South Korea’s Hoesung Lee was today elected as the new chairperson of the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change, a position vacated by R K Pachauri who served two terms before having to resign earlier this year following allegations of sexual harassment against him.
Hoesung Lee received 78 votes while his nearest rival, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele of Belgium got 56 votes in an election held in Geneva, IPCC’s headquarters. There were six candidates in the fray.
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Hoesung Lee, who was the vice-chair of the IPCC, will lead this scientific body in preparing the sixth assessment report over the next five or six years. The IPCC, a UN-backed body first set up in 1988, comprises a group of several hundred scientists who assess climate change science produced across the globe and draw conclusions from it. The IPCC comes out with comprehensive periodic reports, called the assessment reports, every five or six years.
The fourth assessment report, or AR4, produced in 2007 when Pachauri was at the helm, won the IPCC the Nobel Peace Prize. The AR5 was produced between 2013 and 2014, and is the most comprehensive assessment of climate change science so far.
The assessment reports of the IPCC are the basis on which the international climate change negotiations are being held with the objective of finalising a global climate agreement to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions which are leading to global warming.
Hoesung Lee will only be the fourth person to head this organisation.
“I want to support what has worked, keep what is needed and change what needs improvement across IPCC’s mode of operation, its activities and communication of its findings,” Hoesung Lee said in a statement.
The work on the sixth assessment report is still to begin.
Hoesung Lee said the IPCC may at some time be even called to assess whether actions being taken by different countries are enough to contain the rise of average global temperatures within 2 degree from pre-industrial times, something that IPCC says is a must if catastrophic and irreversible impacts of climate change have to be prevented