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UN Climate Panel Elects New Leader

11th October 2015

For the first time in 13 years The UN Climate Panel has elected a new leader. Hoesung Lee, the long serving vice-chair of the Climate Panel (IPCC), will replace Dr. Rajendra Pachauri who was forced to step down amid accusations of sexual harassment by a female employee at his research institute in India.

Mr. Lee is a is a US trained economist and professor who works with 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.

In a statement after the voting, Lee stated: “The IPCC remains deeply committed to providing policymakers with the highest quality scientific assessment of climate change, but we can do more.”

The election of Mr. Lee as the new leader of the panel allows research to begin on its Sixth Assessment Report, which is expected to be finished in five to seven years. The last Assessment Report by the IPCC, AR5, was released in 2014 and revealed some alarming findings, including:

– Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history.

– The continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.

– To provide a two-in-three chance or higher of keeping warming below 2°C will require limiting total CO2emissions since 1870 to about 2900 gigatons. Two thirds of this amount had already been emitted by 2011. However, the remaining fossil carbon reserves (like coal, oil and gas) far exceed this remaining budget. The clear conclusion is that most fossil fuels have to stay in the ground.

– By the end of the 21st century, it is very likely that more than 95% of the ocean area worldwide will experience sea level rise.

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