AR4 WGIII Lead Authors' Responses online – at last!

I reported here on my efforts to get the WGIII Review Editors’ comments back online together with the Lead Authors’ Responses and the Review Editors’ Reports.  I had sent Patrick Matschoss, the head of AR5 WGIII TSU an open letter for him to put to the IPCC Bureau urging an open and transparent process in the Fifth Assessment.  Following the usual pattern I can now report some success but continuing reluctance on the part of the IPCC to be truly open and transparent .

I also want to ask any German speaking CA readers for help to understand the ‘Brandenburg’ legal implementation of the Aarhus Convention, as I think we may have to use it.  I have located an English version of the Brandenburg “Inspection-of-Records and Access-to-Information Act”, here, but on page 3 it indicates that we what need is Part 2: Access-to-Information Acts, Book 2: The Environmental Information Act.  If anyone knows of an English language version for this please post a link. 

Returning to WGIII, you will recall that Dr Matschoss promised on 15 September to get back to me within one or two weeks.  This is his reply received on 12 October.

Dear Mr Holland

Thank you for your letter as of 16 September 2009.

First of all let me convey apologies from Dr. Christ for not having answered to your earlier request. She was away from office for an extended period of time.

As to your requests you can find the AR4 comments on our website at:

According to the IPCC-procedures the comments will be made available after the assessment. Therefore, we do not provide any “guest” login to follow the review process while it is running. Other information is available either via plenary documents (timetables) or via the IPCC-procedures (instructions), available on the website of the IPCC Secretariat:

As the other requests (webcast, review editors’ reports) concern the IPCC as a whole I would have to ask you to address these to the IPCC-Secretariat directly.

Nearly four years after hundreds of Expert Reviewers first gave of their time to submit comments on WGIII drafts of the IPCC Assessment Report, they can see why their professional views were rejected. In the recent words of Dr Pachauri “So it’s a very transparent process”.   Except that we are not allowed to see the Review Editors’ reports unless we write to the Secretariat, who do not answer or even acknowledge their emails.

Why so coy?   Dr Meyer from PBL had said they were just signed forms and that they had sent everything they had to PIK.  If so one more column and few more kilobytes on the PIK website and the job would have been done.  I expect they are anodyne, maybe with the odd miss-dating and scruffy signature, so why not be open and transparent.

I think the answer is that for some time the IPCC Bureau have regarded the Appendix A procedures as their defence shield against the the overarching Principle of openness and transparency, and that if they give an inch we will take a mile.   And so we shall.   Accordingly I replied on 13 October to Dr Matschoss.

Thank you for your email of 12 October 2009.

The release of the Fourth Assessment Working Group 3 Reviewers’ comments with the Lead Authors’ responses is greatly appreciated, and no criticism of you nor PIK was, nor is, intended since you were not responsible for the archiving.

As for your intentions on the Fifth Assessment you are wrong to consider the “IPCC-procedures (instructions)” in isolation to, or as taking precedence over, the “Principles Governing IPCC Work”, to which they are clearly identified as an appendix.   Coincidentally at this time, numerous British Members of Parliament, including our Prime Minister, are presently undergoing a humiliating catharsis for the same lapse in judgement.

The Principle, which by international agreement governs how you and PIK should manage the Working Group 3 Fifth Assessment of Climate Change, is:

The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, etc.

A procedure where the public only see comments and responses a year (or nearer two on the first draft) after they have been submitted is simply not open and transparent.   Nor are confidentiality agreements that preclude Expert Reviewers from disclosing important IPCC correspondence.

The “procedures” described in Appendix A, which you are endeavouring to rely upon in order to deny public access to information, on the most important environmental matter we face, contain no such restrictions.   The procedures do include for providing the 2500, or more, recipients with copies of the drafts and comments during the Assessment and for archiving them afterwards.  These are simply specific procedures, which the Panel felt it was useful to spell out.   The notion of confidentiality is unsustainable for widely distributed documents, which are not intended to be changed, and in fact are not changed subsequently, but are withheld until long after the report they refer to.   The delay in publication serves only to preclude the public right to participation in the IPCC assessment process granted by the Aarhus Convention.

