Het parallelle universum van Rajendra Pachauri


Rajendra Pachauri is de voorzitter van het VN-klimaatpanel (IPCC). Namens het IPCC mocht hij samen met Al Gore in 2007 de Nobelprijs voor de vrede in ontvangst nemen. Wat de activiteiten van deze laureaten met de vrede hebben te maken, zal wel altijd een raadsel blijven. Maar goed.

Onder de titel, ‘The Fictive World of Rajendra Pachauri’, schreef Tony Thomas in Quadrant Online een uitvoerig en interessant portret van deze flamboyante en gedreven figuur, die de geloofwaardigheid van het IPCC met zijn onbesuisde optreden waarschijnlijk meer schade heeft berokkend dan alle klimaatsceptici bij elkaar en ondanks subtiele hints om af te treden nog steeds aan het pluche kleeft.

Ik pik er een aantal citaten uit:

The 194 countries comprising the IPCC “panel” elected Pachauri chair in 2002. The term of office is the six years or so required to compile an IPCC “assessment report” on the state of climate science, although the panel has discretion to make it two terms. Pachauri’s second term is to 2013-14. Because the IPCC still has no executive director and only an in-house secretariat, the office of chair is influential (to put it mildly).

Pachauri also heads the IPCC’s 31-member “scientific” bureau, on which Sudan is a Working Group vice-chair, with Cuba, Maldives, Madagascar and Iran also represented. Pachauri is the public face of the IPCC, although he is far from full-time (he has about fifty non-IPCC roles). The job is honorary but packs vast prestige.

Pachauri geeft altijd hoog op van de kwaliteit van de wetenschappers die aan het IPCC zijn verbonden.

“The IPCC … mobilises the best experts and scientists from all over the world and we carry out an assessment of climate change based on peer-reviewed literature, so everything that we look at and take into account in our assessments has to carry credibility of peer-reviewed publications, we don’t settle for anything less than that”

Maar die uitspraak bleek niet te kloppen.

Pachauri was wrong, 5587 times wrong, because that’s the number of non-peer-reviewed or “grey-lit” citations in the IPCC’s 2007 assessment report—30 per cent of all citations, as journalist Donna Laframboise discovered.[4] The grey-lit included press releases from Greenpeace and Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), not to mention a “first version of a draft”. The science team even used grey-lit in preference to unwelcome peer-reviewed findings. As George Filippo, a 2002–08 IPCC vice-chair of Group 1 (science), put it in a Climategate e-mail in 2000:

I feel rather uncomfortable about using not only unpublished but also unreviewed material as the backbone of our conclusions (or any conclusions) … I feel that at this point there are very little rules [sic] and almost anything goes.[5]

Mijn trouwe lezers zullen zich nog de golf van verontwaardiging onder broeikasgelovigen herinneren toen bekend werd dat het Amerikaanse Heartland Instituut jaarlijks enkele tienduizenden dollars doneerde aan onder andere het SEPP (Science and Environmental Policy Project) en CO2 Science . Maar dat is kruimelwerk vergeleken met de miljoenen die Pachauri voor zijn TERI bijeen weet te sprokkelen.

In 1981 Pachauri became a director of Tata Energy & Resources Institute (TERI, in 2003 renamed “The” Energy & Resources Institute). TERI was set up by Tata to fund external research. Pachauri’s job was to turn TERI itself into a research institute. He started in a New Delhi guest house, with kitchen and dining room as his office.[7] TERI has grown into a global consultancy with 900 workers and influence over ten-figure investment flows. Clients include BP, Britain’s Department for International Development, and the World Bank.

In the early 1990s, TERI moved into one of Delhi’s most desirable complexes, the India Habitat Centre, an eco-friendly government convention centre on four hectares of parkland.

Pachauri’s family are high-achievers. A brother is a lieutenant-colonel.[14] His father was an educational psychologist with a London PhD. Pachauri is married to Saroj, a medico and PhD who is a Distinguished Scholar with India’s Population Council. He lives in Central Golf Links Road, New Delhi, a top Indian address. Houses equivalent to Pachauri’s are advertised at around $9 million. His co-residents include Britain’s richest man, steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal.[15]

How Pachauri finances his residency in this mansion is none of our business. It certainly isn’t from his salary at TERI—what he calls a “laughable” $45,000, nor at the IPCC (zero). “I have never bothered about money—I come from a family of academics,” he told the Independent.[16] He’s a cricket player and fanatic. His TERI has its additional purpose-built “RETREAT” (an acronym) at Gurgaon near Delhi. The RETREAT includes not one cricket ground but two, dubbed by staff the “Patchy Greens”.[17]

