Family statement on the passing, at 79, of Rajendra Pachauri, who led the U.N.’s climate panel through triumphs and challenges

Andy Revkin
4 min readFeb 14, 2020


Rajendra K. Pachauri, right, with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, celebrating the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Gore in 2007. (Photo Hr2, Wikimedia Commons)

I reported on the rise, triumphs, tribulations and troubles of Rajendra K. Pachauri, the longest-serving chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, from 2002 through 2015 for The New York Times. Click here to explore my coverage.

He died on Thursday at home in New Delhi at age 79.

The Washington Post has published a thorough obituary summarizing his achievements and the controversies that swirled around him late in life.

His family just sent me this statement:

Family, Friends and Colleagues Mourn: Rajendra Pachauri Dies, His Legacy Lives On

Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri (born 20 August 1940), who has been a leading voice on climate change and environment, passed away peacefully in New Delhi at his residence on the evening of 13th February 2020. His courageous leadership allowed climate change to be recognized world over as the most pressing issue confronting the world and launched a new era of international deliberations and actions.

The former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) recently underwent a major cardiac surgery. Before his health deteriorated, he was directing efforts towards two organizations which he recently founded Protect Our Planet Movement and the World Sustainable Development Forum. Preparations were full swing for the Second Edition of the World Sustainable Development Forum which is scheduled to be held in Durango, Mexico in March 2020.

R.K Pachauri was born in Nainital, India. He was educated at La Martiniere College in Lucknow and at the Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering in Jamalpur, Bihar. He belongs to the 1958 Batch of Special Class Railway Apprentices, a prestigious programme which heralded the beginning of mechanical engineering education in India. He began his career with the Indian Railways at the Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi. He joined North Carolina State University in Raleigh, United States, where he obtained an MS in Industrial Engineering in 1972, and a PhD with co-majors in Industrial Engineering and Economics in 1974. His doctoral thesis was on energy demand forecasting.

Dr. Pachauri joined The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) as Director in 1982. His efforts and dedication ensured that TERI grew from a small documentation centre to a multi-dimensional research institute with impeccable reputation over the world. Under his leadership, TERI undertook pioneering work in the field of climate change and sustainable development, with over 1200 employees. Dr. Pachauri was the chairman of IPCC, a post he held from April 2002 until February 2015, during which time the organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. At the Nobel Peace Prize Awards ceremony in Oslo, Norway, Pachauri referenced his belief that the Hindu philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, which means ‘the whole universe is one family’ in the context of international efforts to protect the global commons. He served as Assistant Professor (August 1974 — May 1975) and Visiting Faculty Member (Summer 1976 and 1977) in the Department of Economics and Business at North Carolina State University. He was a Visiting Professor of Resource Economics at the College of Mineral and Energy Resources, West Virginia University. On his return to India, he joined the Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad, as Member Senior Faculty (June 1975 — June 1979) and went on to become Director, Consulting and Applied Research Division (July 1979 — March 1981).

Dr. Pachauri has received the second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, from the Government of India. In January 2008, the President of India awarded him the “Padma Vibhushan”, India’s second highest civilian honor, for his services in the field of science and engineering. He was also bestowed the ‘Officier De La Légion D’Honneur’ by the Government of France in 2006; the ‘Commander of the Order of Leopold II’ by the King of Belgians in July 2009; the ‘Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland’ by the Prime Minister of Finland in February 2010, ‘The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star’ by His Majesty Akihito, Emperor of Japan in April 2010 and Mexican Order of the ‘Aztec Eagle’ by the President of Mexico in June, 2012. In July 2013, he was conferred with the Pico della Mirandola Prize by the Foundation Cassa di Risparmio di Mirandola. Dr. Pachauri has twenty five honorary doctoral degrees and distinguished awards from the various governments.

Dr. Pachauri has been enduring a lot of hardships, mental and physical, unfortunately, his health took a turn for the worse. Dr. Pachauri dedicated his entire life to the cause of environment and sustainable development. His vision to establish Protect Our Planet was that it would be the youth who would be at the forefront of climate ambition and climate action. He envisaged that the World Sustainable Development Forum would serve a constructivist function of deliberations and outreach involving government, political representatives, business sector, celebrities, civil society, youth and thought leaders. The family calls upon well-wishers and like-minded people to support these efforts and help take his vision forward.

#climatechange #ipcc #globalwarming



Andy Revkin

Pursuing progress on a finite planet at @columbia @earthinstitute. The rest? Family, friends, books, songs