South Korea’s Hoesung Lee, chosen on Tuesday to head the UN’s panel of climate scientists, favours wider pricing of carbon dioxide output to curb emissions of the greenhouse gases the group blames for global warming.
He told Reuters in a telephone interview he would seek to open the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), traditionally led by scientists from Europe and North America, to experts from around the world.
He added the IPCC would also strive to include more women scientists in its work, make its science better known and narrow down uncertainties about the future pace of global warming.
Government representatives meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia, picked the professor of the economics of climate change to succeed India’s Rajendra Pachauri as chair of the IPCC, whose findings are the main guide for combating global warming.
IPCC scientists say that warming is causing more heat waves, downpours and rising sea levels around the world.
Lee, 69, beat five rivals for the job as head of the world’s top authority on climate change, including Belgium’s Jean-Pascal van Ypersele by 78-56 votes in a run-off. He will be chair for 6-8 years to oversee a mammoth report about global warming.
The last IPCC reports in 2013-14 concluded it is 95 percent probable that human activities, led by the burning of fossil fuels, are the main cause of warming since 1950. Warming meant risks of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts,” it said.
Lee, until now a vice-chair of the IPCC, will be the U.N.’s top climate scientist when almost 200 nations meet in Paris in from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, seeking to agree a new global deal to slow climate change.
Pachauri, who had been due to stand down at the meeting in Croatia after 13 years, quit early in February after a female researcher accused him of sexual harassment, a charge he denies.
The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with climate campaigner and former U.S. vice president Al Gore.
Lee said he would not comment on what he called “specific policy matters” in member states, when asked what he would tell Republican presidential candidates in the United States, several of whom doubt that climate change is a major problem.