Patchauri’s helpful suggestions to the world include a meat-free day weekly, curtailing iced water in restaurants and imposing severe taxes to deter passenger flights and promote trains.[18] Pachauri himself flew more than 700,000 kilometres in one nineteen-month period as IPCC chair (the equivalent of flying around the world every month), including a flight of 5000 kilometres for a Brookings Institution dinner.[19] During a seminar in New York, he flew to Delhi and back to join a cricket practice session.[20] He has claimed his big travel “footprint” is unavoidable in proselytising global warming.[21]

There were allegations in late 2009, led by the Sunday Telegraph (UK), that Pachauri was misusing his IPCC and TERI positions for personal financial gain, to the tune of millions of dollars.[23] He responded by commissioning a report from KPMG on his own and TERI’s finances from April 2008 to December 2009.[24] This review was not an audit, although he claimed it was a “forensic audit”. It said, “No evidence was found that indicated personal fiduciary benefits accruing to Dr Pachauri from his various advisory roles that would have led to a conflict of interest.” Moreover, his consulting fees had all wound up as income in TERI’s books. The Sunday Telegraph apologised.[25] The KPMG report showed that in the seventeen months, Pachauri earned about $330,000 from his consulting and directing roles with eleven outside bodies, which all went to TERI along with expense reimbursements. Pachauri also held honorary roles with thirty-nine other bodies, yielding only expense reimbursements. This is modest compared, say, with Al Gore’s speaking fee of $130,000.[26]

Pachauri had the bad luck to be computer-selected for a random tax audit for his 2005-06 personal finances. The Indian tax office gave him an all-clear.[27]

Pachauri is een gedreven man en een ‘workaholic’.

The IPCC chair is a driven man (no pun intended). A work day can be 6 a.m. to midnight. At an IPCC meeting in November 2007, he negotiated without sleep for forty hours and successfully threatened that if delegates didn’t agree, he would go sleepless for a further forty hours.[28]

He has made no pretence at objectivity as IPCC chair, referring derisively to AGW “deniers” and “denialists” and writing enthusiastic forewords to two Greenpeace publications.[29] As early as 2009, he was outlining the thrust of the Fifth Assessment Report, which will not be delivered until 2014: “When the IPCC’s fifth assessment comes out in 2013 or 2014, there will be a major revival of interest in action that has to be taken. People are going to say, ‘My God, we are going to have to take action much faster than we had planned.’”[30]

But things are not going according to his script. In November 2011, a one-off IPCC report confessed that for the next twenty to thirty years, carbon dioxide emissions would have so little influence on extreme weather events that natural variability would be dominant.[31]

Na Himalayagate en de onthulling van andere fouten in de IPCC-rapporten kreeg de reputatie van Pachauri een behoorlijke deuk.

Pachauri’s standing as chair has degraded in the past two years. Principally, there was the melting-glacier gaffe, and rapid exposure of other serious errors in the fourth Report. A chastened Pachauri in March 2010 had to call in the Inter-Academy Council (IAC), a world peak-of-peak science body, to report on necessary IPCC reforms. The IAC in August 2010 recommended in four places, but in vain, that IPCC chairs serve only one term: “A 12-year appointment (two terms) is too long for a field as dynamic and contested as climate change.”[32] Pachauri is in his second term to 2013, although senior IPCC members, including a German co-chair of a Working Group, have put him on notice to shape up.[33] The IPCC panel at Abu Dhabi last May (2011) agreed about the “one-term limit” but said it could make exceptions, and anyway the one-term limit would only apply post-2013.

In October 2011 the investigative journalist Donna Laframboise published her “Delinquent Teenager” expose of the IPCC’s reliance on grey-lit and its wholesale infiltration by Greenpeace-style activist authors. Other tidbits included documentation about graduate students and sub-PhDs mysteriously doubling as “world-leading” scientists to become IPCC authors, lead authors and even top-rung “co-ordinating lead authors”.

She also revealed how quality-assurance rules supposedly binding on IPCC writers and reviewers were routinely flouted. Within weeks Professor Ross McKitrick, a prominent sceptic, issued his own documentation of why the IPCC should either shape up or be replaced by a non-political scientific body.[36]

Vooral de rel over de Himalaya gletsjers die rond 2035 zouden zijn verdwenen, heeft veel kwaad bloed gezet.

