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UN Climate Change Chief Stepping Down

Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (file photo)

The United Nation's top climate change official unexpectedly announced his resignation Thursday. Yvo de Boer says he will step down July 1 to pursue work in the private sector and academia. News of his resignation was met with regret.

Yvo de Boer's resignation comes less than two months after a U.N. climate change summit ended in Copenhagen without any clear deals on global emissions targets.

Marie Okabe, a spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said the U.N. chief regretted de Boer's decision to resign as head of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). "Mr. de Boer informed the Secretary-General in advance of his decision and the Secretary-General, with regret, respected his decision," said Okabe.

For the past four years, de Boer has led the U.N.'s efforts to get a global agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions an average of five percent. That effort was supposed to culminate in a legally binding agreement last December at the Copenhagen climate conference.

Instead, the summit, which drew 120 world leaders, fell short, with little more than vague promises by several countries to limit their carbon emissions. Countries are to meet again at the end of this year in Mexico for another try at a treaty.

Speaking in Bonn, Germany, where the UNFCCC is located, de Boer said it was a "difficult decision" to step down, but said he has always maintained "that while governments provide the necessary policy framework, the real solutions must come from business." De Boer will be joining the consultancy group KPMG as a global adviser on climate and sustainability and will work with a number of universities.

The Secretary-General's top climate advisor, Janos Pasztor, said since de Boer will not leave his post till July 1, it would allow Mr. Ban ample time to appoint a successor ahead of the Mexico meeting, without negatively affecting negotiations ahead of the conference.