While I know that you are not the initiator of the perverse interpretation of Appendix A Procedures as limiting the Principles, frankly it is unworthy of public servants and is not going to be tolerated by the public in the Fifth Assessment.   The extent to which PIK will or will not inform and involve the public is not ultimately a matter for you or the IPCC, as I indicated in my letter to you.   The fifth preambular clause of Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, which became law within the EU on or before 14 February 2004 states:

On 25 June 1998 the European Community signed the UN/ECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (‘the Aarhus Convention’). Provisions of Community law must be consistent with that Convention with a view to its conclusion by the European Community.

While you and your colleagues may feel it necessary to test the law on this matter the example of the British MPs aught to serve as a caution.   The spectacle of public funds being spent in an effort to avoid disclosure of what turned out to be very embarrassing matters only added to their difficulties.   I would also hope that in the city of Potsdam which is now a regular venue for symposia on Freedom of Information, PIK would want to be seen at the forefront of compliance with Aarhus, rather than fighting it.

Accordingly, I remind you that my request for the AR4 WGIII Review Editors’ Reports was passed to you by Dr Meyer, on 9 September 2009, who indicated that PIK now hold them.   I consider this a request within the meaning of the Directive that should have been answered by PIK within a month, but which you have failed to do.

You have neither confirmed nor denied that you hold the information requested, but referred the matter to an organisation outside the jurisdiction of the European Union.   I find this unacceptable and ask that you reconsider and, if you do hold the information requested, that you email me copies of it.

If you hold the information, and are refusing to disclose it, you must in law explain why and advise me of the process, compliant with the Directive rather than the IPCC, by which I may dispute your decision.

I will let you know what happens


  1. schnoerkelman
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 6:15 AM | Permalink

    The German version is Teil 2: Informationszugangsgesetze Heft 2
    I haven’t been able to locate an English language version (yet).

    • David Holland
      Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 7:17 AM | Permalink

      Re: schnoerkelman (#1),

      Thanks schnoerkelman.
      I have some German neighbors that I might have to bribe.

      Re: Ecotretas (#3),
      Thanks Ecotretas.
      I had not yet looked at pdf properties. Since they had not shown the LAs responses before I guess they just had to convert xls to pdf. But maybe they also had a quick look to be sure no cats were going to get out of any bags and amongst the pigeons.

  2. David Harrington
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 6:19 AM | Permalink

    That will put the cat amongst the pigeons.

  3. Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 6:21 AM | Permalink

    Just to notice that the PDF documents have been recently produced and uploaded to the servers…

    -Produced by “boschp”
    -Produced on ?
    -Uploaded to server on Wed, 07 Oct 2009 12:40:32 GMT

    -Produced by “kuhnigk”
    -Produced on 9/29/2009 17:11:58
    -Uploaded to server on Wed, 07 Oct 2009 13:43:37 GMT

    -Produced by “Nina Schutz”
    -Produced on 10/7/2009 15:25:30
    -Uploaded to server on Wed, 07 Oct 2009 15:22:07 GMT

    -Produced by “daver”
    -Produced on ?
    -Uploaded to server on Wed, 07 Oct 2009 10:58:31 GMT

    -Produced by “meyerl”
    -Produced on ?
    -Uploaded to server on Wed, 07 Oct 2009 10:59:23 GMT

    -Produced by “rivm-er”
    -Produced on 10/12/2009 11:05:28
    -Uploaded to server on Mon, 12 Oct 2009 09:25:44 GMT

  4. Hans Rast
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 8:08 AM | Permalink

    re:#1 this doc. appears to be the Environmental Information version of the FOI law. However this law expired in 2008, they plan to merge it with the general FOI. This was applicable to data from the government institutions of the Land Brandenburg and their advisors. Land Brandenburg is where PIK resides (Potsdam is the capital).
    From page 14 onwards thy show the federal version of this law (no mention of an expiration date here). And to keep the people from asking to many questions it will cost you a few 100 EUROS in most cases to get copies of the data.

    • David Holland
      Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 9:58 AM | Permalink

      Re: Hans Rast (#5),

      Thanks Hans,
      I have noticed costs being mentioned but also seen words like “for free” in my pigeon translation, but the Directive which the law implements says in Article 5(2)

      Public authorities may make a charge for supplying any
      environmental information but such charge shall not exceed a
      reasonable amount.

