His departure as executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change after four years follows the tumultuous international climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.
The summit produced a very limited, nonbinding accord on global warming that fell far short of what many nations and advocates had hoped and left big questions about the future of U.N.-brokered efforts to craft a binding global treaty to curb heat-trapping emissions.
De Boer is joining the consulting company KPMG, where he’ll work on climate and sustainability. He also plans to work with several universities.
"Working with my colleagues at the UNFCCC Secretariat in support of the climate change negotiations has been a tremendous experience,” de Boer said in a prepared statement. "It was a difficult decision to make, but 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 added: “I have always maintained that while governments provide the necessary policy framework, the real solutions must come from business. Copenhagen did not provide us 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.”
De Boer said that he would help international negotiations push ahead in coming months ahead of the next big U.N. climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, in November. It remains unclear if nations will be able to craft a final, binding agreement.