Climate Feedback

UN climate chief resigns

Olive Heffernan

UN climate chief Yvo de Boer announced today that he will step down on July 1 after nearly four years in the post.

His resignation comes two months after a disappointing climate summit in Copenhagen, where nations failed to broker a deal on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2012. Instead, the climate talks, held in the Danish capital in December, produced the Copenhagen Accord, a voluntary agreement to limit warming to 2°C that does not specify how that goal will be achieved.

At the end of the Copenhagen climate conference, de Boer was asked by the press whether he would step down. He responded that he had no intention of leaving his position before seeing a global climate deal in place and he would only step down if he thought that he had been responsible for the failure of the negotiations to make more progress.

De Boer says that the failure of the Copenhagen talks was not a factor in his decision to resign, but as Julian Rush of Channel 4 News says, this seems rather hard to believe.

Over the past four years, de Boer has put his heart and soul into trying to get the world to agree a climate deal. His tears in Bali were evidence of his frustration at the slow pace of the negotiations, as was the life ring he donned at a press conference in Copenhagen.

For de Boer – who got nations to agree the Bali roadmap in 2007 – the outcome of Copenhagen must have been terribly disappointing. And the prospects for the next climate conferencen – scheduled for November in Cancun, Mexico – to deliver a treaty look equally grim.

On leaving his position, de Boer will join the consultancy group KPMG as global advisor on climate and sustainability and work with a number of universities. “I believe the time is ripe for me to take on a new challenge, working on climate and sustainability with the private sector and academia,” he said in a press statement.

Responding to the news of de Boer’s resignation, UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said “Yvo de Boer’s patient work helped produce the Copenhagen Accord which contains commitments covering 80 percent of global emissions, something never previously achieved. We must quickly find a suitable successor, who can oversee the negotiations and reform the UNFCCC to ensure it is up to the massive task of dealing with what are some of the most complex negotiations ever."


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