Embattled UN climate scientist Dr. Rajendra Pachauri will remain in his current capacity as Chairman of the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation’s Board of Trustees until further notice, according to the local office yesterday.
This is even after revelations recently came to light that Dr. Pachauri was named as the principal in a sex scandal involving one of his female employees, reminiscent of the sexual scandal that brought down the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn four years ago.
Pachauri has already resigned as head of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and has gone on leave “for the time being” from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in Delhi where the incidents allegedly occurred. Immediately after stepping down, the IPCC designated vice-chairman Ismail El Gizouli as their acting chair until elections slated for October determines a new chairman.
However, when this publication contacted the local office and spoke to the Chief Executive Officer of the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation, Dane Gobin, he stated that no decision has been taken as yet as to whether Dr. Pachuari will be removed from his position as Chairman of the Board. So far, the scientist has not communicated to them any intention of resigning from his position, in light of the scandal he is embroiled in.
Pachauri, 74, is being accused of sexually harassing a 29-year-old researcher over a two-year period. According to the woman, the harassment started shortly after she joined TERI and included sexual harassment, stalking and criminal intimidation.
Pachauri has since denied the claims, and in response has claimed in court documents that his emails, mobile phone and WhatsApp messages were hacked by criminals seeking to malign him by harassing the plaintiff.
He nevertheless took precautions to approach the Delhi court, seeking bail in anticipation that during the inevitable investigation the police might have taken him into custody, after the research analyst filed a complaint with the local police alleging the harassment. Pachauri was subsequently granted a stay of arrest until February 23, when it was withdrawn.
The victim has expressed fears that due to Dr. Pachauri’s international profile, he could possibly destroy the evidence and get away scot free.
Dr. Pachauri had chaired the IPCC since 2002 and during his stint it has taken the lead in scientific assessment of the causes and risks of climate change. Its reports are written by thousands of scientists and approved by the IPCC’s 195 member nations.
Pachauri was re-elected unopposed by the member nations of the IPCC in 2008, but the upcoming election in October will see a number of scientists throwing their hats in the ring. Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, from Belgium, Prof. Chris Field from the US and Prof. Thomas Stocker from Switzerland have all declared their candidacy.
Iwokrama was established in 1996 and dedicated as a place for research “to develop, demonstrate and make available to Guyana and the international community systems, methods and techniques for the sustainable management and utilization of multiple resources of the tropical forest and the conservation of biological diversity”. The Iwokrama rainforest is located in the geological heart of Guyana. It is made up of 371,000 hectares of forest (1.6% of Guyana’s landmass and 2% of Guyana forests).
In February 2012, former President Bharrat Jagdeo received an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from Dr. Pachauri, who acted in his capacity as chancellor of TERI University.
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