Companies feel threatened by climate fight: U.N. chief

Thursday, February 4 02:20 pm

Reuters Matthias Williams

Certain countries and companies feel threatened by growing efforts against climate change, the U.N. climate chief said on Thursday, after other officials spoke of a campaign to undermine a consensus on global warming. Skip related content


Yvo de Boer spoke amid a controversy over an incorrect projection on glacial melting by the United Nations climate panel, which drew into focus the panel’s credibility and led to personal attacks on its chief, Rajendra Pachauri.


Pachauri has said he will not resign over a forecast that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035.

“I wish I knew if there is a concerted attack on the scientific community and where it’s coming from,” de Boer told reporters.

“I don’t know if there is a campaign. I know that there are companies and countries that are very seriously concerned that ambitious action to address climate change will harm them economically,” he added.

Pachauri told the Financial Times newspaper on Wednesday that attacks on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and on him were “carefully orchestrated” by climate skeptics and corporate interests.

De Boer said the erroneous projection made in a 2007 report could be used as ammunition by climate skeptics. But he defended Pachauri’s record and said the mistake did not undermine the broad international consensus on climate change.

“Tall trees collect a lot of wind. Dr. Pachauri is a tall tree,” he said, when asked about the attacks on Pachauri.

Flaws in reports by the IPCC can be damaging since the findings are a guide for government policy. The Indian government and some climate researchers have criticized the IPCC for overstating the shrinking of the Himalayan glaciers.

Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh separately said on Thursday the government had set up a homegrown climate change panel, which will submit its first assessment in November.

“It’s something of an Indian IPCC, it’s not a rival to IPCC,” Ramesh told the Indian news channel Times Now. “We can’t depend only on IPCC.”

“We’ve had goof ups on the glaciers, we’ve had goof ups on the Amazon, we’ve had goof ups on the snow peaks, some of the mountains, but the IPCC is a responsible body,” he added.

The controversy erupted after the U.N. Copenhagen summit on climate change in December, which produced only a muted outcome.

More than fifty countries accounting for almost 80 percent of global emissions have since pledged goals to fighting climate change. The next annual U.N. meeting will be in Mexico at the end of the year.

The failure of the U.N. negotiations to achieve a deal despite a deadline set for the end of 2009 after two years of talks launched in Bali, Indonesia, in 2007 has cast doubt on the U.N.’s future role.

Smaller meetings between various country groupings are set to take place in meantime, but De Boer said these would not undermine the U.N.’s ability to orchestrate a meatier agreement.

“It’s not an either/or situation,” he said.


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