After facing allegations of sexual harassment, Dr Rajendra K Pachauri has stepped down as Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with effect from Tuesday. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) also announced that Dr Pachauri, who is its director general, has proceeded on leave for the time being.
A statement issued by the UN panel said Pachauri had decided to “step down as Chairman of the IPCC effective today”.
In an internal email sent to officials of Teri, Pachauri said he was proceeding on leave “for the time being” in view of the “present circumstances and in the interest of taking an immediate decision for removing any fears of my influencing the due processes being followed within the Institute”.
Dr Pachauri, 74, is one of the world’s top climate change officials. A researcher at his Delhi-based The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) claims the scientist began harassing her soon after she joined the non-profit think-tank in September 2013.
Dr Pachauri has denied the charges; today, he said in a letter to TERI that he was proceeding on leave to ensure the inquiry against him – which includes the questioning of those at his institute – is impartial.
The woman has submitted hundreds of text and WhatsApp messages that she says prove how she was sexually harassed; Mr Pachauri’s lawyers have alleged that his computer and phone were hacked.
The case comes at a time when Dr Pachauri is playing a key role in the run-up to a crucial climate change summit in Paris in December where world leaders are expected to agree a new deal to curb global warming.
He skipped an IPCC event in Nairobi this week.
In 2007, the IPCC was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore for their part in galvanising international action against climate change.
The IPCC will elect a new chair at a session planned for October and Dr Pachauri, who was first elected as the panel’s chair in 2002, will not stand for a third term.