Dr Pachauri has rapidly distanced himself from the IPCC's baseless claim about vanishing glaciers. But the scientist who made the claim now works for Pachauri
I can report a further dramatic twist to what has inevitably been dubbed "Glaciergate" – the international row surrounding the revelation that the latest report on global warming by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) contained a wildly alarmist, unfounded claim about the melting of Himalayan glaciers. Last week, the IPCC, led by its increasingly controversial chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, was forced to issue an unprecedented admission: the statement in its 2007 report that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 had no scientific basis, and its inclusion in the report reflected a "poor application" of IPCC procedures.
What has now come to light, however, is that the scientist from whom this claim originated, Dr Syed Hasnain, has for the past two years been working as a senior employee of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the Delhi-based company of which Dr Pachauri is director-general. Furthermore, the claim – now disowned by Dr Pachauri as chairman of the IPCC – has helped TERI to win a substantial share of a $500,000 grant from one of America's leading charities, along with a share in a three million euro research study funded by the EU.
At the same time, Dr Pachauri has personally been drawn into a major row with the Indian government, previously among his leading supporters, after he described as "voodoo science" an official report by the country's leading glaciologist, Dr Vijay Raina, which dismissed Dr Hasnain's claims as baseless. Now that the IPCC has disowned the prediction made by his employee, Dr Pachauri has been castigated by India's environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, and called on by Dr Raina to apologise for his "voodoo science" charge. At a stormy Delhi press conference on Thursday, Dr Pachauri was asked whether he intended to resign as chairman of the IPCC – on whose behalf he collected a Nobel Peace Prize two years ago, alongside Al Gore – but he refused to answer questions on this fast-escalating row.