Right Opinion

Climate Change's #MeToo Movement: The Dark Secrets of Climate Saviors

Cornwall Alliance · Sep. 24, 2018

By Vijay Jayaraj

The #MeToo movement this year exposed the dark secrets of Hollywood and many other global organizations. But the #MeToo movement within one fraternity has been suppressed and underreported by the leftist media.

And that is the climate change fraternity encompassing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and their climate change conferences that host a wide network of collaborators, including climate scientists and diplomats.

The disturbing news about sexual harassment within the climate fraternity came to light during last year’s climate conference at Bonn. A reasonable number of women have testified of abuse they’ve suffered at UN climate change conferences.

Among them was Farhana Yamin. Yamin has been a climate change lawyer for over 30 years, and she came out against the sexual harassment that was going on within the climate fraternity. 

In her detailed write-up at climatechangenews.com, Yamin records that many women have experienced the same in the past three decades and that incidents of sexual misconduct have been “brushed under the carpet.”

Meera Ghani is another climate victim who spoke out against what she describes to be a toxic culture of sexual harassment. It has been nearly two years since Ghani left the climate scene.

In her write-up, Ghani recounts the belittling comments, harassment, objectification, groping, and other serious sexual offenses she encountered at climate conferences. Peers to whom she reported these incidents politely suggested that she should “brush it aside” and told her that the sexual harassment culture was common at UN climate talks.

Women like Ghani and Yamin were involved in the climate movement because of their passion to save the planet. Seldom did they know that they would be sexually harassed.

The mainstream media has largely remained silent on accounts of these women. Instead, it merely reported about the announcement of “zero tolerance for sexual harassment” at Bonn by lead diplomat Patricia Espinosa.

However, the biggest perpetrator in the climate fraternity is not just some random diplomat but the former chairman of the IPCC, Mr. Rajendra Pachauri.

Pachauri led the IPCC from 2002 to 2015, before he resigned on charges of sexual allegations against him in India’s capital city, Delhi. Before heading the IPCC, Pachauri was already a director general at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) — India’s apex think tank educational institute for energy and environmental studies, where he committed his sexual misconduct.

While many believed the allegations against him could have been brought just to tarnish his image, the case against him became stronger as time passed by.

The police have identified more than 23 people as prosecution witnesses against Pachauri in his sexual misconduct case. The victim, a former colleague of his at TERI, submitted to the police thousands of emails, texts, and Whatsapp messages that involved Pachauri.

The case became substantial in 2016, and TERI refused to renew his employment. Last week, Delhi’s Saket district court (less than a mile from my previous home) ordered Pachauri to stand trial on criminal charges.

Metropolitan Magistrate Charu Gupta charged Pachauri under Sections 354 (outraging modesty), 354A (making physical contact, unwelcome and sexually colored remarks), and 509 (teasing and using vulgar gestures and actions) of the Indian Penal Code.

It is astounding and shocking that the former chairman of the IPCC is a man of such dark secrets. While that can be true of any man and any profession, Mr. Pachauri’s life only adds more weight to the “toxic culture” claims of women like Ghani.

When will the leftist media confront the real toxic sexual culture within the climate change bodies and conferences?

It is sad to understand that the media have blurred the line between consensual relationships and sexual harassment. The real demon that the #MeToo movement strives to slay will be slain only by bringing to light the dark evil secrets, not by suppressing them for political or ideological reasons.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Chennai, India.

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