IPCC Sabotages an Interacademy Recommendation

In the wake of Climategate, IPCC was more or less forced to establish a review of its procedures, carried out by the Interacademy Panel. One of its key recommendations was on conflict of interest – more on this later. A related recommendation called for the formation of an Executive Committee, with at least 3 members not being IPCC insiders:

The IPCC should establish an Executive Committee to act on its behalf between Plenary sessions. The membership of the Committee should include the IPCC Chair, the Working Group Co-Chairs, the senior member of the Secretariat, and 3 independent members, including some from outside of the climate community. Members would be elected by the Plenary and serve until their successors are in place.

A pretty sensible and long overdue recommendation. Independent board members are commonplace in far less prominent organizations.

In researching the conflict of interest policy, I noticed that even this mild recommendation was sabotaged by the IPCC. Here is the resolution on governance passed at the recent 33rd session in Abu Dhabi:

2.3.3 The Composition of the Executive Committee will be as follows:
a. Members:
IPCC Chair (who will chair the Executive Committee)
IPCC Co-Chairs of Working Groups I, II and III and of the Task Force on Inventories
IPCC Vice Chairs

b. Advisory Members:
Head of Secretariat
The four Heads of the Technical Support Units

No independent members on the Executive Committee. Instead of independent members, including ones not from the climate community, staff members will serve as ‘advisory members’.


  1. TAC
    Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 10:27 AM | Permalink

    Steve, when the IPCC calls — and they will, eventually — I hope you accept their offer to head it up.

  2. Mike Jackson
    Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 10:30 AM | Permalink

    I think “f*** you!” sums that up fairly well.
    As you’ve pointed out before, Steve, far less important organisations than this would appoint outside members, non-executive directors, whatever.
    In normal times the overseer of this organisation (UN and national governments) would demand compliance with the IAP’s recommendations, else what was the purpose of the investigation in the first place?
    Anyone care to defend this decision?

    • Ian_UK
      Posted Jun 19, 2011 at 2:51 AM | Permalink

      If the performance of non-exec directors of UK FTSE companies (esp. banks) is anything to go by, it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference if they did comply with the recommendation.

  3. Joe Crawford
    Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 10:33 AM | Permalink

    A bureaucracy, especially one with the IPCC’s international exposure and access, isn’t going to freely relinquish any of its power and control based simply on the recommendations of some committee. The only way that will happen is through a forced reorganization. “Yes Prime Minister, I’d be more that happy for you to consolidate the Civil Service under the Secretary of Treasury”… sure!

  4. tetris
    Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 11:25 AM | Permalink

    Nothing much is likely to change in the IPCC`s entrenched orhanizational behaviour unless and until governments in a number of countries publicly take steps to defund it. The alternative might be for other countries to openly join India, which has been openly critical the IPCC`s findings, methods and motives for some time now.

  5. kim
    Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

    I believe China would be as vociferous as India, but for their desire to soak the more industrialized for reparations over this ‘Precious Conceit of a Western Elite’.

  6. justbeau
    Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

    Given the importance of the IPCC’s urgent mission to save the Earth, it does not have time to waste by operating in a prudent and sensible way.

  7. PaddikJ
    Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 12:21 PM | Permalink

    Who/what does the IPCC answer to? Who/What holds the purse strings?

  8. Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

    Judith Curry has recently posted on her blog about a Richard Toll paper on the “IPCC knowledge monopoly.” See http://judithcurry.com/2011/06/16/ipcc-as-a-knowledge-monopoly/

    Toll is rightly critical of the monopoly position the IPCC currently holds in the international community. His ideas are to “regulate” it or create competition. Toll’s ideas about competition are somewhat similar to mine. Dr. Curry was also kind enough to mention my proposal which can be found here:


    The question is which entity will lead the competitive assessment of climate science? I think the Interacademy Council is in a good position to do, especially since the IPCC has ignored their recommendations.

  9. Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 8:16 PM | Permalink

    The 44-member IPCC Bureau is where the power resides in that organization. It is, in principle, subject to oversight by the 195 country-appointed delegates of the Panel itself, but the oversight is virtually non-existent. It is a bloated rubber stamp body.

    The IAC’s recommendation to create an Executive Council was incredibly naive. Maybe they thought it would speed up the process of responding to errors and controversies by creating an executive body that would act on behalf of the Panel in an expeditious fashion. But the Bureau proposed a composition of the Executive Council that almost exactly overlaps with the Bureau itself, so when the Panel approved the “reform” recommendation they gave the Bureau even more power, making them able to act on behalf of the Panel rather than under its oversight.

    • Posted Jun 18, 2011 at 11:28 PM | Permalink

      Okay, but they made some good recommendations too.

      • tetris
        Posted Jun 20, 2011 at 11:48 AM | Permalink

        Care to provide an exhaustive list?

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