Pachauri accepts Himalayan mistake, but won’t resign


New Delhi: Ruling out his resignation as chief of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) after its goof-up on melting of Himalayan glaciers, Rajendra Pachauri Saturday said that the UN body will exercise more surveillance to ensure such a mistake does not occur again.

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While admitting the mistake for the third time in four days at a press conference here, Pachauri said it did not take away from the IPCC report’s overall conclusion that glaciers in the Himalayas were receding.

“I have no intention of resigning from my position. I was elected by acclamation by all the countries of the world and I have a task, I have got to complete the fifth assessment report and I shall do it and make sure that we come up with a robust report,” Pachauri told reporters here.

The fourth IPCC report in 2007 had said that Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2035.

The fifth report is scheduled in 2013.

Asked about IPCC’s credibility being affected by the blunder, Pachauri said: “I am sure people all over the world, the rational people, see the larger picture and are not going to be distracted by this one error which of course is regrettable. They would continue to repose their faith in the IPCC and I am reasonably sure that there would be no deviation from that reality.”

“I think our credibility if anything should be enhanced that we have accepted it was a mistake and we are going to ensure that in future such a mistake will not occur. We rely on the best scientists from all over the world. I am reasonably sure that it won’t be shaken,” he said.

He reacted sharply to a suggestion that The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) — the think tank he also heads — had benefitted from the alarmist statement that Himalayan glaciers may disappear by 2035.

“TERI is not involved in this mistake,” Pachauri said. When it was pointed out that Syed Iqbal Hasnain, the scientists whose 1999 statement had given rise to the goof-up, was now a “senior fellow” at TERI, Pachauri shot back: “He was in JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) then. He has been a senior fellow here for the last two years.”

Denying any possibility of taking action against anyone, Pachauri said: “Well the authors are not employees of the IPCC. They are merely providing the inputs and we certainly keep in mind the track records of the author when we carry out a selection. We absolutely have no right to take any action against the author.”

Replying to a question on the need to review the IPCC procedure while writing reports, he said: “I think our procedure is very robust and solid. All we need to make sure is that we adhere to implementing these procedures. I can assure you and the rest of the world that we are going to very very particular in ensuring that we don’t slip up in following the IPCC procedures.”

Emphasising the need to carry out research work on glacial melting, he said: “The Himalayas are very important for us and country should make an elaborate plan for monitoring, measurement and evaluation of changes.”

While accepting that the goof-up may have given a boost to climate sceptics, Pachauri said: “Climate sceptics are not looking for a handle. They are looking for anything by which they can demolish the science of climate change. But truth still prevails and world will realise the reality of climate change.”

“There is documentary evidence and in Washington DC alone there are over 1,200 lobbyists being funded to stop anything to do with climate change policy or legislation and they are being funded by 770 companies. This makes four lobbyists for every member of Congress in the US and that’s only the US.”