Lee became an economist focused on energy and the environment after growing up during the “Miracle on the Han River,” South Korea’s rise to prosperity after World War II. When he became IPCC chair in 2015, he pledged an ambitious agenda that included a focus on regional climates and a rethinking of how the group’s conclusions reach every nation.
His management challenge was considerable. The latest report—the first of four that will make up the IPCC’s sixth climate assessment—had 234 authors from 65 countries, plus hundreds more contributors. It ran to almost 4,000 pages and was based on 14,000 research papers, and the authors evaluated 78,000 reviewer comments. For the first time, a dozen briefs accompanied the report, explaining how different regions of the world were changing.