UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet

Lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, UN report says

Felicity Carus

Wednesday 2 June 2010

A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said today.

As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management.

It says: “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead author of the report, said: “Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels.”

The recommendation follows advice last year that a vegetarian diet was better for the planet from Lord Nicholas Stern, former adviser to the Labour government on the economics of climate change. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has also urged people to observe one meat-free day a week to curb carbon emissions.

The panel of experts ranked products, resources, economic activities and transport according to their environmental impacts. Agriculture was on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth, they said.

Ernst von Weizsaecker, an environmental scientist who co-chaired the panel, said: “Rising affluence is triggering a shift in diets towards meat and dairy products – livestock now consumes much of the world’s crops and by inference a great deal of freshwater, fertilisers and pesticides.”

Both energy and agriculture need to be “decoupled” from economic growth because environmental impacts rise roughly 80% with a doubling of income, the report found.

Achim Steiner, the UN under-secretary general and executive director of the UNEP, said: “Decoupling growth from environmental degradation is the number one challenge facing governments in a world of rising numbers of people, rising incomes, rising consumption demands and the persistent challenge of poverty alleviation.”

The panel, which drew on numerous studies including the Millennium ecosystem assessment, cites the following pressures on the environment as priorities for governments around the world: climate change, habitat change, wasteful use of nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilisers, over-exploitation of fisheries, forests and other resources, invasive species, unsafe drinking water and sanitation, lead exposure, urban air pollution and occupational exposure to particulate matter.

Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, says the report, which has been launched to coincide with UN World Environment day on Saturday.

Last year the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said that food production would have to increase globally by 70% by 2050 to feed the world’s surging population. The panel says that efficiency gains in agriculture will be overwhelmed by the expected population growth.

Prof Hertwich, who is also the director of the industrial ecology programme at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said that developing countries – where much of this population growth will take place – must not follow the western world’s pattern of increasing consumption: “Developing countries should not follow our model. But it’s up to us to develop the technologies in, say, renewable energy or irrigation methods.”

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[VIDEO] Allan Gregg in conversation with Chris Hedges – author of “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy”

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle was published in July 2009. An exposition of Hedges’s socialist[9] opinions, Empire of Illusion is heavily influenced by Marxist Critical theory: Hedges repeatedly references the ideas of Theodor Adorno and Karl Polanyi, and also refers to Karl Marx’s concepts of “superstructure” and an inevitable collapse of capitalism.

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books (July 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568584377
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568584379

“Remarkable, bracing and highly moral, Empire of Illusion is Hedges’ lament for his nation.”
— Maclean’s

“Each chapter of Empire of Illusion makes a strong case for how different illusions — of literacy, love, wisdom, happiness — taken together are destroying the American mind, culture and the nation itself.”
— National Post

“Each chapter torches one of our cultural illusions.”
— The Globe and Mail

“Hedges is a fan of big ideas, and in Empire of Illusion, he draws upon the culture of professional wrestling and pornography, the elite university, positive psychology and the financial crisis to fashion a social theory of everything.”
— Winnipeg Free Press

From the publisher:

“Pulitzer prize–winner Chris Hedges charts the dramatic and disturbing rise of a post-literate society that craves fantasy, ecstasy and illusion.
Chris Hedges argues that we now live in two societies: One, the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world, that can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other, a growing majority, is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic. In this “other society,” serious film and theatre, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins.
In the tradition of Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism and Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Hedges navigates this culture — attending WWF contests as well as Ivy League graduation ceremonies — exposing an age of terrifying decline and heightened self-delusion.”

Christopher Lynn Hedges (born September 18, 1956 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont) is an American journalist, author, and war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies.[1] His most recent book, which he discussed on CSPAN’s Booktv [2], is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009).[3]Hedges is also known as the best-selling author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. A quote from the book was used as the opening title quotation in the critically-acclaimed and Academy Award-winning 2009 film, The Hurt Locker. The quote reads: “The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”[4][5][6]

Chris Hedges is currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City.[7] He spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than fifty countries, and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News, and The New York Times, where he was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years.[1]

In 2002, Hedges was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism. He also received in 2002 the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University and Princeton University. He currently writes a column for Truthdig and is married to actress Eunice Wong. They have one son together and Hedges has two children from a previous marriage.

