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UN Requests Independent Review of It's Climate Panel

  • Margaret Besheer

The United Nations has asked a leading international scientific organization to review the work of the U.N. climate change panel after critics accused the body of misrepresenting data to make the case that global warming is more serious than it is.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, known as the IPCC, had "a very small number of errors" in its 2007 report. Among them, the study incorrectly warned that global warming would melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035. But Mr. Ban said he has seen no credible evidence that challenges the main conclusions of the 3,000 page report that human activities are contributing significantly to the planet's warming.

"Let me be clear: the threat posed by climate change is real," said Ban Ki-moon. "Nothing that has been alleged or revealed in the media recently alters the fundamental scientific consensus on climate change. Nor does it diminish the unique importance of the IPCC's work."

Mr. Ban said he is initiating, in conjunction with IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, a comprehensive, independent review of the Nobel prize winning-panel's procedures and processes because he wants to act on the best possible science. He also wants to minimize the potential for any errors in future, especially as the IPCC is embarking on a new climate change report.

IPCC Chair, Rajendra Pachauri, has also faced conflict of interest accusations in the international press, over consulting work his New Delhi-based institute has done for big polluters and major corporations. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Speaking alongside the secretary-general at the announcement of the review on Wednesday, Pachauri defended the panel's 2007 report, saying its major conclusions were "beyond any reasonable doubt". But he said he expects the independent review will help strengthen the process of how the IPCC compiles future reports.

"It is critically important that the science we bring into our reports and that we disseminate on a large scale is accepted by communities across the globe, by governments, by business, by civil society, so this challenge, which the Secretary-General has rightly described as defining challenge of our time, can be met effectively," said Rajendra Pachauri.

The Amsterdam-based InterAcademy Council will assemble the review panel and publish their results by the end of August.

Robbert Dijkgraaf, the IAC's co-chairman, told reporters that the panel would recommend measures to ensure the quality of IPCC reports in the future, including how data is used and conclusions are drawn; guidelines for types of literature appropriate for including in IPCC reports; and procedures for correcting errors in reports. They will also look at the management and administration of the IPCC.