      The directive also states in Artcle 7(1)

      Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that public authorities organise the environmental information which is relevant to their functions and which is held by or for them, with a view to its active and systematic dissemination to the public, in particular by means of computer telecommunication and/or electronic technology, where available.

      Going back one further step to the Aarhus Convention, which is now incorporated into European law and is what the Directive implements, Article 5(1) states,

      Each Party shall ensure that public authorities possess and update environmental information which is relevant to their functions.

      So they can’t try the don’t ask don’t tell route. Proactive Dissemination is what we want.

      Re: Mailman (#9),

      Not quite. The IPCC process is required by international agreement to be open and transparent. However it has never been by any dictionary definition that I can find.
      What is now published by PIK for the first time is what Lead Authors wrote four years ago in response to the Experts who reviewed their draft of the report.

      I am not a lawyer but if we ended in a legal battle funded by some fairy godmother I believe the Principles Governing IPCC Work would be taken into consideration in deciding what public authortities must put on their website when undertaking IPCC work.

  5. Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

    Good job Steve. Stay on em’. I just spent 20 minutes reading the comments. Interesting.

  6. O Weinzierl
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 8:59 AM | Permalink

    There was an International Symposium “Access to Environmental Information – Freedom of Information in Favour of Environmental Protection?” 18/19 June 2009 in Potsdam

    program and papers (some in english)

    this paper might be relevant, it concerns the EU directive that all member states have to follow

    Click to access Franzone_090509.pdf

  7. Mailman
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 9:21 AM | Permalink


    Sorry for being thick (must be the elevated temps from global warming(tm) :)..but what does this all mean?

    Are you saying that only now are those who write these IPCC papers putting their comments etc online so people can see them?


  8. Hal
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 9:49 AM | Permalink

    Hi Steve
    I am a native German speaker. I am flying to Los Angeles tomorrow from Vienna and will have plenty of time on the plane to translate this.

    It is a very legalese document and I am an engineer, not a lawyer, but I will try my best.

    I should be back online Friday.

    • David Holland
      Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

      Re: Hal (#10),

      Thanks Hal.
      I have now have figured out that the Brandenburg law references the Federal Law.

      This is the what we need to understand. Google translation looks very similar to the UK regulations and if you have the time the most useful thing would be to point to any differences that might catch us out.

      • Hal
        Posted Oct 16, 2009 at 7:40 AM | Permalink

        Re: David Holland (#13),

        Arrived in Los Angeles. 25 deg C is lovely after leaving Vienna in snow flurries.

        I translated the introduction of the Brandenburg Province environmental Freedom of Information Act,Jul 2007 , (It’s still in handwriting, I’ll type it up later), I then read the whole thing and found that it

        1. Primarily references the federal EFOIA 22 Dec 2004 of,
        excepting Sec 6,para 1, 2; Sec 11 thru 14
        2. Specifically includes provincial and municipal entities (section 6)
        3. Cites local reporting requirements (Sec 11) and
        provides a local fee structure (Sec 12-14)
        4. Includes a sunset clause which vacates the act itself as of 31 Dec 2008
        (In anticipation of a reconciliation between the environmental FOIA vs the general FOIA, which have conflicting provisions)

        So I believe the federal EFOIA applies, (which you have in English, right?) and which is similar to the UK one, since both are based on the EU guidelines of 28 Jan 2003.

        I will provide the translation of the introduction soon.

        Meanwhile, if you have any specific questions, just ask.

  9. P Gosselin
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

    I’m American and have been living in Germany for 19 years,
    Translation of the Table of Contents on page 4 of the Informationszugangsgesetze Heft 2 (Information Access Act, Booklet 2) mentioned in No. 1 above as follows:

    Introduction p. 4
    Environmental Informatiuon Act of the State of Brandenburg p. 7
    Fees for the Environmental Informatiuon Act of Brandenburg p. 11
    National Environmental Informatiuon Act p. 14
    Expense Ordinance of the National Environmental Information Act p. 28

    Now what exactly do you need to know?

    • David Holland
      Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

      Re: P Gosselin (#12),
      P Gosselin Thanks
      And for everyone, I am the apprentice here on WordPress and missed that I need to keep looking at the spam filter. I only thought to do it because it caught me.

