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Top UN climate official resigns as case for global warming comes under attack

The top UN climate official said today that he will be resigning after nearly four years in the post.

Yvo de Boer's departure takes effect on July 1, just five months before 193 nations are due to reconvene in Mexico to try to reach an agreement on greenhouse emissions.

Nations failed to broker a deal at the climate change summit in Copenhagen in December.

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Yvo de Boer said today that he will be resigning after nearly four years in the post

Mr de Boer said that he was announcing his departure now to allow a successor to be found well before the Mexico conference.

The former Dutch civil servant was appointed as executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2006.

He was widely credited with raising the profile of climate issues through his frequent press encounters and his backstage lobbying of world leaders.

But he failed to bridge the suspicions and distrust between developing and industrial countries that barred the way to a final agreement at the climate change summit in Copenhagen in December.

Mr de Boer's resignation comes as the case for global warming comes under attack.

The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently came under fire when scientists cast doubt on its claim that the evidence for global warming is 'unequivocal'.

Some researchers, including a former IPCC report author, have said that widespread and systematic tampering of the data mean the case for global warming has been grossly overstated.

The panel has also been caught making unfounded claims several times in recent weeks.

These include using a student's essay and an article from a climbing magazine to make claims about reductions in ice on mountains around the world in a report used by governments around the world to set environmental policy.

The academic at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ affair, also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon.

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Mr de Boer looks disappointed and weary as he covers his face at the climate change summit in Copenhagen last December

Professor Phil Jones added that for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming.

Mr de Boer recently showed his support for IPCC chair Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, saying that his colleague should not resign over the scandal.

'He has led the scientific community in a very dedicated manner,' Mr de Boer said. 'The question really is how fast the glaciers are melting.'

Assessments made by the IPCC significantly influence the UNFCCC.

Despite the recent attack on the case for global warming, Mr de Boer said he believes talks 'are on track,' although it was uncertain that a full treaty could be finalised at the next conference in November.

The partial agreement reached in Copenhagen, brokered by President Barack Obama, 'was very significant,' he said.

But he acknowledged frustration that the deal fell short of consensus and was merely 'noted' rather than formally adopted by all countries.

'We were about an inch away from a formal agreement. It was basically in our grasp, but it didn't happen,' he said. 'So that was a pity.'

He said the disappointing Copenhagen outcome was unrelated to his decision to quit, and that he had begun looking for a new job last year before the summit.

But Mr de Boer appeared to be more disheartened by the snail-paced negotiations than he was ready to admit.

'I saw him at the airport after Copenhagen,' said Jake Schmidt, a climate expert for the U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council.

'He was tired, worn out'. The summit 'clearly took a toll on him.'

Mr de Boer said he will be a consultant on climate and sustainability issues for KPMG, a global accounting firm, and will be associated with several universities

Added: Feb-18-2010 Occurred On: Feb-18-2010
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