Media ignored UN climate chief’s sex groping scandal


The Harvey Weinstein of the Climate World

By Donna Laframboise

SPOTLIGHT: Why doesn’t the public know about these 3-year-old allegations?

BIG PICTURE: Rajendra Pachauri resigned in disgrace in February 2015 after chairing the world’s most important climate body for 13 years. An employee of an institute he ran in India told police he’d persistently groped and forcibly kissed her. She had, she said, lost her job after refusing to sit beside him on a plane. Soon afterward, other women stepped forward with similar stories.

Pachauri was a big fish. Frequently described as the world’s top climate scientist, he stood on a podium beside Al Gore when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Gore were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The fact that he was accused of multiple offenses under the Indian Penal Code and faced maximum prison sentences of three to seven years should have been front page news.

Canada’s publicly-funded CBC website reported Pachauri’s official remarks in March, April, and November of 2014. But there’s no mention whatsoever of his resignation a few months later – or of his ongoing legal battles since then. It’s as though these women’s allegations don’t exist.

Extensively interviewed on Australia’s publicly-funded ABC radio and television programs, and quoted at length in its news articles, Pachauri was similarly considered newsworthy by the ABC in March, April, September, November and December of 2014. Since then: a total blackout. Not one reference to his resignation the following February – or of the harm he allegedly inflicted on numerous young female employees.

TOP TAKEAWAY:  The IPCC claims to be saving the planet. Many journalists believe the planet needs saving. In a profound betrayal of the public’s trust, some news outlets don’t report stories that make the saviours look bad.


  • Pachauri’s questionable judgment was newsworthy long before the emergence of sexual harassment allegations. My Pachauri-themed blog posts from 2010 to mid-2013 are collected in a book, Into the Dustbin: Rajendra Pachauri, the Climate Report & the Nobel Peace Prize. Had this man, whom I’ve long described as a non-stop train wreck, received proper scrutiny his tenure would have been considerably shorter. More importantly, the public would be aware that the IPCC is profoundly flawed. It would be unwise to buy a used car based on the advice of this body. Yet governments have entrusted it with crucial climate decisions.
  • see another example of Pachauri-related media misconduct here: The Nobel Lie That Just Won’t Die
  • my longish 2015 overview essay: Pachauri’s TERI: Not a Safe Place for Women
  • Pachauri allegedly sent the first complainant numerous texts and e-mails, which she turned over to police – read them here (I wrote about them here)
  • Pachauri says his multiple electronic devices were hacked and that he isn’t the author of those messages. That claim has been rejected by forensic examiners.


my 2015 coverage of what should have been an international scandal (latest to earliest):

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