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Ex-Grenadian minister, engineer, MBA — who is UN’s new climate chief Simon Stiell

Stiell served as senior member in Grenada’s govt for nine years, including five years as environment minister. He has received training as an engineer and also holds an MBA degree.

UN climate chief Simon Stiell
UN climate chief Simon Stiell | Photo: unfccc.int

New Delhi: United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres Tuesday announced the appointment of Simon Stiell, the former environment minister of Grenada, as the new executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

He will succeed Patricia Espinosa of Mexico.

Before becoming a senior member in Grenada’s government, Stiell obtained training as an engineer from London Metropolitan University and the College of North West London. He also has an MBA from the University of Westminster.

From 2013 through June 2022, he served in various capacities for the government of the Caribbean nation. Apart from being the country’s Minister for Climate Resilience and the Environment for five years, he also served as minister for Education and Human Resource Development, Minister of State with responsibility for human resource development and the environment in the past. He was Parliamentary Secretary within the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry and Fisheries and a member of Grenada’s Upper House of Parliament, the Senate, in the capacity of Leader of Government Business.

Career before joining Grenadian govt

Prior to working for the government, he was in the technology sector for 14 years, where he held prominent positions in companies like Nokia and GEC Plessey Telecommunications. In recent years, Stiell has been part of a minority which demands that developed countries increase their efforts to combat climate change and help countries which are most vulnerable to its effects.

In his new role as UN climate chief, he will face the challenge of keeping countries on track to meet international climate goals at a time when geopolitical tensions are high.

One of his first major tasks will be when nations meet for the UN climate summit in Egypt, called Cop27, in less than three months. Almost all participants agreed at last year’s Cop26 summit to focus on cutting greenhouse gas emissions to stay under the prescribed 1.5 degree Celsius temperature limit. The Paris agreement has estimated global temperatures to rise at most 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

However, much has changed since then. Global consensus has weakened after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led to rising gas and food prices, precipitating a cost of living crisis around the world. On the other hand, escalating tensions between the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, China and the US, — most recently over Nancy Peloski’s visit to Taiwan — has led Beijing to withdraw cooperation with the US on climate issues.


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