28 January 2010

Science has an extended interview with Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, that is quite revealing. Here are a few interesting excerpts.

Dr. Pachauri clearly indicates that he sees the job of the IPCC to be motivating political action on climate change:
I mean, let's face it, that the whole subject of climate change having become so important is largely driven by the work of the IPCC. If the IPCC wasn't there, why would anyone be worried about climate change? It's also certainly to be expected that there are some interests who would not want to take action against climate change. I mean, I don't want to name a country, but you know during the Copenhagen meeting there was one country that was saying that there should be no agreement simply because the IPCC, after the e-mails, the scandal of the hacking e-mails, the IPCC's report shouldn't be taken as a basis for any agreement. And you know what the motivation behind that statement was and where it was coming from? Are we going to fall prey to vested interests?
On his role as an advisor to companies that stand to benefit from his advice:
I don't see any conflict at all. Science has to be used for decision-making. IPCC's work is supposed to be very clearly policy relevant. How can I establish policy relevance if I shut myself in an ivory tower and say I will not say anything about climate change? I feel totally comfortable in the role of adviser to anybody.
On his freedom from conflicts of interest:
I see absolutely no conflict of interest since I am a salaried employee of TERI and if I provide advice to any organization. You must remember that TERI has been in research on climate change for a quarter century, almost a quarter century, and therefore as a paid employee of this organization, if I am doing work on behalf of TERI and on behalf of the time that I spend over there is something that I am being paid for through a salary, then I see absolutely no conflict of interest. . .

there is no private interest involved in this. This is as much public interest as doing work for the IPCC. I am working for an organization which is a not-for-profit organization, which is not only highly regarded, which abides by all the laws of this country, and it is serving the public interest, it has been set up in public interest. So I can see absolutely nothing which can be mixed up with private interest over here, so I am afraid I should get this absolutely right. There is no private interest involved over here. If I was working for a shareholder company and this was leading to the profits of some individuals, then you could say private interest. We are as much a public-sector organization and an organization working for the public good as any other. So you know there is no conflict of interest.
And then there is this odd ending:

Q: So will the world have a solution to climate change soon thanks to you?

R.K.P.: Well, it's a long haul, it's going to be a tough job, and I took it because it's a tough job and I am doing it because it's a tough job. And somebody has to do it. I have that responsibility: I will do it. And I am certainly not going to relent in these efforts, I can assure you.

Q: Pleasure speaking to you. Thank You.

R.K.P.: I have to hug you! [Gives interviewer a bear hug.]