Published January 7, 2008 06:10 PM

U.N. climate panel head probably seeking re-election

By Alister Doyle and John Acher

OSLO (Reuters) - India's Rajendra Pachauri said on Monday he will probably seek a new term as head of the U.N. climate panel that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

"I think we are riding a crest ... as far as climate change is concerned, particularly spreading the information of climate change," Pachauri, 67, told Reuters in Oslo after making an evening speech about the risks of global warming.

"I feel that even though it's going to be very tough ... I will probably throw my hat in," he said when asked if he would seek re-election in April for a second six-year term as head of the U.N. panel that draws on the work of about 2,500 scientists.


"I am tending towards that ... I feel that I should decide formally in the next couple of weeks," he said of the election to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"But I need to consult a few other people," he added. The IPCC produced mammoth reports about climate change in 2007 and before that in 2001 and 1995.

The IPCC's warnings last year of ever more droughts, floods, heatwaves, and rising seas brought pressure in many nations for tougher long-term action to slow climate change.

Pachauri was elected as chair of the IPCC in a 76-49 vote in April 2002, with the backing of U.S. President George W. Bush, over the former IPCC head, U.S. scientist Robert Watson.

Gore at the time criticized Pachauri as the 'let's drag our feet candidate' who would get little done.

Gore has since apologized for his criticisms of Pachauri -- the IPCC's 2007 reports bluntly said that human activities, led by burning fossil fuels, were warming the planet and that governments should act quickly to avert the worst damage.


About 190 nations agreed in Bali, Indonesia, last month to launch two years of talks on a global treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which binds 37 rich nations to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. The United States is the only developed nation outside Kyoto and developing nations have no 2012 curbs.

Pachauri collected the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on December 10 on behalf of the IPCC, which shared the award with Gore for his role in raising awareness of climate change with his movie "An Inconvenient Truth."

Pachauri said costs of curbing climate change, mainly by shifting from fossil fuels, need not be high. Bush rejected Kyoto in 2001, saying it would cost too much and wrongly excluded developing nations.

In his six years as chair of the IPCC, Pachauri said that he had focused on the broad challenge of building up government confidence and raising public awareness of climate change, rather than getting involved in the scientific detail.

"I feel partly vindicated that it's worked," he said.

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(Editing by Charles Dick)

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