Report clears IPCC head Pachauri, UK paper apologises

By Bryan Walker 27/08/2010

Back in March I posted on IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri’s stout defence of the IPCC report against the attacks to which it was being subjected by hysterical denialism.  But he has also had to defend himself against accusations in an article by Christopher Booker and Richard North in the Sunday Telegraph in December which claimed that the UN climate chief was “making a fortune from his links with ‘carbon trading’ companies” and that payments from his work for other organisations “must run into millions of dollars”.

KPMG was engaged by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the non-profit organisation Pachauri heads, to conduct an independent review of personal financial records of Dr Pachauri and other records of TERI to confirm if there is any evidence that suggests that Dr Pachauri misused his position for personal benefit as alleged.

The KPMG report has now been made public.  The Guardian reports:

’The KPMG audit, completed in March, showed the allegation that Pachauri had made millions of dollars could not be further from the truth. In addition to his annual salary of £45,000, the auditors found that in the period 1 April 2008 – 31 December 2009, Pachauri received 20,000 rupees (£278) from two national power commissions in India, on which he serves as director; 35,880 rupees (£498) for articles and lectures; and a maximum of 100,000 rupees (£1,389) in the form of royalties from his books and awards.

’Any money paid as a result of work that Pachauri had done for other organisations went to TERI. The accounts also show that Pachauri also donated to the institute a lifetime achievement award from the Environment Partnership Summit – a 200,000 rupee prize he would have been entitled to keep.’

The Sunday Telegraph has removed the article from its website and apologised, hardly handsomely but apparently to avoid libel proceedings:

“[The article] was not intended to suggest that Dr Pachauri was corrupt or abusing his position as head of the IPCC and we accept KPMG found Dr Pachauri had not made ‘millions of dollars’ in recent years. We apologise to Dr Pachauri for any embarrassment caused.”

George Monbiot has made trenchant comment.

’Has anyone been as badly maligned as Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ?

’…The story immediately travelled around the world. It was reproduced on hundreds of blogs. The allegations it contained were widely aired in the media and generally believed. For a while, no discussion of climate change or the IPCC appeared complete without reference to Pachauri’s ‘dodgy’ business dealings and alleged conflicts of interest.

’There was just one problem: the story was untrue.

 ’It’s not just that Pachauri hadn’t been profiting from the help he has given to charities, businesses and institutions, his accounts show that he is scrupulous to the point of self-denial.’

The Sunday Telegraph article also complained that we don’t know “how much we all pay him” as chairman of the IPCC. The answer, as Monbiot reports, is nothing.  This was information that the journalists could easily have obtained but driven by their intention to malign preferred not to.

This won’t be the end of the matter for denialists of course. North on his blog puts the apology down to the paper’s need to avoid libel proceedings from an ’unethical law firm’ and continues undaunted:

’If you wish to believe that means Pachauri didn’t make millions of dollars, that is your affair. But the crucial thing is that the paper has not apologised for accusing Pachauri of making millions of dollars. That accusation stands uncorrected. The paper simply accepts that KPMG has a claim in this respect.’

Monbiot expects that the smear campaign will continue, and become ever more lurid as new charges are invented.

’The best we can do is to set out the facts and appeal to whatever decency the people spreading these lies might have, and ask them to consider the impact of what they have done to an innocent man. Will it work? I wouldn’t bet on it. As we have seen in the United States, where some people (often the same people) continue to insist that Barack Obama is a Muslim and was born abroad, certain views are impervious to evidence.’

If we need reminding, denialism will stop at nothing in its campaign to denigrate the science of climate change. That is what the attacks on Pachauri are about. He is chairman of the IPCC. Portray him as dishonest and hope thereby to spread doubt about the IPCC reports. It is determination to suppress the science which informs the attacks on him and on the scientists who have been falsely accused of various malpractices.