On August 3, I discussed the progress of David Holland’s efforts to overcome obstruction by the University of East Anglia and the IPCC to a request under UK Freedom of Information legislation for a secret letter from Thomas Stocker to, among others, lead authors of IPCC AR4. I observed that many of the recipients of the letter “worked for US, Canadian and Australian federal agencies and universities, offering other possible routes for obtaining the letter if IPCC wants to do things the hard way.”
Chris Horner noticed the post and promptly submitted an FOI request to NOAA for any such emails received by Thomas Peterson (a Climategate correspondent). Today, NOAA released the letter, together with a covering email.
CA readers will recall that Thomas Stocker issued dire threats to UK authorities that IPCC would retaliate against UK scientists if the UK released the IPCC letter.
The IPCC threat was subsequently cited in an ICO decision on a different matter, then in a submission by Universities UK to a Parliamentary Committee and then in the report of the Parliamentary Committee (see review here).
The next question: the IPCC said that it would “reconsider” relations with UK scientists if the secret letter were released. Will the IPCC now “reconsider” relations with US scientists now that NOAA has released the secret letter? Or was the threat limited to the UK where UEA employees had previously solicited Stocker’s assistance in obstructing UK FOI legislation? Is there any principle under which IPCC threatens UK scientists, but not US scientists?
The letter sets out IPCC position in the wake of Climategate, with Stocker reassuring AR4 authors that AR5 would be as “effective as possible while at the same time emphasizing the robustness of AR4 findings”. The letter itself does not justify the elaborate tactics that IPCC used to keep the letter secret. Someone should ask Stocker to explain his threats.
Update Oct 5. I sent the following letter to IPCC in light of the US decision:
Subject: IPCC Threats
Dear Ms Christ,
On several occasions, the co-chairs of IPCC Working Group I issued threats to institutions in the United Kingdom that disclosure of IPCC correspondence would “force [IPCC] to reconsider our working arrangements with those experts who have been selected for an active role in WGI AR5 from your institution and others in the UK”. The IPCC threat was recently cited in a report by the Parliamentary Justice Committee in the UK in hearings on the Freedom of Information Act. See http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmjust/96/9610.htm#note369).
Recently, an agency of the US government released the same letter under U.S. Freedom of Information Act. Would you please advise me whether (and when) the IPCC plans to reconsider working arrangements with U.S. scientists because of the release of this letter? Or is the IPCC unwilling to apply the same sanctions to the U.S. that it threatened the U.K.? If so, is this on a principled basis?
Your previous threat letters were cited in an decision by the UK Information Commissioner. If, on reflection, IPCC has re-considered its previous threats and no longer contemplates retaliation, you should so notify the UK Information Commissioner, Universities UK, the Parliamentary Justice Committee and the University of East Anglia.