Biography

Christopher Lynn Hedges was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, the son of a Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Thomas Hedges. He grew up in upstate New York, graduated from the Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Connecticut in 1975 and attended Colgate University where he received a B.A. in English Literature. He later obtained a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, where he studied under James Luther Adams. He was awarded an honorary doctorate, along with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in May 2009 from the Unitarian Universalist seminary, Starr King School for the Ministry, in Berkeley, California.[3]

In 1983, Hedges began his career reporting on the conflict in El Salvador. Following six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic and then went to Jerusalem and later Cairo. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the Middle East Bureau Chief for The New York Times. During the first Gulf War he was taken prisoner by the Iraqi Republican Guard while covering the Shiite uprising in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. He was released after a week to the International Committee of the Red Cross. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia followed by the war in Kosovo. Later, he joined the investigative team of The New York Times, based in Paris, and covered terrorism.

He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University during the academic year of 1998-1999 where he studied classics. In addition to English, he speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and knows Latin and ancient Greek. He has written for numerous publications including The Nation, Foreign Affairs, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Granta, Mother Jones, New Humanist and Robert Scheer’s web magazine Truthdig where he publishes a column every Monday.

Hedges, an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, was also an early and vocal critic of the Iraq War. He questioned the rationale for war by the Bush administration and was critical of the early press coverage, calling it “shameful cheerleading”. In May 2003, Hedges delivered a commencement address at Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois, saying:

“We are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige and power and security.”

Several hundred members of the audience booed and jeered his talk, although some applauded. Hedges’ microphone was cut twice and two young men rushed the stage to try to prevent him from speaking. Hedges had to cut short his address and was escorted off campus by security officials before the ceremony was over. An editorial in The Wall Street Journal denounced Hedges for his anti-war stance on May 24. His employer, The New York Times, criticized his statements and issued him a written reprimand for “public remarks that could undermine public trust in the paper’s impartiality.” Hedges, refusing to accept these restrictions, left The New York Times to become a senior fellow at The Nation Institute, write books and teach.

Hedges has stated that he is not a pacifist and supports humanitarian interventions, such as those in Bosnia and Kosovo, designed to stop campaigns of genocide. He nevertheless describes war as “the most potent narcotic invented by humankind.”

Hedges states that his outlook is influenced by moral writers and ethicists such as George Orwell, Samuel Johnson, Karl Popper, Hannah Arendt, Elias Canetti and theologians such as William Stringfellow, Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Abraham Heschel, and Reinhold Niebuhr.

In December 29, 2008 column for Truthdig, Hedges identified himself as a “socialist” in contrast to what he sees as “ruthless totalitarian capitalism.”[8]

Books:

War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002)

Hedges’ bestselling War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (ISBN 1586480499) draws on his experiences in various conflicts to describe the patterns and behavior of nations and individuals in wartime. The book was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

“War and conflict have marked most of my adult life. I began covering insurgencies in El Salvador, where I spent five years, then went on to Guatemala and Nicaragua and Colombia, through the first intifada in the West Bank and Gaza, the civil war in the Sudan and Yemen, the uprisings in Algeria and the Punjab, the fall of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, the Gulf War, the Kurdish rebellion in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq, the war in Bosnia, and finally Kosovo. I have been in ambushes on desolate stretches of Central American roads, shot at in the marshes of southern Iraq, imprisoned in the Sudan, beaten by Saudi military police, deported from Libya and Iran, captured and held for a week by the Iraqi Republican Guard during the Shiite rebellion following the Gulf War, strafed by Russian MIG-21s in Bosnia, fired upon by Serb snipers, and shelled for days in Sarajevo with deafening rounds of heavy artillery that threw out thousands of deadly bits of iron fragments. I have seen too much of violent death. I have tasted too much of my own fear. I have painful memories that lie buried and untouched most of the time. It is never easy when they surface.”[5][6]

What Every Person Should Know About War (2003)

Hedges is also the author of What Every Person Should Know About War (ISBN 1417721049), a book he worked on with several combat veterans.

