On March 10, 2010, the UN and IPCC commissioned the InterAcademy Council (IAC), the umbrella organisation of all science academies in the world, to “conduct a thorough, independent review of the processes and procedures” followed by the IPCC in preparation of its Assessment Reports.
The request letter is online here signed jointly by Pachauri and Ban ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN. (In contrast, the terms of reference of the secretive Oxburgh inquiry remain undisclosed.)
The request letter didn’t mention the Cimategate letters, noting only that “a very small number of errors have been brought to light” in the Fourth Assessment Report, a document which they described as containing “thousands of peer-reviewed and independent scientific studies“.
An interesting turn of phrase. Peer-reviewed and “independent” scientific studies. I wonder what this means – is this term supposed to encompass NGO pamphlets?
Given the gravity of the global threat posed by climate change, it is vitally important to ensure full confidence in the scientific process underpinning the assessments of the IPCC. Governments and the public at large look to the IPCC as the world’s most authoritative scientific body for assessing climate risk and informing climate policy.
As the IPCC embarks on its Fifth Assessment Report, it is imperative that its work be as accurate, objective, comprehensive and transparent as possible, and that the potential for future errors is minimized. It is vitally important that every step of the assessment process be clear, consistent and comprehensible.
Agreed. Unfortunately, one of the ongoing themes of this blog has been the failure of IPCC to live up to these pious objectives. Climate Audit readers have been aware of IPCC obstruction and non-transparency for some time.
Their acceptance of the UN-IPCC request by the Amsterdam-based InterAcademy Council is online here. The IAC is co-chaired by Robert Dijkgraaf, president of the Dutch National Academy and Lu Yongxiang, president of the Chinese science academy.
In a recent interview, Dijkgraaf was asked:
What about ‘Climategate’, the hacked emails from the British climate institute?
Those emails are not directly related to the work of the IPCC.
It is very tiresome to see one eminent scientist after another make untrue statements, apparently without making any effort to familiarize themselves with the topic on which they are opining. No matter how smart you are, you have to do the work. CRU scientists Jones, Briffa and Osborn were all important IPCC figures (together with Trenberth, Jones was a Coordinating Lead Author of chapter 2 on observations, while while Briffa and Osborn were Lead Authors for the controversial section on thousand-year proxy reconstructions.) Climategate emails in 2005 and 2006 are dominated by correspondence about IPCC activities of CRU’s Jones, Briffa and Osborn. The “trick … to hide the decline” arose in the context of a 1999 IPCC authors’ meeting and the most important manifestation of the “trick” was in the Third and Fourth Assessment Reports.
The Climategate emails provided relevant evidence on how IPCC scientists discharged or failed to discharge their duties to make the IPCC process as open and transparent as possible. Dijkgraaf’s claim that the emails are not “directly related to the work of the IPCC” is untrue and ill-informed. A bad start to this inquiry.
This affair shows how sensitive the issue is and what is at stake. Transparency is paramount. Scientists live in a glass house. The more the impact of knowledge grows, the more important it becomes to make clear how you reached a conclusion. Science often deals with public funding and public institutions. We should serve as an example. There are guidelines as to how a scientist should behave: ethical, honest, professional, open and respectful of the community.
Unfortunately, these pieties continue to be flouted by climate scientists – most recently by the Oxburgh “Report” – a report that not only fails to be “open and respectful of the community”, but whose secretiveness, tricky terms of reference and lack of due diligence is an obvious taunt to CRU critics and targets.