A review of the IPCC report into climate change has been announced by the head of the United Nations following high profile criticisms of its accuracy. In order to combat scepticism of the credibility of the report Ban Ki-moon has ordered that the document is reviewed by scientific bodies from across the world.
“We need to ensure full transparency, accuracy and objectivity, and minimise the potential for any errors going forward,” said Ki-moon at the UN headquarters in New York.
The report was produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 and was at the time widely acclaimed for its assessment of the risks of environmental change. The report made substantive claims with regards to the role of humans in instigating global warming and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its conclusions.
However, since its publication it has been dogged by criticisms of inaccuracies. There has been wide spread scepticism at the use of non peer reviewed literature, including a claim that evidence of melting snow on the Alps was effectively based on anecdotal evidence from mountain climbers, and the inclusion of an masters degree level student’s dissertation which used quotes from mountain guides.
Furthermore an embarrassing retraction was made over ‘glaciergate’, after claims in the 3,000 page report that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035, an assertion that was subsequently found to be erroneous.
Ki-moon acknowledged that there had been failings in the report but remained adamant that its core assertions were accurate.
“Regrettably there were a very small number of errors. [But] I have seen no credible evidence that challenges the main conclusions of the report. Let me be clear – the threat posed by climate change is real.”
Ki-moon consequently commissioned a review of the report which will be conducted by the Inter-Academy Council, comprising of bodies such as the Royal Society in Britain.
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, will put together a panel to review the report with the aim of regaining public trust in his claims.
“We’ve been through a very critical period. We’ve learned, we’ve listened and we’ve decided to do something about it. It is important for the public and scientific community to know that we’re sensitive to what happened,” said Pachauri.
The review will not however focus on reassessing previous claims, but focus how mistakes can be avoided in the future.
“The panel will look forward and will definitely not go over all the vast amount of data in climate science. It will see what are the procedures, and how they can be improved, so that we can avoid certain types of errors.”
The panel will consist of a combination IAC and IPCC members, which is handy for the controversial Pachauri, whose own position as head of the IPCC will be under scrutiny in the review.
The independent review will be funded by the UN, with the as yet unannounced panel due to report back. Eventually.