Korea’s Hoesung Lee elected as IPCC chair

Hoesung Lee, the new IPCC Chair (PHOTO: EPA)
Hoesung Lee, the new IPCC Chair (PHOTO: EPA)

By Atâyi Babs

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) elected Hoesung Lee of the Republic of Korea as its new Chair on Tuesday.

Hoesung Lee was elected by 78 votes to 56 in a run-off with Jean-Pascal van Ypersele. A total of six candidates including Ogunlade Davidson (Sierra Leone), Hoesung Lee (Republic of Korea), Nebojsa Nakicenovic (Austria and Montenegro), Thomas Stocker (Switzerland), Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (Belgium) were nominated for the position.

The election took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia, where the IPCC is holding its 42nd Session. Elections for other positions on the IPCC Bureau, including the Co-Chairs of the IPCC Working Groups, will take place over 6-8 October.

The election of the new Bureau, which will have 34 members including the Chair, opens the way for work to start on the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, expected to be completed in 5-7 years.

The new IPCC Chair

Lee, aged 69, is professor in the economics of climate change, energy and sustainable development at Korea University’s Graduate School of Energy and Environment in the Republic of Korea. He is currently one of the IPCC’s three vice-chairs.

He succeeds Rajendra Pachauri of India, who resigned from his post this past February after allegations of sexual harassment (which he denied).

“I am honoured and grateful that the Panel has elected me as the IPCC’s new Chair,” said Hoesung Lee. “The IPCC remains deeply committed to providing policymakers with the highest quality scientific assessment of climate change, but we can do more.”

In a statement released earlier this year, Lee wrote that “I  want to  support  what  has  worked,  keep  what  is  needed  and  change  what  needs improvement across IPCC’s mode of operation, its activities and communication of its findings.” He cited needs to “enhance  participation  of  developing  country  experts” in IPCC’s activities, to incorporate  “inputs  from  the  business,  industry  and  finance where  the  messages  from  science  and  policy  communities  are  interpreted and acted upon,” and to “pay special attention to climate change issues associated with job creation, health,  innovation and technology  development, energy  access  and  poverty alleviation.”

Latest IPCC assessment report

The IPCC completed its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in November 2014 and the key findings of the AR5 Synthesis Report are:

* Human influence on the climate system is clear

* The more we disrupt our climate, the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts; and

* We have the means to limit climate change and build a more prosperous, sustainable future.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the world body for assessing the science related to climate change.

The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly, to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

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