      However, I do not want to put any one to trouble or expense. I had hoped there might be an official translation lurking about. As in my reply, #13 to Hal, for me the differences from the UK, which should be few, will be enough, should not involve too much work, and might while away a flight.

  10. P Gosselin
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

    Contents of page 14
    Section 1 – General Regulations
    § 1 Purpose of the Act, Scope
    § 2 Definitions
    Section 2 – Information Access through an Application
    § 3 Entitlement to Environmental Info
    § 4 Application and Procedure
    § 5 Rejection of an Application
    § 6 Legal protection
    § 7 Support of Access to Environmental Information
    Section 3 – Grounds for Rejection
    § 8 Protection of Public Interests
    § 9 Protection of Other Interests
    Section 4 – Dessimation of Environmental Information
    § 10 Informing the Public
    § 11 Environmeantal Status Report
    § 12 Fees / Costs
    § 13 Monitoring
    § 14 Infractions

  11. P Gosselin
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 10:18 AM | Permalink

    It would take an awful lot of effort to translate everything with a lead time, and a fee as well. I’m willing to do a little…
    This is legal text. It’s not fun. And my wife would never understand me spending half the night or more…

  12. P Gosselin
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

    I’ve started on Paragraph 4, but I don’t know if someone else in the meantime may have found an English translation from somewhere else. I’d hate to do all the work and find out later it was all for nothing. Any updates from anyone?

  13. P Gosselin
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 10:47 AM | Permalink

    Google translation of legal text?
    Big leap of faith in technology…

  14. David L. Hagen
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

    The search engine nominally has searched 125 billion pages. It brought up:

    FreedomInfo lists numerous documents on: Aarhus + convention

    Happy hunting.

  15. David L. Hagen
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

    The Official European Commission site for: The Aarhus Convention. Note the three major requirements of:
    * Access to Information
    * Public Participation
    * Access to Justice

    Recommend pursuing the “Public Participation” as well as the “Access to Information”.


    The Decision on conclusion of the Aarhus Convention by the EC was adopted on 17 February 2005 [Decision 2005/370/EC]. The EC is a Party to the Convention since May 2005.

    In 2003 two Directives concerning the first and second “pillars” of the Aarhus Convention were adopted; they were to be implemented in the national law of the EU Member States by 14 February and 25 June 2005 respectively:

    * Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC
    o Guidance document for member States’ reporting under Article 9 of Directive 2003/4
    * Directive 2003/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 May 2003 providing for public participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the environment and amending with regard to public participation and access to justice Council Directives 85/337/EEC and 96/61/EC

    Provisions for public participation in environmental decision-making are furthermore to be found in a number of other environmental directives, such as Directive 2001/42/EC of 27 June 2001 on the assessment of certain plans and programmes on the environment (see also the “environmental assessment” homepage) and Directive 2000/60/EC of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (see also the “Water Framework Directive” homepage).

    # The UNECE Aarhus Clearinghouse for Environmental democracy

    # “Your Right to a Healthy Environment: a Simplified Guide to the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters”: A joint publication of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) en fr

    # Commission Decision 2008/401/EC, Euratom of 30 April 2008 amending its Rules of Procedure as regards detailed rules for the application of Regulation (EC) No 1367/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the application of the provisions of the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters to Community institution and bodies.

    This Decision ensures that the General principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission [COM(2002) 704] apply to public participation concerning plans and programme relating to the environment. It assigns also clear responsibilities and decision-making powers to the appropriate bodies or persons within the Commission with respect to the provisions of the Regulation concerning requests for internal review.

    Access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters at Community level – A Practical Guide

    Mr Charles Pirotte
    European Commission
    Environment Directorate-General, “Communication & Governance” Unit
    B-1049 Brussels
    Electronic form for information/documentation requests

    Now to see how the Aarhus Convention applies to the UN and the IPCC.

    • David Holland
      Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

      Re: David L. Hagen (#20),

      David, you say

      Now to see how the Aarhus Convention applies to the UN and the IPCC.

      How about Aarhus Convention Article 3(7)?

      Each Party shall promote the application of the principles of this Convention in international environmental decision-making processes and within the framework of international organizations in matters relating to the environment.

      The various European states, all Aarhus parties, make up a big part of the the IPCC and at the end of 2006 had paid over 22% of the IPCC costs since its inception. If they they wanted to, they could apply considerable pressure to make the IPCC behave as the Aarhus Convention requires.

