Independent body to review controversial UN climate panel

A respected international scientific body will review the United Nations’s Nobel prize-winning climate panel, under fire for errors in a key report on global warming, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday.

Ban told reporters that the Amsterdam-based InterAcademy Council (IAC), which groups presidents of 15 leading science academies, will carry out the task “completely independently of the United Nations”.

Ban, however, defended the work of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose chairperson, Rajendra Pachauri, has been criticised for his stewardship of the body.

Last month, the UN announced it would launch an independent review of the IPCC’s work.

Ban said on Wednesday that the IAC would undertake “a comprehensive, independent review of the IPCC’s procedures and processes” and would make recommendations to improve its future reports.

Robbert Dijkgraaf, an IAC co-chair, meanwhile told reporters that his panel aimed to present its report by the end of August so that governments can consider it ahead of key climate-change meetings late this year.

With Pachauri by his side, Ban defended the overall work of the IPCC, despite what he called “a very small number of errors” in its fourth assessment report.

“I have seen no credible evidence that challenges the main conclusions of that report,” Ban said.

“In recent months we have seen some criticism. We are receptive and sensitive to that and we are doing something about it,” Pachauri told the press.

“It is critically important that the science that we bring into our reports and that we disseminate on a large scale is accepted by communities across the globe,” Pachauri added.

He pledged that an upcoming fifth assessment report by the IPCC would be “stronger and better than anything we have produced in the past”.

Damaged reputation
The IPCC is made up of several thousand scientists tasked with vetting scientific knowledge on climate change and its impacts.

But its reputation was damaged by a warning in a major 2007 report that global warming could melt Himalayan glaciers by 2035, a claim that has been widely discredited and fuelled scepticism in some quarters about mankind’s role in climate change.

International climate negotiators are to meet on April 9 in Bonn to draw up a programme for the rest of the year, looking toward a ministerial-level meeting opening on November 29 in Cancun, Mexico.

The talks would follow up on December’s climate summit in Copenhagen, which reached a controversial last-minute compromise.

Green groups and most scientists say the document adopted in Copenhagen, a limited pact made after China angrily ruled out binding commitments, falls far short of what is necessary to curtail global warming.

The summit set a goal of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius and pledged a total of nearly $30-billion in aid to poor countries by 2012.

But it did not spell out the means for achieving the warming limits, and the emissions pledges were only voluntary.

India on Tuesday said it had decided to formally back the Copenhagen agreement, joining the more than 100 other countries that have already “associated” with it.

“We participated in the negotiations on the Copenhagen Accord and we stand by the accord,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told the Indian parliament.—AFP


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