Meeting with Dr. Pachauri of the IPCC
December 6, 2010 1 Comment
One highlight of the trip was a Tuesday evening meeting with Dr. R.K. Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As head of the IPCC, Dr. Pachauri has been responsible for building the global scientific consensus about climate change, publishing reports endorsed by every government in the world. He correctly points out that this is the first time in history this process has been tried and successfully accomplished. The IPCC received the Nobel Prize for its work.
In his capacity with the IPCC, Dr. Pachauri has met with many of the most well-known US leaders including Presidents Obama and Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore, and he follows US politics closely. We had a lively discussion about President Obama’s leadership and the recent election. Dr. Pachauri shared observations about many other prominent officials, including the leadership of the UNFCCC.
Dr. Pachauri’s own experiences in the last few years have been challenging, with climate deniers launching attacks on the science in IPCC reports, the IPCC organization, and Dr. Pachauri himself. As has been publicly reported, he even hired lawyers at one point to defend himself against libel charges. Dr. Pachauri links these attacks to corporate interests, unfortunately, opposed to international action on climate change. Unfortunate but not surprising, however, considering that action on climate change will constrain profits of carbon-intensive energy producers and major industrial energy users.
As we think about positive roles that private sector companies can play, we should be emboldened to act in order to show that companies can be part of the solution and not just obstructionist forces. At the same time, there must be continued action by forward-thinking companies within carbon-intensive industries to reduce the political influence of obstructionist peers. The companies 3M, DuPont and PG&E were mentioned in our Tuck side event today as ones playing positive roles, and should do more politically to prevent obstructionist companies from holding up action. This would include speaking up to defend the integrity of organizations like the IPCC and UNFCCC.