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UN climate change panel nomination for Swiss expert

Thomas Stocker could be next in line at the head of the IPCC Keystone

Swiss climate scientist Thomas Stocker is Switzerland’s hope for taking the helm of the United Nations’ expert panel on climate change, a Nobel Prize-winning group that he has been heavily involved in for years.

The cabinet put forward Stocker’s name on Wednesday to chair the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a Geneva-based body involving thousands of scientists, whose work informs governments and industry about options for dealing with global warming.

Stocker, a professor of climate and environmental physics at the University of Bern, will vie with other candidates already nominated from Belgium and South Korea, and possibly against more expected by the April deadline from Austria, Britain, Germany and the United States.

Since 2008, he has been co-chair of one of the IPCC’s main working groups focused on the scientific basis for climate change. The work forms the basis for consensus that human-induced global warming will reach dangerous levels without more worldwide action.

Key contributor

Stocker was a key author of the panel’s climate change report in November 2014 that declared the human contribution to climate change was clear-cut and set out a number of stark warnings on the urgency of action needed.

It involved the work and research of thousands of scientists and was praised around the globe after being used as the basis for consensus toward a new agreement to limit emissions of heat-trapping industrial gases from fossil fuel burning that governments hope to adopt worldwide later this year.

Stocker has built a reputation for being a reformer within the IPCC, recommending that status reports be published every eight to ten years instead of ever six to reduce the workload on researchers, and pushing to bring in smaller reports on important topics in the meantime.

The current head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri of India, was first elected in 2002 and re-elected by acclamation in 2008. He announced his intention to step down this year, and his replacement will be elected in October by national representatives.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR