IPCC Chief Rajendra Pachauri new IRI Board Chairman

Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, has agreed to serve as the next board chairman of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society.

“I think there’s so much that the IRI can do. Climate change gives us an opportunity to reengage with rest of world and the IRI is uniquely placed to do that,” Pachauri said during IRI’s board meeting last week, the first in which he served as chairman.

Columbia University hosted a small event commemorating Pachauri’s new role in the institution, as well as honoring outgoing chairman and respected climate scientist Michael B. McElroy, from Harvard University.

“We are very appreciative of Mike’s support and counsel, which have helped build the institution from its infancy to where it is today,” said IRI Director-General Stephen E. Zebiak. “And we are both excited and honored to welcome Dr. Pachauri as our board chair. He’s a recognized global leader in climate affairs, and will assist us in engaging the growing international agenda on adaptation and climate risk management.”

The Earth Institute’s Jeffrey Sachs, also an IRI board member, praised the IRI’s mission, which is to enhance society’s ability to understand, anticipate and manage climate risk in order to improve human welfare.

“The IRI was 13 years ahead of its time in seeing the importance of linking climate and society,” he said. “The world is catching up now. Climate-change adaptation is front and center, and no other institution in the world has pioneered this field with such depth and skill.”