Finn elected new head of world weather body

4th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

Finnish weather chief Petteri Taalas was Thursday elected as head the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) during its quadrennial congress in Geneva.

Taalas will replace the agency's veteran head, Frenchman Michel Jarraud, who is stepping down next year after three four-year terms, a spokeswoman confirmed.

Taalas is the head of the Finnish Meteorological Institute and has a strong scientific background, with more than 50 publications on climate change and satellite methodologies.

Taalas, who speaks a string of languages, including English, German and French, has been on WMO's executive panel since 2008, and is also a member of the Finnish Science Academy.

His election comes ahead of a key conference in Paris at the end of the year, marking the first attempt to clinch a world-wide deal on global warming since the near-disastrous 2009 UN summit in Copenhagen.

The Paris accord, which would take effect from 2020, would aim at limiting global warming to a maximum of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels.

At the opening of the WHO congress late last month, Jarraud said the UN agency's role would become increasingly important going forward, as "the great majority of natural disasters are related to weather, climate and water".

© 2015 AFP

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