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Yvo de Boer Resigns As UN Climate Chief

February 18, 2010

Yvo de Boer, head of the UN’s climate change convention, announced on Thursday that he would resign from his position as of July 1, AFP reported.

The UNFCCC secretariat said De Boer, who is the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, would join the consultancy group KPMG as global advisor on climate and sustainability and work with a number of universities.

It has been nearly two months since the Copenhagen summit on climate change and even its supporters considered the summit a disappointment.

The UNFCCC, an offshoot of the 1992 Rio summit, gathers 194 nations in the search for combating the causes of man-made climate change and easing its effects.

The Kyoto Protocol, the only international treaty that requires curbs in heat-stoking greenhouse gases blamed for disrupting the climate system, was considered to be the UNFCCC’s key achievement.

De Boer said in a statement that it had been a “difficult decision” to step down.

“I believe the time is ripe for me to take on a new challenge, working on climate and sustainability with the private sector and academia,” he said.

He felt that Copenhagen did not provide nations with a clear agreement in legal terms, but the “political commitment and sense of direction toward a low-emissions world are overwhelming”.

“This calls for new partnerships with the business sector and I now have the chance to help make this happen,” he added.

De Boer was appointed the UNFCCC’s executive secretary in September 2006. He had pinned hopes on a breakthrough in Copenhagen that would unlock a new treaty on climate change that would take effect after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol’s current pledges expire.

However, with almost two weeks of talks, the summit was only able to yield a general agreement on limiting warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

But the means for achieving that goal were never clearly defined, and the pledges made under it are only voluntary.

The document did not gain approval at a plenary session of the UNFCCC, and it has so far failed to gain the official endorsement of major developing emitters that helped to craft it.

Before accepting his post with the UNFCCC, de Boer was involved in European Union environmental policy in his role with the Dutch Environment Ministry. He also served as vice-chair of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.

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