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[Newsmaker]] Korean to lead U.N. climate change panel

A South Korean environment policy professor was elected to lead a U.N. panel on climate change, Seoul's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, touting the election as an opportunity to enhance the nation's influence in the global efforts to tackle environmental challenges. 
Lee Hoe-sung, professor at Korea University’s Graduate School of Energy and Environment Policy and Technology, will succeed Rajendra Pachauri from India as the sixth chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 

Lee Hoe-sung
Lee Hoe-sung

His official duty will begin on Friday and is expected to continue for at least five years, Seoul officials said.

“I am honored and grateful that the panel has elected me as the IPCC’s new chair,” Lee said in a press release. “The IPCC remains deeply committed to providing policymakers with the highest-quality scientific assessment of climate change, but we can do more.”

Six candidates from the U.S., Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and Sierra Leone, including Lee, participated in the election that was held at the four-day IPCC general conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, which began Monday.

In the second and final round of the election, Lee beat his Belgian rival 78-56, Seoul officials explained.

Having set up a task force of officials from the Korea Meteorological Administration and the ministries of foreign affairs and environment, the Seoul government carried out an intense election campaign since late last year to help Lee secure the IPCC chairmanship.

Lee has engaged in IPCC activities for more than 20 years, serving in various working-level positions.

He led the Korean Resource Economics Association in 1988 and the International Association for Energy Economics in 1999. He also served as the first head of the Korea Energy Economics Institute from 1986-1995.

He obtained his bachelor’s degree in trade from Seoul National University in 1969, and his doctorate in economics from Rutgers University in the U.S. in 1975.

He is the brother of Lee Hoi-chang, a former presidential candidate and head of the Grand National Party, the precursor to the ruling Saenuri Party.

Established by the U.N. Environment Program and World Meteorological Organization in 1988, the IPCC is a central body for joint research on climate change and efforts to share information and propose policy directions to world governments.

The IPCC, along with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for their efforts to build up and spread knowledge about climate change. The IPCC currently has 195 member states. Its bureau consists of 34 officials, including the chairman. 

By Song Sang-ho(