The long-time head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (I.P.C.C.) stepped down yesterday amid allegations of sexual harassment filed in his home country, India. Rajendra K. Pachauri was chairman of the panel for 13 years and one of the world’s strongest voices against climate change. But the New York Times reports he tendered his resignation shortly after a woman employed at an institute he heads accused him of unwanted text messages, emails and other contact.

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According to the New York Times, Pachauri’s 29-year-old accuser hasn’t been publicly identified, and Pachauri’s lawyers have said in court findings that his computer and phone were hacked, and the unwanted messages were sent by someone else to make him look bad. Both the local police and an internal complaints committee at the Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi are investigating the matter. The Times notes that the allegations could take years to go through the courts due to India’s sluggish justice system.

In a statement, Pachauri said his resignation was necessary to allow the IPCC to keep doing its work. “The I.P.C.C. needs strong leadership and dedication of time and full attention by the chair in the immediate future, which under the current circumstances I may be unable to provide,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

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The I.P.C.C. is made up of thousands of scientists and experts from around the world, appointed by the U.N. and member governments to review and summarize climate change research. In recent years, warnings about the risks of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions from the I.P.C.C. have been getting increasingly urgent and have helped spur a worldwide effort to curb emissions and bring them under control–though it’s largely been unsuccessful to date.

Vice chairman Ismail El Gizouli will take over from Pachauri in the chairman’s role, which is mostly organizational and ceremonial.

Via New York Times

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