From the publisher:

“Chris Hedges offers a critical — and fascinating — lesson in the dangerous realities of our age: a stark look at the effects of war on combatants. Utterly lacking in rhetoric or dogma, this manual relies instead on bare fact, frank description, and a spare question-and-answer format. Hedges allows U.S. military documentation of the brutalizing physical and psychological consequences of a combat to speak for itself.”

Losing Moses on the Freeway (2005)

Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America (ISBN 0743255135) was published in June 2005. The book was inspired by the Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski and his ten-part film series The Decalogue. Hedges wrote about lives, including his own, which had been consumed by one of the violations or issues raised by a commandment.

American Fascists (2007)

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (ISBN 0743284437) was published in January 2007. In this book, Hedges argues that the Christian fundamentalist movement emerging today in the United States resembles the early fascist movements in Italy and Germany at the beginning of the last century, and therefore constitutes a gathering threat to American democracy.

I Don’t Believe in Atheists (2008)

I Don’t Believe in Atheists (ISBN 141656795X), published in March 2008, is a critique of what Hedges perceives as a radical mindset that rages against religion and faith. Hedges states the book was motivated by debates he had with atheist authors Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens whom Hedges feels excessively demonize religion, particularly Islam, in ways that Hedges believed were eerily similar to the thinking of Christian fundamentalists. The 2009 paperback edition (1416570780) was retitled When Atheism Becomes Religion: America’s New Fundamentalists.

Collateral Damage (2008)

Collateral Damage: America’s War Against Iraqi Civilians (ISBN 1568583737), with Laila Al-Arian.

From the publisher:

“In this devastating exposé of a military occupation gone awry, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Chris Hedges and journalist Laila Al-Arian reveal the terrifying reality of daily civilian life in Iraq at the hands of U.S. troops. Based on hundreds of hours of interviews with combat veterans, Collateral Damage represents the largest number of named eyewitnesses from within the U.S. military to have testified on the record. These veterans, many of whom have come to oppose the war, explain the tactics and operations that have turned many Iraqis against the U.S. military….”The soldiers and Marines interviewed in Collateral Damage describe the venality of a war fought largely out of view of journalists and television cameras. A stark and unflinching narrative, [it] exposes the true consequences of the war that the American government has unleashed in Iraq.

Empire of Illusion (2009)

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (ISBN 9781568584379) was published in July 2009. An exposition of Hedges’s socialist[9] opinions, Empire of Illusion is heavily influenced by Marxist Critical theory: Hedges repeatedly references the ideas of Theodor Adorno and Karl Polanyi, and also refers to Karl Marx’s concepts of “superstructure” and an inevitable collapse of capitalism.

From the publisher:

“Pulitzer prize–winner Chris Hedges charts the dramatic and disturbing rise of a post-literate society that craves fantasy, ecstasy and illusion.Chris Hedges argues that we now live in two societies: One, the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world, that can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other, a growing majority, is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic. In this “other society,” serious film and theatre, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins.In the tradition of Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism and Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Hedges navigates this culture — attending WWF contests as well as Ivy League graduation ceremonies — exposing an age of terrifying decline and heightened self-delusion.”


“Canadian” + “Environmentally-Concious” is an oxymoron.

How can a people who live in a climate that for the greater part of the year is sub-zero, worry about where their food comes from? Why not MOVE to where the food originates and the people do not require the heating of every artificial environment in which they work/play/sleep/go to the washroom?
I was born in Canada and find this all ridiculous. We live where NATURE has dictated we ought not. We burn fossil fuels (for electricity as well) just so we do not freeze to death EVERY year.
The greatest travesty in this whole debate is that there even ARE human beings living above the 40th parallel.

Nature dictated that humanity live where they can live naked—this is actually WHERE the food just falls off trees and grows in abundance.
Question more than what the enviro-bandwagon is speaking of just this week.
To be a Canadian itself is against nature. Go figure that one out. The greatest civilizations in history evolved in areas such as the Central Valley and Yucatan of Mexico, the Indus Valley, the Yangtze Valley, Coastal Ghana, the Amazon River… [as well as the commonly referenced Mediterranean ones] for a REASON.