Pachauri’s nadir was in January 2010 when he had to issue to the world the Himalayan-glacier correction. He failed to “man up”, with the statement coming not from the chair, but from the chair plus nearly a dozen vice-chairs and co-chairs.[37] The gaffe about the Himalayan glaciers melting away by 2035 is far worse than Joe Public realises. Rather than traverse the universe of IPCC failings, for which Pachauri as chair is procedurally accountable, I’ll focus on just this Himalaya episode. In late 2009, the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests issued a sixty-page discussion paper by glacier expert Vijay Raina, who had a track record of forty years of glacier fieldwork and research. He concluded that the glaciers were not retreating abnormally, neither through global warming nor anything else.

On November 9, 2009, New Delhi Television brought Pachauri on to its evening news to defend the IPCC report.[38]

Q: Are you questioning this report’s credibility completely?

Pachauri: I am questioning this evidence. They are totally wrong. This is one government report. The IPCC uses thousands of scientists and uses peer-reviewed literature … [Raina’s report] is, if I may say so, voodoo science, this is not science. …

In fact the IPCC’s Himalaya forecast was based on nothing more than speculation by an Indian scientist, Syed Hasnain, in an Indian eco-magazine in April 1999, recycled into the New Scientist and then into a report in 2005 by the activist group WWF. The grey-lit WWF report was then cited in the IPCC’s draft glacier chapter in 2007. (By February 2010 Pachauri was back-pedalling on his previous claims about use solely of peer-reviewed material, saying it was “perfectly valid” to use grey-lit provided the grey-lit was carefully scrutinised and authenticated, and caveats noted.[39] Incidentally, IPCC guidelines mandated that grey-lit be specifically flagged as such, but this requirement was ignored in all but six instances out of the 5587 IPCC grey-lit citations that Laframboise found, and the IPCC has since dropped the “flagging” rule.)

Het was niet alleen een wetenschappelijke blunder, maar het gebeurde wierp ook een bedenkelijk licht op de fondsenwerving van TERI, c.q. de belangenverstrengeling van Pachauri.

A year after the 2007 report, Pachauri, wearing his TERI hat, recruited Syed Hasnain, the source of the 2035 nonsense, to run a new glacier team in TERI, where Hasnain is now a Professor and Distinguished Fellow.[44] In May 2009 TERI obtained a major share of a $3.9 million European Union grant for Himalayan glacier study, based on the IPCC’s prediction. In January 2010, after the melt hit the fan, the Eurocrats rationalised, in Yes, Minister mode: “Not all glaciers are about to disappear, but their recession is real.” Hence the project is studying a threat due to emerge several centuries hence.[45]

Gaffes notwithstanding, Pachauri is too committed to his “cause” to step down. It’s worth asking, what precisely is this “cause”? In a 5000-word interview with Nature he said it was not the global warming threat but something more important.[51] “I am not going to rest easy until I have articulated in every possible forum the need to bring about major structural changes in economic growth and development. That’s the real issue. Climate change is just a part of it” [emphasis added]. The “major structural changes” he wants involve transferring wealth from the West to developing countries—such as India—leading to a convergence of living standards. The West thereby pays for its past sins of emission. Climate Professor Fred Singer waspishly describes this as shifting money “from the poor in rich countries to the rich in poor ones”.[52]

The key instrument for the wealth transfer is the UN’s Kyoto-designed “Clean Development Mechanism” (CDM). Through this, the West pays to invest in low-emission ventures in the developing world, a process which is usually cheaper than the West cutting its own emissions. India is getting a big share of this investment, with 1400-plus carbon credit projects worth $33 billion approved or under way.[53] Pachauri’s TERI is heavily involved, directly and through TERI executives’ close links and roles with the Indian government’s strategic energy planning. Pachauri’s view is that India, the world’s fifth-biggest emitter, need not itself abate its emissions in its catch-up phase, but should aim merely for reduced carbon-intensity per unit of output.[54]

Lees verder hier.

Kortom, volgens Pachauri is de vermindering van de CO2-uitstoot slechts een onderdeel van een aanmerkelijk bredere agenda, waarbij de internationale verhoudingen op de schop moeten. Het IPCC is dienstbaar aan die achterliggende doelstelling. Dat betekent dat het uit het oogpunt van wetenschappelijke objectiviteit waarschijnlijk nooit meer goed zal komen met het VN-klimaatpanel.

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