      However, when Chairman Pachauri asked for submissions on “the Future of the IPCC” in January 2008, not one Aarhus party suggested the IPCC should open itself to public participation and be genuinely open and transparent.

      There is a Compliance Committee for the Aarhus Convention and at some point it may be worth writing to them.

      • David L. Hagen
        Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 7:38 PM | Permalink

        Re: David Holland (#24). Excellent.
        See: Enforceability of the Aarhus Convention – Case Study This case study indicates that NGO’s can bring a case to enforce national legislation under the Aarhus Convention.


        the nature conservation association claimed the infringement of its own rights; specifically its right to participate in development permit procedures (§29 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act [BNatSchG]). As such, this was not a legal action taken by an association to assert substantive environmental interests, but a so-called altruistic legal action by an association.

        In particular, §29 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act (BnatSchG) states that recognised nature conservation associations must be given an opportunity to express their views and have access to the relevant expert reports in development permit procedures for projects which involve impairment of nature and landscapes.

    • David L. Hagen
      Posted Oct 15, 2009 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

      Re: David L. Hagen (#20),
      Request (to EC Aarhus Convention Contact)
      Please direct me to documents and legislation on how the Aarhus Convention is applied to and controlling on the United Nations.

      In particular I am seeking information on how the Aarhus mandates on “Access to Information” and “Public Participation” apply to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In particular,
      1) How is the public to access documents on the preparation of and reviews of IPCC documents being prepared?
      2) How can the public participate in preparation of IPCC documents?

      Thank you for your assistance.
      Generic “Answer” Received
      This mailbox exists as a means of replying to questions about the environmental policy of the European Union so I can only give you information about the EU and the Aarhus Convention. (

      The web site for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention) is at: and its Clearing House is at:

      The web site of the IPCC, which ‘ … reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change…’ ( is at: Information about its organization is at:


      Ann Maher
      Information Centre
      Environment Directorate-General
      European Commission
      N.B. Disclaimer required under the terms and conditions of use of the internet and electronic mail from Commission equipment:
      ‘The views expressed are purely those of the writer and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission.’

  16. David L. Hagen
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 1:47 PM | Permalink

    Public access and participation under the Aarhus convention appears enforceable in Germany. See:
    Enforceability of the Aarhus Convention – Case Study

    A recognised nature conservation association participating in a development permit procedure following the amendment of planning documents, whose request for access to “relevant expert reports” was not fulfilled, sought to annul the issued development permit on the grounds that its participatory rights were infringed and such infringement could not be remedied in a supplementary hearing.
    Relevant Aarhus provisions: Articles 9(1) and (2)
    Key issues
    • Review of denial of access to information
    • Review of public participation in decisions on specific activities
    Ruling: . . .the subsidiary charge — that the development permit was unlawful and not enforceable due to the procedural infringement — was affirmed.

  17. Michael
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 2:06 PM | Permalink

    Here’s the link on recent TV news [snip – sorry, off topic]

  18. David L. Hagen
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    Further links on Aarhus Convention information access and public participation:
    Your Right To A Healthy Environment UN Pub.No.E.06.II.E.9 ISBN 92-1-116943-7
    Handbook on Access to Justice under the Aarhus Convention PDF
    See: Chapter 1: Access to justice in cases involving access to environmental information
    * Failure to respond to an information request p 23
    * Incomplete response p 24
    * Challenges to claims of exemption p 24 “As a general rule, the Aarhus Convention requires that
    exemptions are interpreted in a restrictive way.”
    * Appendix D Important Contacts p 245

    The European Ombudsman

    investigates complaints about maladministration in the institutions and bodies of the European Union. If you are a citizen of a Member State of the Union or reside in a Member State, you can make a complaint to the European Ombudsman. Businesses, associations or other bodies with a registered office in the Union may also complain to the Ombudsman.

    United Nations Ombudsman

    The United Nations Ombudsman’s Office is here to provide assistance on work-related problems to all staff regardless of location,category or type of contract. The Office offers a service that is impartial, objective, neutral, independent and fully confidential.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Oct 15, 2009 at 12:47 AM | Permalink

      Re: David L. Hagen (#23),

      It might be different in other countries, but in some countries a prime but unadvertised purpose of an Ombudsman is to divert pesky inquiries away from the accused, using the guise of semi-legal authority. More simply, don’t rely on an Ombudsman helping you.

