South Korean elected head of UN climate panel

Economist succeeds ex-chief who left post after claims he allegedly harassed female researcher at think-tank

PARIS • South Korean economist Lee Hoe Sung has been elected the new head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body responsible for assessing climate science.

Dr Lee, 69, will replace Dr Rajendra Pachauri, who quit in February amid allegations that he sexually harassed a colleague at The Energy and Resources Institute, a New Delhi-based think-tank where he is director-general.

Dr Lee's election comes just before a UN climate summit in Paris in December, which aims to reach a global climate agreement.

He will oversee the next stage of the UN body's work, following the release of its fifth major report on climate change last November. The report warned that, based on current greenhouse gas-emission trends, the world is on track to exceed the UN goal of limiting global warming to 2 deg C by as much as two times, with devastating floods, droughts and a rising sea level the result.


Dr Lee (above), an economist, had worked with Dr Pachauri as vice-chairman of the IPCC, a position he had held since 2008 . PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"The next phase of our work will see us increase our understanding of regional impacts, especially in developing countries, and improve the way we communicate our findings to the public," said Dr Lee, after his election on Tuesday. "Above all, we need to provide more information about the options that exist for preventing and adapting to climate change."


Dr Lee, an economist, had worked with Dr Pachauri (above) as vice-chairman of the IPCC, a position he had held since 2008 . PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He has been a vice-chairman of the IPCC since 2008, and was elected by peers from a shortlist of six.

Dr Lee is currently a professor in the graduate school of energy and environment at Korea University, according to the IPCC's website. He is also a council member for the Global Green Growth Institute and an executive board member at the Korean Academy of Environmental Sciences.

SPREADING THE DATA

The next phase of our work will see us increase our understanding of regional impacts, especially in developing countries, and improve the way we communicate our findings to the public. Above all, we need to provide more information about the options that exist for preventing and adapting to climate change.

DR LEE HOE SUNG, the new chief of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

He is a member of the Asian Development Bank president's advisory board on climate change and has also served on the boards of car giant Hyundai and the Korea Petroleum Development Corporation

The IPCC was set up in 1988 to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impact and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation. It assesses thousands of scientific papers published each year, identifying where scientists agree and disagree.

The IPCC's sixth assessment report is expected to be completed in five to seven years.

Dr Pachauri stood down after a female researcher at his think-tank accused him of sexual harassment through e-mail, text and WhatsApp messages.

The 75-year-old, who had led the IPCC since 2002 and was a leading voice on the dangers of global warming, has denied any wrongdoing but tendered his resignation in February to UN chief Ban Ki Moon.

Dr Pachauri had supervised work on the two most detailed studies of climate change ever completed and had survived a scandal five years ago over exaggerated claims about the speed of glaciers retreating.

He accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the UN panel in 2007 for its work on sharpening climate science.

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2015, with the headline 'South Korean elected head of UN climate panel'. Print Edition | Subscribe