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article imageHead of United Nations Climate Change negotiations resigns

By Stephanie Dearing     Feb 19, 2010 in Environment
The resignation of the head of the U.N. Climate Change unit comes just as nations are scheduled to gather again in an attempt to create a concrete agreement on greenhouse gas emissions.
The Dutch-born Yvo de Boer announced his resignation Thursday, effective July 1, 2010. de Boer cited stress and depression following December's Copenhagen Climate Change negotiations as reasons for stepping down. de Boer currently is the Executive Director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He was criticized during the Copenhagen negotiations as being part of the reason that a binding agreement was not achieved. Robert Page, Chairman of Canada's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy described de Boer to the Globe & Mail. "I never had the sense that we were dealing with a person of vision, a person who could see the changes that were necessary in the international system to get a climate-change agreement."
Observers say that de Boer's resignation weakens and threatens the latest attempt to create a global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nations has been coordinating the negotiations. The agreement that was drafted at the last minute in December has been criticized for not being strong enough, and is not binding, but nearly 100 nations have signed on to date.
de Boer's resignation has cast a shadow of doubt on the negotiations, with some even saying the resignation is proof that the world's biggest producers of greenhouse gases now control the negotiation process. The positions taken by The United States media around the world serve to emphasize the lack of leadership and unity evident during the ongoing climate change negotiatons. Some view de Boer's resignation as a disaster while others believe his stepping down presents a new opportunity to acheive consensus.
However, with commentary that de Boer would not resign if a binding agreement were imminent, there is a concern his resignation will give more ammunition to climate change skeptics. Armed with news about errors and ommissions made by some climate change scientists, skeptics have become increasingly vocal and are working to subvert an agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. Those who support a binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt to prevent permanent climate change are now under attack by skeptics.
de Boer will not be leaving the field of climate change -- he has accepted a post with KPMG as a consultant on climate and sustainability.
The head of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, will appoint someone to take de Boer's place. There is no hint as to who is being considered to fill the position.
More about Climate change, United Nations, Yvo boer, Framework convention climate change
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