  19. Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    I too was concerned to read Dr Pachauri’s comments on Sept 29 so I went to the IPCC site and found they have, in fact, archived the WGI reviewers’ comments, author responses, etc., online at the Harvard College Library. I enquired and on Oct 10, 2009, the library informed me that those comments had been placed in that archive in May 2008.

    In your Sept 16 post you record that the UK Met Office published the WGII lead authors’ responses “before being asked”, and that the WGIII comments are available at the IPCC site.

    So, are all the AR4 review comments now online? I’m a bit confused, since some participants in AR4 and earlier Assessment Reports are still complaining at the lack of publication — not to mention issues of actual editing… err, um, censorship/bad science/unjustified conclusions, etc. which the whole disclosure and transparency thing you’re battling with aims to reveal, challenge and correct.

    Perhaps they’re referring to the first three reports; for they are not yet online, are they? Certainly, I haven’t found them. Can anyone confirm, or give references for them? Or are there important parts missing?

    It’s my intention to confront Dr Pachauri somehow to explain his disingenuous claim of openness, for until comments for all of the Assessment Reports are available the claim is risible.

    • James Erlandson
      Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 4:46 PM | Permalink

      Re: Richard Treadgold (#25), You may find this interesting.
      Cunning IPCC Bureaucrats (Climateaudit, May 21, 2007)

      • Posted Oct 15, 2009 at 4:45 AM | Permalink

        Re: James Erlandson (#26), yes, it is interesting. Thanks for the link. I did read that post but it meant little to me, early in my study of AGW. Now, there’s more context. Although it’s a complex field, as this thread demonstrates! I’ll leave the international legal questions for others and focus on expressing simple disgust and disappointment to the head man.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

      Re: Richard Treadgold (#25),

      Initially IPCC refused to place the WG1 Review Comments online. When I requested them, they said that I would be obliged to travel to Boston and personally photocopy a limited number of pages in limited office hours. CA readers sent FOI requests to NOAA asking for any copies of WG! Review Comments in their possession (NOAA having acted as TSU) and IPCC relented. The WG1 Review Comments were not placed online through their own initiative.

      IPCC has refused to provide the important Review Editor comments. In addition, the UK Met Office has used the fact that IPCC is an international organization to claim an execption from producing Review Editor comments under UK FOI – the “international organization” exemption. IPCC was requested to waive this exemption and refused.

      Not all IPCC Review Comments were submitted through the TSU. Some reviewers circumvented the system by submitting review comments directly to the section authors. Once again, as with the Review Editor comments, UK agencies have refused to produce such comments under UK FOI legislation through the international organization exemption and IPCC has refused to waive this exemption.

      IPCC is not subject to any international FOI law and the international organization relations exemption nullifies national FOI legislation. Until IPCC subjects itself to FOI legislation and announces that it waives the international organization exemption for all member nations, it cannot claim to be “open and transparent”.

      • David L. Hagen
        Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 8:02 PM | Permalink

        Re: Steve McIntyre (#29), and David Holland(#24)
        See: Two Years in the Life: The Pioneering Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee 2004-2006, Marshall, Fiona, International Community Law Review, Volume 8, Number 1, April 2006 , pp. 123-154(32), Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Brill imprint

        The UNECE’s Aarhus Convention is widely considered as a leading light in the area of environmental democracy. Its Compliance Committee is similarly innovative, being the first multilateral environmental agreement to allow members of the public to trigger its compliance procedure. In February 2004 the first case by a member of the public seeking a review of a State Party’s compliance was submitted to the Compliance Committee. Since then a further fifteen cases from members of the public have been received. This paper contains a review of the Compliance Committee’s pioneering work over the last two years. The paper begins with a brief background on the Aarhus Convention. It then describes the structure and modus operandi of the Compliance Committee. The cases brought before the Committee to date are then discussed, including where relevant the Committee’s findings and recommendations and the Meeting of the Parties’ decisions. The paper ends with observations drawn from the Committee’s case work thus far.

