pear behind a proxy server

So it turns out that pear (PHP Extention and Application Repository - http://pear.php.net ) completely ignores the $http_proxy environment variable:
hostname:~ # pear install HTML_Template_IT
No releases available for package "pear.php.net/HTML_Template_IT"
Cannot initialize 'channel://pear.php.net/HTML_Template_IT', invalid or missing package file
Package "channel://pear.php.net/HTML_Template_IT" is not valid
install failed


Pear has its own configuration, complete with proxy server setting:

hostname:~ # pear config-show
Configuration (channel pear.php.net):
=====================================
Auto-discover new Channels auto_discover
Default Channel default_channel pear.php.net
HTTP Proxy Server Address http_proxy


So once that is updated with the system proxy server, everything works just fine:
hostname:~ # pear config-set http_proxy $http_proxy
config-set succeeded
hostname:~ # pear install HTML_Template_IT
WARNING: channel "pear.php.net" has updated its protocols, use "channel-update pear.php.net" to update
downloading HTML_Template_IT-1.3.0.tgz ...
Starting to download HTML_Template_IT-1.3.0.tgz (23,309 bytes)
........done: 23,309 bytes
install ok: channel://pear.php.net/HTML_Template_IT-1.3.0


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