Taking over

Published: Thursday 31 October 1996

Robert T Watson of the US got elected as the next chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at its 12th session held in Mexico from September 11 to 13. Watson will co-chair the IPCC with the present incumbent Bert Bolin till September 1997 when the latter's term would come to an end. India had boycotted the meet, sulking over having only one candidate in the fray.

The IPCC was founded in 1988 under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation with the mandate to assess the scientific and technical information about global climate change..

The search committee to elect a new chairperson to the IPCC was set up in April 1996 with only one candidate -- Watson. India felt that a wider search was called for and hence sought the postponement of the election, but to no avail.

Now the election of Watson to this important position comes as a loss of face for the Indian Government, especially as nobody could defend its position in the election meet. And it was smooth sailing for Watson who was elected unanimously.

In his acceptance speech, Watson outlined some key issues including the dual responsibilities of environmental protection and poverty alleviation. He stressed the importance of trust and participation between nations and the need to look at the environment as a whole, linking climate change to other related issues such as technological development.

Watson outlined the work programme in front of the IPCC-- the preparation for the Third Assessment Report to be completed in 2000, election of a new Bureau, a review of Working Groups' structure, and improving the involvement of developing countries. The next IPCC plenary session will be held in September 1997. Both China and Maldives have offered to host it.

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