Power for U.S. From Russia’s Old Nuclear Weapons

The New York Times 

November 10, 2009

Vladimir Mashatin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Nuclear missiles prepared for destruction at a base near the city of Nizhny Novgorod in Russia. Utilities have been loath to publicize the Russian bomb supply line for fear of spooking consumers.

MOSCOW — What’s powering your home appliances?

For about 10 percent of electricity in the United States, it’s fuel from dismantled nuclear bombs, including Russian ones.

“It’s a great, easy source” of fuel, said Marina V. Alekseyenkova, an analyst at Renaissance Capital and an expert in the Russian nuclear industry that has profited from the arrangement since the end of the cold war.

But if more diluted weapons-grade uranium isn’t secured soon, the pipeline could run dry, with ramifications for consumers, as well as some American utilities and their Russian suppliers.

Already nervous about a supply gap, utilities operating America’s 104 nuclear reactors are paying as much attention to President Obama’s efforts to conclude a new arms treaty as the Nobel Peace Prize committee did.

In the last two decades, nuclear disarmament has become an integral part of the electricity industry, little known to most Americans.

Salvaged bomb material now generates about 10 percent of electricity in the United States — by comparison, hydropower generates about 6 percent and solar, biomass, wind and geothermal together account for 3 percent.

Utilities have been loath to publicize the Russian bomb supply line for fear of spooking consumers: the fuel from missiles that may have once been aimed at your home may now be lighting it.

But at times, recycled Soviet bomb cores have made up the majority of the American market for low-enriched uranium fuel. Today, former bomb material from Russia accounts for 45 percent of the fuel in American nuclear reactors, while another 5 percent comes from American bombs, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade association in Washington.

Treaties at the end of the cold war led to the decommissioning of thousands of warheads. Their energy-rich cores are converted into civilian reactor fuel.

In the United States, the agreements are portrayed as nonproliferation treaties — intended to prevent loose nukes in Russia.

In Russia, where the government argues that fissile materials are impenetrably secure already, the arms agreements are portrayed as a way to make it harder for the United States to reverse disarmament.

The program for dismantling and diluting the fuel cores of decommissioned Russian warheads — known informally as Megatons to Megawatts — is set to expire in 2013, just as the industry is trying to sell it forcefully as an alternative to coal-powered energy plants, which emit greenhouse gases.

Finding a substitute is a concern for utilities today because nuclear plants buy fuel three to five years in advance.

One potential new source is warheads that would become superfluous if the United States and Russia agree to new cuts under negotiations to renew the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires on Dec. 5.

Such negotiations revolve around the number of deployed weapons and delivery vehicles. There is no requirement in the treaty that bomb cores be destroyed. That is negotiated separately.

For the industry, that means that now, as in the past, there will be no direct correlation between the number of warheads decommissioned and the quantity of highly enriched uranium or plutonium, also used in weapons, that the two countries declare surplus.

(This summer, Mr. Obama and President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia agreed to a new limit on delivery vehicles of 500 to 1,100 and a limit on deployed warheads as low as 1,500. The United States now has about 2,200 nuclear warheads and the Russians 2,800.)

Mr. Medvedev has reaffirmed Russia’s commitment to a 2000 agreement to dispose of plutonium, and both countries plan to convert that into reactor fuel as well.

An American diplomat and an official with a federal nuclear agency in Washington have confirmed, separately, that the two countries are quietly negotiating another agreement to continue diluting Russia’s highly enriched uranium after the expiration of Megatons to Megawatts, using some or all of the material from warheads likely to be taken out of the arsenals.

The government officials were not authorized to publicly discuss these efforts.

This possible successor deal to Megatons to Megawatts is known in the industry as HEU-2, for a High Enriched Uranium-2, and companies are rooting for it, according to Jeff Combs, president and owner of Ux Consulting, a company tracking uranium fuel pricing.

“You can look at it like a couple of very large uranium mines,” he said of the fissile material that would result from the program.

