IPCC Chief Says Grassroots Must Lead on Climate Action

rajendra_600.jpg

Rajendra Pachauri, the occasionally controversial head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that climate action would have to bubble up from the bottom, rather than coming down from on high.

"I really think the time has come for us to build from bottom to top. There is enough initiative in different countries that all this will bubble up and perhaps lead to an accord," Pachauri told The Atlantic during a break at the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting convened by the Department of Energy. "I think the drive really has to come from communities, from the grassroots level, and the public at large."

To Pachauri's detractors, his comments may come as a surprise. The organization he heads is, in some ways, the ultimate instantiation of a trained scientific elite. The world's best climate scientists all work together to synthesize the many fields related to climate science (oceanography, atmospheric chemistry, etc) into reports and projections on what's likely to happen if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere continues to rise.

The group's 2007 report unequivocally stated that climate change was happening and that it was largely due to anthropogenic sources. Some saw it as a tipping point that could lead to climate action on the national and international levels. Last year, Pachauri and other scientists pushed for a more ambitious decarbonization of the economy.

But no international accord has come together, and climate legislation remains stalled in Congress. Maybe that's why Pachauri is sounding the grassroots note: twisting the arms of national leaders just hasn't worked.

Image: Alexis Madrigal/The Atlantic

Presented by

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Technology

Just In