New Delhi-based NGO Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), headed by Rajendra K. Pachauri, got funds from the Environment and Forest ministry to conduct meetings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body he chairs.
The IPCC is a UN body comprising scientists from more than 100 countries that provides inputs to policy makers on combating climate change.
Between 2004 and 2006, the environment ministry allocated funds amounting to about Rs. 56 lakh to TERI for conducting IPCC meetings to discuss the impact of climate change, show documents made available to the Hindustan Times.
Or, TERI gained monetarily from work relating to the global body that Pachauri heads.
“There is no conflict of interest,” Pachauri told Hindustan Times in an e-mail response. “The first IPCC chairman, Prof Bert Bolin received substantial financial support from the gover-nment of Sweden for his funct-ioning as chairman. The seco-nd chairman, Dr Robert Watson, was in the White House when he was elected chairman and then moved to the World Bank, where the bank not only paid his salary but also provided all support for his functioning.”
But Ashish Kothari, founder of the NGO Kalpvariksh, which filed a Right to Information application to ascertain the money given by the ministry to TERI, said there was definite conflict of interest.
“In the context of TERI benefiting from IPCC findings, the government needs to consider the wider issue of conflict of interest involving ministry officials, companies and NGOs,” Kothari said.
Apart from meetings, the government also gave money to TERI to employ staff and set up secretariat support and communication facilities for the IPCC office in India.
Kothari said the government should have asked an organisation not linked with the IPCC to host these meetings.
“The ministry allocated the work to TERI, after obtaining approval from the finance ministry, as the institute was well versed with the requirements of IPCC,” said an environment ministry official not authorised to speak to the media.
Pradipto Ghosh, environment secretary at the time of allocation of these funds and now a TERI fellow, said there was nothing out of place in the allocation of funds. “TERI has been receiving funds from the ministry before and after my tenure,” said Ghosh.
The revelation comes soon after reports that TERI got projects on the basis of IPCC’s faulty predictions on the impact of climate change in the next 30 to 50 years. Some of the predictions, such as Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035, have been found to be wrong.