American reactors would not shut down without a deal; utilities could turn to commercial imports, which would most likely be much more expensive.

Enriching raw uranium is more expensive than converting highly enriched uranium to fuel grade.

To make fuel for electricity-generating reactors, uranium is enriched to less than 5 percent of the isotope U-235. To make weapons, it is enriched to about 90 percent U-235.

The United States Enrichment Corporation, a private company spun off from the Department of Energy in the 1990s, is the treaty-designated agent on the Russian imports. It, in turn, sells the fuel to utilities at prevailing market prices, an arrangement that at times has angered the Russians.

Since Megatons to Megawatts has existed, American utilities operating nuclear power plants, like Pacific Gas & Electric or Constellation Energy, have benefited as the abundance of fuel that came onto the market drastically reduced overall prices and created savings that were ultimately passed along to consumers and shareholders.

Nuclear industry giants like Areva, the French company; the United States Enrichment Corporation and Nuclear Fuel Services, another American company; and Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear corporation, are deeply involved in recycling weapons material and will need new supplies to continue that side of their businesses.

In the United States, domestic weapons recycling programs are smaller in scale and would be no replacement for Megatons for Megawatts. The Nuclear Fuel Services, in Erwin, Tenn., in 2005 began diluting uranium from the 217 tons the government declared surplus; so far 125 tons have been processed. It is used at the Tennessee Valley Authority plant.

The American plutonium recycling program is also well under way at a factory being built at the Energy Department’s Savannah River site in South Carolina to dismantle warheads from the American arsenal; a type of plutonium fuel, called mixed-oxide fuel, will come on the market in 2017.

In total, the 34 tons to be recycled there are expected to generate enough electricity for a million American homes for 50 years.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: November 11, 2009
A subheading on Tuesday with an article about the use of old nuclear bomb cores to produce electricity misstated the source of the bomb material used to generate power in the United States. It comes from bombs dismantled by both the United States and Russia — not from Russian bombs alone.

HOME – the film

HOME is an ode to the planet’s beauty and its delicate harmony. Through the landscapes of 54 countries captured from above, Yann Arthus-Bertrand takes us on an unique journey all around the planet, to contemplate it and to understand it. But HOME is more than a documentary with a message, it is a magnificent movie in its own right. Every breathtaking shot shows the Earth – our Earth – as we have never seen it before. Every image shows the Earth’s treasures we are destroying and all the wonders we can still preserve. “From the sky, there’s less need for explanations”. Our vision becomes more immediate, intuitive and emotional. HOME has an impact on anyone who sees it. It awakens in us the awareness that is needed to change the way we see the world. (HOME embraces the major ecological issues that confront us and shows how everything on our planet is interconnected.)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth’s climate.

The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being.

For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film.

HOME has been made for you : share it! And act for the planet.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand

HOME official website
http://www.home-2009.com

PPR is proud to support HOME
http://www.ppr.com

HOME is a carbon offset movie
http://www.actioncarbone.org

More information about the Planet
http://www.goodplanet.info

IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri under pressure to go over glacier error

Times Online Logo 222 x 25
February 4, 2010
Rajendra Pachauri
Pachauri: failed to act when error in glacier science was revealed 
Ben Webster, Environment Editor

The head of the UN’s climate change body is under pressure to resign after one of his strongest allies in the environmental movement said his judgment was flawed and called for a new leader to restore confidence in climatic science. 

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has insisted that he will remain in post for another four years despite having failed to act on a serious error in the body’s 2007 report. 

John Sauven, director of Greenpeace UK , said that Dr Pachauri should have acted as soon as he had been informed of the error, even though issuing a correction would have embarrassed the IPCC on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit. 

A journalist working for Science had told Dr Pachauri several times late last year that glaciologists had refuted the IPCC claim that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. Dr Pachauri refused to address the problem, saying: “I don’t have anything to add on glaciers.” He suggested that the error would not be corrected until 2013 or 2014, when the IPCC next reported. 