        This suggests there may be good prospects to set the case before the Compliance Committee to bring the IPCC into compliance. Probably best by members of the participating countries. See:
        “13. Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, Aarhus, Denmark, 25 June 1998: Participants”

      • Posted Oct 15, 2009 at 4:50 AM | Permalink

        Re: Steve McIntyre (#29).

        Incredible. Arrogant. Short-lived.

        Truth will prevail – thanks for the summary!

  20. kuhnkat
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 6:11 PM | Permalink

    Steve McI,

    Have you hired bodyguards yet???

  21. Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 6:11 PM | Permalink

    Does any one know where the comments and responses for AR4 WGII material are archived?

    If no one knows, perhaps David could turn his considerable talent to locating it. The TSU was based in the UK.

  22. David L. Hagen
    Posted Oct 14, 2009 at 9:14 PM | Permalink

    Steve & David
    I think you could make a good case for submitting the IPCC’s “non-transparency” to the:
    Compliance Committee

    The compliance mechanism may be triggered in four ways: . . .
    (4) members of the public may make communications concerning a Party’s compliance with the convention.

    Communications from the public

    In accordance with the provisions of decision I/7 of the first Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention, the Compliance Mechanism under the Convention is open to communications from the public. The Committee has prepared an information sheet on communications from the public, available in English and Russian.

    ·        In considering any communication from the public, the Compliance Committee will take into account the extent to which any domestic remedy (i.e. review or appeals process) was available to the person making the communication, except where such a remedy would have been unreasonably prolonged or inadequate. Before making a communication to the Committee, the member of the public should consider whether the problem could be resolved by using such appeals mechanisms.

    UNEP Guidelines on Compliance with and Enforcement of Multilateral Environmental Agreements ENG
    The Aarhus Convention was specifically developed by the UNEP.

    1. In its decision 21/27, dated 9 February 2001, the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment
    Programme (UNEP), . . . requested the Executive Director “to continue the preparation of the draft guidelines on compliance with multilateral environmental agreements . . .
    2.Pursuant to that decision, draft guidelines were prepared for submission to the UNEP Governing Council special session for review and adoption. They were adopted in decision SS.VII/4.

    Who can submit a communication?
    Any member of the public, i.e. any natural or legal person, may submit a communication to the
    Committee. A communication may also be filed by a non-governmental organization, including an
    environmental organization or a human rights organization. The person filing the communication –
    hereafter referred to as the communicant – is not required to be a citizen of the State Party concerned,
    or, in the case of an organization, to be based in the State Party concerned.6

    6 Unless the context indicates otherwise, the term ‘State’ should be understood to also cover any regional economic integration organization that is entitled to become a Party to the Convention under its article 19, such as the European Community.

    Potential basis for rejection:

    In accordance with the decision of the Meeting of the Parties, the Committee will not consider any communication that it determines to be: . . .
    (e) Concerning a State which is not a Party to the Convention.

    However, note that the Aarhus Convention is explicitly declared to be:

    The UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters was adopted on 25th June 1998 in the Danish city of Aarhus at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in the ‘Environment for Europe’ process.

    The subject of the Convention goes to the heart of the relationship between people and governments. The Convention is not only an environmental agreement, it is also a Convention about government accountability, transparency and responsiveness.
    * The Aarhus Convention grants the public rights and imposes on Parties and public authorities obligations regarding access to information and public participation and access to justice.
    * The Aarhus Convention is also forging a new process for public participation in the negotiation and implementation of international agreements.

    Since the UNEP developed the convention, prepared guidelines for its implementation, it is a UNECE convention, and the UN is the Secretary, there should be a good case to argue that the UNEP itself should comply with the Aarhus Convention. See the Committee’s guidelines on preparing a submission.

    A. Purpose
    6. The purpose of these guidelines is to assist Governments and secretariats of multilateral environmental agreements, relevant international, regional and subregional organizations, non-governmental organizations, private sector and all other relevant stakeholders in enhancing and supporting compliance with multilateral environmental agreements.
    * B. Scope
    8. … The guidelines encourage effective approaches to compliance, outline strategies and measures to strengthen implementation of multilateral environmental agreements, through relevant laws and regulations, policies and other measures at the national level and guide subregional, regional and international cooperation in this regard.

