Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has been watching the climate world since 2009. What she sees isn't pretty.

Rajendra Pachauri’s Resignation Letter

The resignation letter of the IPCC chairman is a two-page love letter to himself.

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Rajendra Pachauri resigned as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today. It was a long time coming. As a journalist who has followed his career for the past five years, writing enough to fill a full-length book, my assessment of 74-year-old Pachauri is a harsh one: He has been a non-stop train wreck.

Today, he finally exited the stage. In true Pachauri fashion, his resignation letter is a two-page love letter to himself. You wouldn’t know that recent allegations of sexual assault, stalking, harassment, and uttering threats suggest strongly that he is a longtime sexual predator.

You wouldn’t know that this latest scandal has profoundly undermined the credibility of the IPCC in the run-up to the UN climate summit scheduled for Paris in December.

Instead, Pachauri talks about all the wonderful things that happened during his 13-year reign. He refers to “priceless assets” and “unmatched contributions.” And to the “close friends and colleagues” who urged him to finish his term rather than quit early. (Neglecting to mention the calls for his resignation issued by the Sunday London Times, the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, and the New Scientist over the years.)

Pachauri’s letter talks about his “greatest joy” and his “sublime satisfaction.” And about religion:

For me the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma. [bold added]

Yes, the IPCC – which we’re told to take seriously because it is a scientific body producing scientific reports – has, in fact, been led by an environmentalist on a mission. By someone for whom protecting the planet is a religious calling.

Even here, at the end, Pachauri fails to grasp that science and religion don’t belong in the same sentence; that those on a political mission are unlikely to be upholders of rigorous scientific practice.

What’s missing from this letter is any suggestion of remorse. When a scandal-plagued leader resigns because his alleged misdeeds are nuking his organization’s reputation, that is a mark of failure. He has let everyone down.

Where are his words of apology to the thousands of IPCC-linked scientists whose honour is now eternally tarnished by their association with him?

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In August 2013, after US Secretary of State John Kerry described Pachauri’s leadership of the IPCC as “extraordinary,” I asked the rhetorical question: If that is the case, what would a bad job look like? before listing 17 reasons why Pachauri’s behaviour has been inadequate and inexcusable.

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Donna Laframboise is a Canadian investigative journalist and author of the 2013 book, Into the Dustbin: Rajendra Pachauri, the Climate Report & the Nobel Peace Prize. See Amazon.com, Amazon India, and other Amazon stores.

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