valid.

"The fact is that we have clearly shown that the impacts of climate change, if we don't take action, are going to become progressively serious. It is not only the warming of the Earth's system, it is also disruption in terms of extreme events."

Dr Pachauri said that any money he earnt from advising companies went to Teri, which aims to provide solar power to people without access to electricity.

"Not a single penny goes into my pocket," he said.

And he denied that controversy surrounding his position was distracting from the work of the IPCC.

"I don't think the world is going to be distracted," he said. "I don't think the scientific community is going to be distracted."

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