Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will lead the new Yale Climate and Energy Institute, University President Richard Levin announced Tuesday at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Denmark.
Pachauri, who accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the IPCC, is a renowned economist and global leader in the policy debate on climate change. He will work half-time at the YCEI, a collaborative initiative launched by 100 Yale scientists, social scientists and policy experts, which will fund and support research on a variety of climate-related topics.
“No one has a more comprehensive grasp of the science and policy of climate change or has done more to bring attention to this urgent issue,” Levin said in a statement Tuesday.
Pachauri will continue to serve as chair of the IPCC and director general of The Energy and Resources Institute, an Indian-based organization that addresses energy, environmental and developmental patterns.
YCEI will promote interdisciplinary research and advance knowledge of climate change by providing seed grants, supporting postgraduate study and sponsoring conferences and workshops, according to a University release. Initial YCEI projects will include searching for alternative fuels, forecasting climate variability and studying the spread of infectious diseases.
In Denmark on Tuesday, Pachauri said it was up to politicians to act on the research that scientists around the world are doing.
“I am afraid that it is something that involves value judgment on the part of policymakers, and I am afraid that they shied away from it,” he told the conference. “It is time to take action.”
Pauchauri told The Guardian on Tuesday that he was skeptical of the United States’ ability to enact any sweeping change, though he also said any global climate pact would be ineffective without America’s participation.
“[Obama] is not going to say by 2020 I’m going to reduce emissions by 30 percent,” Pachauri said, according to The Guardian. “He’ll have a revolution on his hands. He has to do it step by step.”
Besides having held numerous positions at academic and research institutes, Pachauri played an instrumental role in the process leading up to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.