Unfortunately, IPCC seems far more concerned about secrecy than in requiring its contributors to archive data. I received another request to remove discussion of IPCC draft reports. On this issue, David Appell and I are in full agreement – see David Appell’s collection of ZOD chapters here. (Jan 30 Update – see below.)
IPCC’s most recent request was as follows:
From: IPCC WGI TSU On Behalf Of Pauline Midgley
Sent: January-24-12 8:54 AM
To: Stephen McIntyre
Cc: ‘IPCC WGI TSU’
Subject: WGI AR5 FOD
Dear Mr McIntyre,
In a recent thread on the blog that you host, Climate Audit, you quote text and a figure directly from the WGI AR5 First Order Draft. We would remind you that each page of this document is clearly marked “Do not cite, quote or distribute”. Therefore, we kindly request you to remove this text and figure from your blog and refrain from such actions, which do not respect the terms of the IPCC review process.
Scientific comments and criticisms on the WGI AR5 FOD are encouraged and welcomed from experts in the topics being assessed. In order for the authors of the chapters to take into account, and respond to, these comments in drafting the Second Order Draft, they must be made through the appropriate channel. This requires registration as an expert reviewer and uploading the review comments on the WGI AR5 FOD before 10 February 2012.
Please refer to the WGI web site for more information about the WGI AR5 FOD review: https://fod.ipcc.unibe.ch/registration.
All review comments and the author responses will be published on an IPCC web site as soon as possible following the completion of the WGI AR5. For more information about the AR5 review in general, please see the IPCC web site: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ar5/review_of_wg_contributions.pdf.
As mentioned in our email to you of 16 December 2011, in order to have access to the Chapters and to submit review comments for consideration by the authors, all prospective expert reviewers of the WGI AR5 FOD are required to agree to the terms of the review, which specify that all materials provided for the review, including the chapter drafts, are considered confidential and shall not be cited, quoted or distributed. This is the standard IPCC practice in the preparation of its reports.
Thank you for your cooperation.
IPCC WG1 TSU
I responded today as follows:
Dear Ms Midgley,
This is to acknowledge your email of January 24, 2012 in which you “kindly requested” that I remove a discussion of IPCC from Climate Audit. In order for me to properly consider your request, I would appreciate it if you would clarify the legal basis, if any, of this request.
For many years, IPCC policies have stated that the review process should be “open” and “transparent” and my comments were very much in that spirit.
The recent review of IPCC policies and procedures by the InterAcademy Council did not contain any recommendations that the review process be less open or less transparent. I realize that Thomas Stocker, following suggestions of Phil Jones, sought changes to IPCC policies to authorize confidentiality, rather than openness, and that the minutes of the IPCC plenary session in Abu Dhabi state that the following language was approved:
IPCC considers its draft reports, prior to acceptance, to be pre-decisional, provided in confidence to reviewers, and not for public distribution, quotation or citation.
However, this change was deceptively included in a package described as “addressing” IAC recommendations, even though this language had nothing to do with IAC recommendations, but was designed to implement changes sought by Phil Jones and Thomas Stocker long before the IAC review. (See discussion at Climate Audit entitled Stocker’s Earmarks http://climateaudit.org/2012/01/12/stockers-earmarks/ .) Because IPCC officials seem to have misled the IPCC plenary session on the purpose of this language, it seems to me that you lack any moral authority to insist that reviewers comply with your request.
Nor am I aware of any legal authority or case law under Canadian or international law that entitles you to require me to remove the discussion at Climate Audit. Although I registered as a reviewer of the First Draft, I have not downloaded any documents from IPCC in that capacity and did not agree to any confidentiality terms in order to download documents. Nor do I intend to agree to any confidentiality terms as a condition of downloading.
Nor, as I understand matters, does IPCC’s adoption of the resolution saying that “IPCC considers its draft reports, prior to acceptance, to be pre-decisional, provided in confidence to reviewers, and not for public distribution, quotation or citation” create an obligation under Canadian or international law that requires me to comply with your request to remove discussion of IPCC drafts from Climate Audit.
It is my understanding that your email only asked politely that I remove the discussion and did not constitute a formal legal demand that I do so. Unless I am obligated under either Canadian or international law to remove the discussion from Climate Audit, I would prefer not to remove the discussion.
If I am incorrect in my interpretation of your email and it is your view that I am obligated under either Canadian or international law to comply with your request, I would appreciate it if you would explain the basis of your legal theory. I will promptly consider your explanation. Please do not consider this email as an unconditional refusal of your request, but an invitation to you to explain the legal basis of your request under Canadian or international law so that I can take the matter up with my own legal counsel.
While I understand that you are not obliged to take notice of articles posted at Climate Audit, I am very familiar with issues involved in proxy reconstructions. My hope is that the discussion at Climate Audit will contribute to a better understanding of proxy reconstructions, even by IPCC contributors. As I understand it, there are no IPCC rules that prohibit IPCC contributors from taking note of articles at Climate Audit nor any authority for you to discourage IPCC contributors from doing so, should they be so inclined.
Jan 30 Update:
IPCC sent me the following response:
Dear Mr McIntyre
Thank you for your email of 26 January addressed to Dr. Midgley. As has been standard practice and is stated in the Procedures of IPCC, to which we have to adhere in our work for the WGI contribution to AR5, IPCC draft reports that are made available for expert review are done so under the conditions marked on every page: “Do Not Cite, Quote or Distribute”.
In order to be sure that the authors see, consider and respond to your valuable comments on these drafts, they must be submitted through the mechanism provided at the WGI web site. This site will be used by all expert reviewers, over 1500 of whom have duly registered.
Thank you for your attention and your interest in IPCC WGI AR5.
IPCC WGI TSU
As happens far too often in climate science, rather than answering my question, they simply re-iterated their original demand.