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Report Calls for UN Climate Panel Reform

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its chairman Rajendra Pachauri are under fire after the release of the InterAcademy Council’s investigation into IPCC. The report suggests several changes are needed including changes to the IPCC’s managerial structure and its existing review procedures to reduce errors, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The IAC review says that the IPCC has policies in place for fact-checking its reports but  in many cases they were not followed, and recommends “clearer guidelines and stronger mechanisms for enforcing them, reports USA Today.

The report also finds that the process used by IPCC to produce its periodic assessment reports has been successful overall, but IPCC needs to strengthen its procedures to handle larger and increasingly complex climate assessments as well as more intense public scrutiny.

Pachauri told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that the recommendations were in line with reforms he has tried to implement. He also said that neither the most recent report, which didn’t look at the science, or other recent climate-science probes have questioned the IPCC’s overall conclusion about the dangers and causes of climate change.

The IPCC chairman was pressured to request the probe after mistakes were disclosed in an IPCC report that won the panel the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The review also calls for an overhaul of the panel’s management, including the creation of an executive committee that would include people from outside the IPCC, and discusses concerns about Pachauri’s work as an adviser and board member for energy firms, reports Reuters.

The IAC report recommends formal qualifications for the chair and all other Bureau members and the creation of a conflict-of-interest policy to be applied to senior IPCC leadership and all authors, review editors, and staff responsible for report content.

The review said the limit of two six-year terms for the chair of the IPCC, was too long and should be shortened to one term, as should the terms of other senior officials on the U.N. climate panel.

The report also criticizes IPCC’s support of specific policy approaches, which will hurt IPCC’s credibility, reports Reuters.

The IPCC controversy began in November when more than 1,000 hacked emails from a climate-research center at the University of East Anglia were posted online. The emails showed that some climate scientists involved in IPCC reports tried to stop criticism of the conclusion that humans are causing climate change.

In addition, IPCC officials were faced with a factual error in their 2007 report: a projection that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035, which climate scientists say is impossible to project, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The United Nations is concerned that focusing only on errors by the panel could undermine the broader U.N. message that climate change is a real phenomenon requiring urgent action, reports Reuters.

Critics of mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions have said that the IPCC errors show the science behind global warming is questionable, reports Reuters.

The next IPCC report on climate change will be published in 2013 and 2014.

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