NEW DELHI (AP) — The former chairman of the U.N. climate panel has been removed from his job as head of a top energy institute in India following allegations of sexual harassment.
The governing council of The Energy and Resources Institute announced late Thursday that Rajendra Pachauri would be replaced as director-general of the renowned environment think-tank by Arun Mathur, an energy efficiency expert.
Although no reasons were given for Pachauri’s replacement, the council said the decision was taken keeping in view the interests of the private institute and its 1,200 employees working in different parts of the world.
Pachauri, 75, resigned from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in February, after a 29-year-old woman accused him of stalking and sexually harassing her while they worked together at the institute. He denies the allegations.
The woman filed a complaint with the police in early February alleging assault and criminal intimidation. She handed over as evidence dozens of text messages and emails that she alleged had been sent by Pachauri.
Separately, the institute’s internal complaints committee examined the evidence presented by the researcher, and questioned nearly 50 other employees at the institute, and concluded that the allegations of sexual harassment leveled by the researcher were valid.
No formal charges have been filed yet against Pachauri, but a court in February had prohibited him from entering or contacting anyone at the institute.
In March, police told a Delhi court that Pachauri was allegedly “influencing witnesses” and hampering their investigations.
Pachauri’s removal Thursday follows protests after a Delhi court last week allowed him to return to work at the institute. In the past couple of years, India has seen a wave of public anger and protest over a socially conservative nation’s chronic problem with sexual harassment and violence against women.
Pachauri had headed the four-decade-old think-tank for the last 34 years, when it emerged as a global center for research in efficient utilization of energy and sustainable use of natural resources. It has affiliate institutes in London and Washington, D.C.
The accusations against Pachauri caused widespread outrage in India, where women face a stigma against discussing issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace. However, several recent high-profile cases suggest that women are beginning to feel more comfortable going public with reports of sexual assaults.
Pachauri has chaired the climate panel — considered the world’s authority on climate science — since 2002, and had accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on its behalf.
The panel had shared the award with Al Gore, a former U.S. vice president and environmental campaigner.
This story corrects to show that the institute is private.
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