Right-wing opponents of climate action such as Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Koch Industries’ Americans For Prosperity have attempted to demonize climate scientists as part of a corrupt, conspiratorial United Nations bureaucracy trying to accumulate money and power. In an interview on Friday with the Wonk Room, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), explained the reality of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization. Since its founding in 1988, it has functioned as a grassroots, volunteer organization of the world’s top climate scientists, working gratis to synthesize their research for the public interest:
The beauty of the organization is that all the scientists the best scientists all over the world volunteer their time, without a single penny being paid by the IPCC.
“We are a very lean organization,” Pachauri explained. The entire annual budget is on the order of five to six million dollars a year. He grinned as he described that the “bureaucracy” of the IPCC Secretariat — the paid staff of the organization — has ballooned, after 17 years of having only five people, to ten people. The thousands of scientists who volunteer their time and effort have committed their lives to research, he said, and they want to be part of the “great mission” of the IPCC to make the science of climate change clear to the world.
In remarks delivered earlier in the day at the Climate Change Communication Forum, Pachauri said that one of the tasks the IPCC needs to take on in the future is to be able to effectively counter disinformation spread by hostile interests. “There is clearly an attempt in some cases to spread information that is far from the truth, which is inaccurate,” he said. “It is the responsibility of the IPCC — as a body serving the larger interests of society — to be able to take care of that reality. So I think that our challenge is cut out for us.”