Sunday 25th September 2016                 Change text size:

IPCC report was altered by governments, says author



Martin Nikolaj Bech via flickr

A business professor at Harvard University has claimed that almost 75% of a UN climate report’s section on climate negotiations was deleted on the request of governments’ officials and warned that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) risks losing its “scientific integrity”.

Harvard professor and expert of climate negotiations Robert Stavins has revealed that the third part of the IPCC report on the effects of climate change has been watered down during a meeting in Berlin.

He said that a section of the report on the effectiveness of climate negotiations and talks has been modified. The original draft for instance, criticised the Kyoto protocol treaty for its limited effects on global emissions reductions, but under the pressure of government officials, the part was rewritten in a softer way.

Stavins addressed on his blog the chair and co-chair of the Working Group III, questioning the consequences that the event can have on the credibility of the organisation.

I fully understand that the government representatives were seeking to meet their own responsibilities toward their respective governments by upholding their countries’ interests, but in some cases this turned out to be problematic for the scientific integrity of the IPCC summary for policymakers,” he wrote.

In more than one instance, specific examples or sentences were removed at the will of only one or two countries, because under IPCC rules, the dissent of one country is sufficient to grind the entire approval process to a halt unless and until that country can be appeased.”

Stavins added that the result of this could be “a process that built political credibility by sacrificing scientific integrity” and that the governments should only comment, rather than approve the documents.

The IPCC published the second part of the fifth assessment report back in March, when it warned that climate change will have devastating effects on populations and the global economy by the end of the century, unless investments are directed to low-carbon technologies.

Further reading:

Climate change coverage: what the BBC can learn from MMR

Investments in renewables must increase, warns UN

The IPCC’s stark warning: no nation will be untouched by climate change

A sustainable investment revolution must emerge from the IPCC’s stark warning

Limiting global warming to 2C not enough to avoid dramatic changes in Europe


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