Nairobi/New Delhi: Buffeted by allegations of sexual harassment, RK Pachauri on Tuesday quit as chairman of UN's prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose meeting he was prevented from attending.
TERI, the NGO he heads in India, also announced that Pachauri has proceeded on leave "for the time being" but disclosed no reasons for doing so.
Without citing any reason, including the fact that he is facing a complaint from a woman staffer filed with the Delhi Police, Pachauri wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that he has decided to step down from the Chair of IPCC, which he has headed for 13 years, "some months" before completion of the term.
"The IPCC needs strong leadership and dedication of time and full attention by the Chair in the immediate future, which under the current circumstances I may be unable to provide, as shown by my inability to travel to Nairobi to chair the plenary session of the Panel this week."
"I have, therefore, taken the decision to step down from my position as Chair of the IPCC some months before completion of my term, and with effect from February 24, 2015," he said in the letter to Ban.
74-year-old Pachauri, who shared Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with former US Vice President Al Gore for work on climate issues, heads TERI, where a woman employee has filed a complaint with the police levelling allegations of sexual harassment.
Pachauri's decision to resign was made public by the IPCC at its ongoing three-day 41st session from today.
Granted interim protection from arrest till February 26 by a Delhi court yesterday, Pachauri claimed in his letter to Ban that he wanted to end his spell as chairman, IPCC on November 2 last year in Copenhagen but close friends and colleagues advised him against that and wanted him to continue with outreach efforts worldwide.
Last week, Pachauri had expressed his inability to go to Nairobi to chair the IPCC plenary session after the Delhi police registered a case of molestation and sexual harassment against him.
"The Bureau of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agreed on Tuesday, in accordance with its procedures, to designate Vice-Chair Ismail El Gizouli as Acting IPCC Chair," the IPCC said in a press release.
"The designation of Gizouli follows the decision by Rajendra K Pachauri to step down as Chairman of the IPCC effective today," it said.
In Delhi, announcing that Pachauri, Director General, has gone on leave for the time being, TERI said adequate internal arrangements have been made to ensure the smooth operations of the organisation.