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Monday, January 24, 2011

himalayan debacle calls for change in top un climate body

One glaring erroneous prediction that the Himalayan glaciers could completely melt by 2035 has led to a chaotic debate about whether the top Nobel prize winning climate research body of the United Nation – the Noble Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – should be overhauled.
Discovering the prediction was faulty about four months ago, the UN initiated a review, the finding of which was released on August 30. The review slammed the IPCC and called for a strict change in the Panel’s structure including an appointment of an executive director and said the chairman should become a part-time position and change with every review.
The time limit for officials holding senior positions in the IPCC, including that of chairman, should be shortened to one term, instead of two which has implications for current chairman Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, already in a second six-year term.
It also recommended replacing the top eight officials responsible for producing the UN reports every seven years or so and that the climate panel should make predictions only when solid scientific evidence was in place.
Most pressure is on the chairman of the IPCC, Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, to resign after the review report was presented to the UN following which he has been backed by the his home nation, India, to retain the top position. However, he admitted that the mistakes in the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report and the prediction about Himalayan glacier  had badly damaged the IPCC’s credibility.
The review was jointly requested by Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in March this year after many criticized the 2007 global warming report.
Speaking at a press conference at the United Nations in New York, Dr Rajendra Pachauri said the credibility of IPCC had been challenged, and said the IPCC had realized from the outset that only an exhaustive, impartial and independent review would be acceptable. “We were prepared to accept whatever results were forthcoming. We were determined to gather recommendations that would further the IPCC’s transparency, the accuracy and value of its findings, and minimize the potential for errors,” he said.
However, he said the IPCC is yet to review the findings of the review. “So I am not able to comment on its findings,” he added.
Despite the support of the Indian government, Dr Rajendra Pachauri is still under pressure from all over the world. He insisted the IPCC report’s core assertion that the world is heating up has not been challenged and he condemned what he called posturing in attacks on the climate change body.
He also said that he will stay to implement the changes unless he is dismissed by the representatives of the 194 government who run the IPCC which is most unlikely to happen as heads of organizations are rarely unseated when they are backed by their own governments.
It took four months for the UN to review the prediction and other related errors of the IPCC. The review also examined every aspect of how the IPCC’s periodic climate science assessments were prepared, including the use of non-peer reviewed literature and the reflection of diverse viewpoints. The review also looked into institutional aspects, including management functions as well as the Panel’s procedures for communicating its findings to the public.
It was also made public that the 194 governments which form the IPCC will carefully review the recommendations from the review at a plenary in October and decide what actions to be taken.
Six other independent reviews have looked at various aspects of climate science this year. Of those that examined the quality of the science itself, all of them found that the IPCC’s work had been carried out appropriately.
The review and its recommendations come from a panel made up of 12 experts from 10 countries. The report has also called for the IPCC management to be open to people outside the organizations through the creation of an executive committee that would have external non-executive members. The IPCC’s communications strategy should emphasize transparency and include a plan for rapid but thoughtful response to crises, and strictly called for a clear policy guidelines to adjudge conflict of interest of panel members holding outside positions.
No comprehensive study has been done to understand impacts of climate change on the Himalayan region which provide water to more than a billion people in Asia caused unnecessary panic in the region.

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