UN Climate Chief Faces Conflict of Interest Accusations

by | Dec 23, 2009

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RajendraPachauriRajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and head of India’s Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), has been accused of conflict of interest, for his involvement in fossil fuel, venture capital, alternative energy, research and motor vehicle companies, reports The Australian.

Just days after he attacked global warming skeptics in his keynote address at the Copenhagen climate conference, two British journalists suggested that Pachauri was profiting from his connections and that the climate debate was being run by scientists making money from the carbon credits market, reports The Australian.

Pachauri recently said the world could still cap global warming at lower levels — 1.5 degrees Celsius versus 2 degrees Celsius — and the Group of Eight industrialized nations (G8) need to set firm commitments on reductions by 2020.

The Daily Telegraph questions Pachauri’s connections with TERI, the Tata Energy Research Institute, which was renamed to The Energy and Resources Institute in 2003, stating that Pachauri does not mention that he is funded by Tata on his Web site, reports The Australian.

According to the Telegraph article, TERI was formed in 1974 by India’s largest privately-owned business empire, the Tata Group, with interests in steel, cars, energy, chemicals, telecommunications and insurance companies.

Pachauri became director of TERI in 1981 and director-general in 2001, a title he holds today, although he has been a ranking official in the IPCC since 1997, when he became vice-chairman, according to the Telegraph article, reports the Examiner.com.

The Telegraph article also states that Pachauri has been investing billions of dollars in organizations that depend on IPCC’s policy recommendations, which include banks, oil, and energy companies. In addition, the article notes that Pachauri also holds many posts, as director or advisor to many organizations that play a leading role in the global climate industry.

The issue of potential conflict of interest was brought to the public’s attention last week when two leading climate skeptics handed Pachauri an open letter after a lecture that challenged some scientific findings of IPCC’s 2007 report, and questioned why the report did not declare his personal interest in many organizations set to profit from its findings, reports the Telegraph.

The letter was circulated to all the 192 national conference delegations, calling on them to dismiss Pachauri as IPCC chairman because of his conflicting interests, reports the Telegraph.

In response, Pachauri told the Times of India: “These are a pack of lies from people who are getting desperate. They want to go after the guy whose voice is being heard. I haven’t pocketed a single penny from my association with companies and institutes. All honoraria that I get goes to TERI and to its Light a Billion Lives campaign for reaching solar power to people without electricity. All my dealings are totally above board.”

Pachauri also cited in the article that the previous IPCC chairman was in the World Bank and the one before that was a professor. He was quoted in the article: “Can you then say the university benefited from his association with IPCC? The people who have flung these charges are part of the same vested interest group which hacked the server of UK’s East Anglia University. They are getting desperate because the world is now serious about moving away from fossil fuels. I want to ask them how much money they spent in the operation? Hacking a server is a costly exercise.”

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