The IPCC issued a correction and apology on January 20, three days after the error had made global headlines. Mr Sauven said: “Mistakes will always be made but it’s how you handle those mistakes which affects the credibility of the institution. Pachauri should have put his hand up and said ‘we made a mistake’. It’s in these situations that your character and judgment is tested. Do you make the right judgment call? He clearly didn’t.” 

The IPCC needed a new chairman who would hold public confidence by introducing more rigorous procedures, Mr Sauven said. “The IPCC needs to regain credibility. Is that going to happen with Pachauri [as chairman]? I don’t think so. We need someone held in high regard who has extremely good judgment and is seen by the global public as someone on their side. 

“If we get a new person in with an open mind, prepared to fundamentally review how the IPCC works, we would regain confidence in the organisation.” 

Dr Pachauri did not return calls yesterday but he told Indian television at the weekend that he believed attacks on him were being orchestrated by companies facing lower profits because of actions against climate change recommended by the IPCC.He added: “My credibility has been established because I was re-elected chairman in 2008 by all the countries of the world. They must have been satisfied with what I did in terms of the fourth assessment report [published in 2007] because they have given me the mandate of completing the fifth assessment report [[to be released over 2013 and 2014] which I intend doing.” 

Bob Ward, of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, said the countries that had appointed Dr Pachauri should consider his handling of the glacier issue when the IPCC plenary meeting is held in October. “That issue ought to be dealt with by them. It would depend on how he responds to the crisis facing the IPCC. 

 

Copyright 2010 Times Newspapers Ltd.

Rajendra Pachauri raises more eyebrows with raunchy environmental novel

Times Online Logo 222 x 25
February 8, 2010

Rajendra Pachauri

UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change head Rajendra Pachauri

Jeremy Page in Delhi
The Indian head of the UN climate change panel, already under fire over errors in a key 2007 report, is raising eyebrows again after publishing a raunchy novel and accepting help in promoting it from BP and the head of India’s biggest gas producer.

The novel by Rajendra Pachauri, who heads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is called Return to Almora and follows a character called Sanjay Nath, who, like him, is an environmentalist and former engineer in his sixties.

For a country where sex is rarely discussed in public the book mingles lectures on climate change with descriptions of Sanjay’s sexual encounters, including frequent references to “voluptuous breasts”.

More controversially, it was released in Mumbai by Mukesh Ambani — India’s richest man and the head of the oil and gas conglomerate Reliance Industries, the largest private Indian company.

Reliance has close links to Dr Pachauri’s The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), and has received environmental awards from it, including one for its work on HIV/Aids in 2007. Mr Ambani has also been on the steering committee of TERI’s Centre for Research on Energy Security.

Neither man was available for comment, but sources close to them denied a conflict of interest, saying that they were friends and that Mr Ambani had released the book to highlight climate change. “If they wanted to boost sales, they could have got [the Bollywood star] Shahrukh Khan,” a source close to Mr Ambani told The Times.

For the Delhi launch of the book dinner and drinks were paid for by BP India, a big TERI sponsor.

It is unclear whether Dr Pachauri will profit from the novel. Many environmentalists regard it as unwise for a co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to accept such personal favours from energy industry giants.

Dr Pachauri is already facing calls to resign after the IPCC was forced to correct mistakes in its 2007 report, including a prediction that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.

The release of his book is highlighting links between TERI and large corporations, including big polluters.

TERI is a not-for-profit company that works “towards global sustainable development”, advises the Indian Government and gives awards for environmental excellence.

It also does consultancy work for corporations such as Coca-Cola and India’s National Hydroelectric Power Corp (NHPC). It does not make its accounts public.

Last year TERI awarded NHPC one of its corporate environmental excellence awards. Activists persuaded the judging panel to reverse its decision after showing that the corporation’s environmental commitments were eight years behind schedule.

However, TERI, which had received more than 10 million rupees (£137,000) from NHPC in the past three years, rejected that decision. Three members of the judging panel resigned in protest.

Dr Pachauri has defended his relationship with such companies, saying that there is no conflict of interest. Environmental activists disagree, saying that he needs to draw clearer lines between his personal interests, TERI, its sponsors and the IPCC.

Copyright 2010 Times Newspapers Ltd.