Addressing the students of TERI University, where he serves as the Chancellor, Dr RK Pachauri discussed a variety of issues ranging from the urgent need to move to a sustainable lifestyle to the issue of climate change and the attacks made on him in the recent past.
Dr. Pachauri talked about the relentless abuse of the natural resources by the mankind. He emphasized the need to move to less carbon-intensive lifestyle like switching to public transport and using more energy-efficient appliances. He reminded the students that today's grave situation calls for extraordinary efforts of innovation and application of science and that they must see it as an opportunity to work for a better future.
On Glacier Melting Claim
When ask about the controversial claim goof-up in the IPCC report regarding the melting of the Himalayan glaciers, he termed the incident as a 'stupid mistake' which went unnoticed in the more than thousand page report. He said that the inclusion of a specific date for any event is an exception for the IPCC since it only analyses possible scenarios and presents the results.
However, he did acknowledge the fact that there has been considerable and visible change in the glaciers around the world which will make the problem of water scarcity even worse.
On Climate Skeptics
Pointing to the vested interests of few companies and organizations to refute the science and evidence of climate change, he shared his experiences about the 2009 climate change hearings chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer, among others. He recollected that one of the witnesses (researcher William Happer) had completely refuted the phenomenon of climate change while claiming that the earth's atmosphere could easily take in four times the amount of carbon dioxide currently present. The researcher was from Princeton University which received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Exxon Mobil.
Dr. Pachauri said that he never expected such a widespread attack from the climate skeptics, especially the personal attacks on him. While acknowledging his role as an advisor to various organizations like the Deutsche Bank, he said that his aim was to motivate these organizations to adopt and invest in renewable energy technologies and he is proud of his work. Pointing out that the only source of his income is his salary from The Energy and Resources Institute, he said that all the proceeds from the lectures he delivers worldwide go to TERI, a non-profit research and education institution.
After allegations of disproportionate wealth Dr. Pachauri had hired KPMG, the professional services company, to verify his assets. KPMG recently cleared Dr. Pachauri, and TERI, of any wrongdoing.
KPMG, the professional services company, examined the personal finances of Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, after media suggested late last year that he received money for advising several private sector companies, including Toyota and Credit Suisse. The review found these were all paid to Mr Pachauri’s non-profit organisation TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute), which commissioned KPMG.
On a Climate Treaty
When asked whether he saw any positive development taking place at the COP 16 scheduled for later this year, Dr Pachauri said that there isn't much momentum for the world leaders to push through a climate treaty. However, he did voiced optimism about legally binding agreements on relatively easier issues like the REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation) credits which would eventually become the foundation of a comprehensive climate treaty. He also expressed the possibility of sector-based carbon emission reduction targets like targets for the airline industry or transportation industry.
Dr Pachauri had been facing strong attacks from the media, especially the British dailies, The Times and Telegraph. However, there have been discrepancies in their reporting as well. While admitting that the scientific community had not expected such venomous attacks, he said that the scientists are beginning to reclaim some of the lost ground, mentioning that the scientists at University of East Anglia were cleared of any scientific malpractice.
Dr Pachauri recently announced that he plans to complete his tenure as the Chairman of the IPCC and is taking several steps to ensure no mistakes are repeated in future.