UN’s Top Climate Scientist Steps Down Amid Sexual Harassment Charges

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, announced he was stepping down from his post Tuesday as a second woman accused him of sexual harassment.

Unite Nations officials announced Pachauri’s departure from the IPCC at a meeting in Nairobi. Officials have already named his replacement until new IPCC elections can take place. Pachauri did not attend the conference in East Africa after two women came forward accusing him of sexual harassment.

“The Bureau of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agreed on Tuesday, in accordance with its procedures, to designate Vice-Chair Ismail El Gizouli as Acting IPCC Chair. The designation of Gizouli follows the decision by Rajendra K Pachauri, PhD, to step down as Chairman of the IPCC effective today,” the IPCC said in a statement.

Pachauri is being investigated by Indian police for allegedly sexually harassing a female subordinate at the Energy and Resources Institute where he serves as director general. The female employee accused Pachauri of unwanted advances, emails and text messages.

Pachauri vehemently denied the accusation, saying his computer and communications devices were hacked.

“The entire computer outputs on the basis of which the said complaint has been filed and on the basis of which your questions are raised are completely false, fabricated, forged and manipulated,” Pachauri told The Economic Times. “Your questions have no connection with truth.”

But then another woman came forward over the weekend alleging Pachauri has sexually harassed her as well. The woman, who was inspired to come out against the 74-year-old IPCC chair after the first accusation, added that Pachauri has sexually harassed many other women who worked for him.

“I and many other female colleagues and friends who have worked at the same organisation as the complainant at/in different points of time and capacities during the last ten years have either been through similar harassment at his hands or have known someone who did,” the women, who chose to remain anonymous, wrote in a statement.

“Having mustered some courage, I complained to the then administrative head, essentially the side-kick to Big Boss. Side-kick refused to believe me, saying that I may have misread his warmth, that such things had never been reported, requested me to end the matter there and started to show me a meditative, self-help magazine that he subscribed to,” wrote the second woman, who claimed to work at TERI in 2005.

“The comments about nicknames, and SMSs, and his behaviour is exactly what my complainant has also mentioned,” said Prashant Mendiratta, the lawyer representing the first woman who accused Pachauri.

The IPCC is an international body that writes major reports synthesizing the latest science global warming. Pachauri has headed the body since 2002, including when it received the Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore in 2007 for its work on global warming.

Ironically, Pachauri is also the author of a 2010 steamy romance novel about an Indian climate scientist who travels the world having sex with lots of women.

The UK Telegraph reports that “the book, which makes reference to the Kama Sutra, starts promisingly enough as it tells the story of a climate expert with a lament for the denuded mountain slopes of Nainital, in northern India, where deforestation by the timber mafia and politicians has ‘endangered the fragile ecosystem.’”

Then it moves into highly detailed, sexual encounters.

“She removed her gown, slipped off her nightie and slid under the quilt on his bed … Sanjay put his arms around her and kissed her, first with quick caresses and then the kisses becoming longer and more passionate,” Pachauri writes in his book. “May slipped his clothes off one by one, removing her lips from his for no more than a second or two.”

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