    * A Purpose
    36 The guidelines can assist Governments, its competent authorities, enforcement agencies, secretariats of multilateral environmental agreements, where appropriate, and other relevant international and regional organizations in developing tools, mechanisms and techniques in this regard.
    * B Scope
    37 . . .These guidelines accord significance to the development of institutional capacities through cooperation and
    coordination among international organizations for increasing the effectiveness of enforcement.. .
    * 41 (j) Public access to environmental information held by Governments and relevant agencies in conformity with national and applicable international law concerning access, transparency and appropriate handling of confidential or protected information;

  23. Ian Castles
    Posted Oct 15, 2009 at 4:18 AM | Permalink

    Congratulations, David Holland, on your thoroughness and persistence, and on another notable achievement in getting IPCC material into the public domain.

    Re John Baltutis, #33: Indur Goklany’s question related to AR4 WGII material, not to the AR4 WGIII drafts, review comments and writing team responses which are now available at the site to which you’ve provided a link, thanks to David’s efforts.

    The WGII drafts, review comments and writing team responses are at

    • David Holland
      Posted Oct 15, 2009 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

      Re: Ian Castles (#35),
      Thank you Ian,
      The link to the new WGII must be recent. I looked when we first realised WGIII had disappeared. It raises a minor point that irks me. Best practice is to put a last revised date on pages.

      Re: Mae (#39),
      Thanks Mae and others. I have struggled a bit to keep up which leaves me wondering how Steve does it.

      I will over the time get to know the differences between the UK and other European regulations, but Aarhus and the Directive are European law and I hope it is not just us dumb Brits that follow the rules. For instance Article 3(5)(b) of the Directive states:

      officials are required to support the public in seeking access
      to information

      Article 3(2) of Aarhus states:

      Each Party shall endeavour to ensure that officials and authorities assist and provide guidance to the public in seeking access to information, in facilitating participation in decision-making and in seeking access to justice in environmental matters.

      The answer to the cost issue has to be to get a court decision somewhere sometime to enforce the Aarhus articles on dissemination and participation. But I know this is not easy. After 18 months I have not yet got CRU to admit that climate change is an environmental matter!

      Re: Henry (#40),
      There is more than a little truth in what you say, but I never thought a certain Big Blue company would loose out to an upstart and I remember a wall that took some getting rid of. Nobody has to fight this battle and shouldn’t if they are looking for a quick victory.

  24. Mae
    Posted Oct 15, 2009 at 1:06 PM | Permalink


    This summary of the three kinds of German information acts (federal, state and environmental – of which there are 17!) also includes a brief comparison to the UK Freedom of Information act and concludes that the main difference lies in the help given to both the person making the request and the person/institution replying. In Germany you are on your own without access to official advice on how to ask for information and what to do if you are not happy with the reply.

    BTW costs are mentioned as follows: the environmental act carries a maximum fee of 500 euros, the other ones 5-25 euros depending on the request. the fee must be reasonable and proportionate and must not prevent the person seeking information from doing so based on financial restraints. Looking at the requested information in situ is always free of charge.

    It also mentions specifically that there is no personal or territorial restriction applied when information is requested under any of the environmental information acts and that they are the only ones out of the 30 in existence where the Aarhus convenion applies.

    Click to access Schomerus_090730_Text.pdf

    Hope this helps!

  25. Posted Oct 15, 2009 at 6:42 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Ian.

    I had been looking for it just the other day but was unable to locate it. Of course, now I don’t remember why.

  26. Ian Castles
    Posted Oct 15, 2009 at 7:16 PM | Permalink

    David (#41) and Goks (#42):

    It is probably not a coincidence that WGII’s AR4 archive has reappeared within days of the publication of David’s related correspondence with the WGIII TSU, as detailed above.

  27. Henry
    Posted Oct 15, 2009 at 7:56 PM | Permalink

    Then kudos to you David Holland I see I’m also in the land of dragon slayers. I pray that your efforts do not resemble Miguel Cervantes’s Don Quixote futile tilling at windmills.


  28. Fred
    Posted Oct 15, 2009 at 10:16 PM | Permalink

    snip – please don’t use this sort of language

  29. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 21, 2009 at 2:39 AM | Permalink

    For David Holland

    Might you please consider sending me your private email. I have some information relevant to your efforts that might be material. Geoff Sherrington sherro1 at optusnet dot com dot au.

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