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2009-12-18

"The Countries that Can Really Make a Difference Have Not Really Got Sensitive Enough to the Plight of the Poorest of the Poor"–IPCC Chair Pachauri

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We speak with Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about the climate summit, the role of developed countries, and why he promotes vegetarianism as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Pachauri and the IPCC won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Moments later, I caught up with Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That panel, Pachauri, as well as Al Gore, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Pachauri was in the middle of taking questions from other reporters.

    REPORTER: Why is the conference still discussing two degrees? The World Meteorological Organization said everything is increasing much faster than anticipated. Why is the emerging science not [inaudible] —-

    RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Well, I think there are two reasons. I think the countries that can really make a difference have not really got sensitive enough to the plight of the poorest of the poor. I think that’s a harsh reality which we have no choice but to accept. And I hope that will change.

    And the second reason is that, you know, climate change and acting to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases would affect every sector of the economy. And there’s a certain inertia over there. There’s a certain vested interest that almost sees that as an enemy of business as usual.

    So I’m not surprised. I mean, this is something that we should have anticipated. People are not going to give up their so-called benefits. They’re not going to give up the profits that they are making from what they are doing business on. And it’s inevitable that you’ll get this kind of resistance. But I think truth will triumph, and science will triumph.

    AMY GOODMAN: Do you think two degrees is enough?

    RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Well, I mean, let’s begin with that. I mean, it took a long time to get at least some degree of agreement on this limit. So I think the next step will come when the science emerges by 2013, 2014.

    AMY GOODMAN: Do you think the US is offering enough in terms of cuts in greenhouse gas emissions?

    RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Well, as far as the US is concerned, I mean, let’s face it, for eight years they had no action. So I think they really have to take one step at a time, and I hope they don’t stop there.

    AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Pachauri, you said if people stop eating meat once a week, it would help on the issue of global warming.

    RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Of course.

    AMY GOODMAN: Why?

    RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Why? Because according to the FAO, there are -— 18 percent of the emissions of greenhouse gases are associated with the livestock cycle. In fact, there are other instruments which indicate much higher emissions from this source. And I think if we make adjustments in our lifestyles, then even a small step like this can really make a difference. It would bring down emissions, who knows, by three, four of five percent.

    AMY GOODMAN: Just if people stop eating meat once a week?

    RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Yeah, and they’ll be healthier. I keep telling everyone, you’ll be healthier, and so would the planet.

    AMY GOODMAN: Are you a vegetarian?

    RAJENDRA PACHAURI: I’ve become a vegetarian for this very reason.

    REPORTER: When did you become a vegetarian?

    RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Well, about seven, eight years ago.

AMY GOODMAN: Rajendra Pachauri is chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

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