International climate chief voted out

Posted: 25 April 2002

The Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been ousted following a campaign orchestrated by Esso and the Bush administration. Robert Watson - an eminent US scientist who was replaced by engineer and economist Rajenda Pachauri from India following a 57-49 vote by IPCC members on April 19 - had consistently warned governments of the dangers of climate change.

As Chair of the IPCC, Bob Watson was responsible for disseminating information contained in global scientific assessments. The last IPCC report contained stark warnings about human interference with the climate that policy-makers could no longer ignore. This created problems for both Esso and the Bush administration, which have led strong campaigns against international action on global warming. This was highlighted when a memo from Esso(Exxon) to the White House calling for Bob Watson to be opposed was leaked to the media.

The IPCC ballot was secret but it is understood that a number of developing countries also supported Pachauri over Watson. Rich countries have a responsibility to provide funding to improve climate impacts science in the South but have so far not delivered. Bob Watson may have also paid the price for this failure.

Kate Hampton, International Climate Co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth said: "The fossil fuel industry and the US Government will be celebrating their success in kicking out Bob Watson, an experienced scientist who understood that urgent action is needed to tackle global climate change."

"The Bush administration and its friends would rather shoot the messenger than listen to the message. No doubt in years to come - when millions of people around the world are paying the price for climate change - they will be claiming that no-one ever told them the truth."

Source: Friends of the Earth UK.

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