UN environment chief defends IPCC, slams climate sceptics

Last Updated: Monday, February 8, 2010 - 13:53

United Nations: The UN environment chief has
come out in strong support of the embattled climate change
panel led by RK Pachauri, hitting out at sceptics whose
criticism of the body and its Indian chair, he said, had
reached "witch-hunting proportions".

Contending that a "typographical error" was at the root
of the glacier error, Achim Steiner said: "The IPCC is as
fallible as the human beings that comprise it".

The 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change erroneously claimed that the Himalayan glaciers would
melt away by 2035.

One original source of the IPCC report, he mentioned, had
spoken of the world`s glaciers melting by 2350, and not 2035
as came out in it, terming it a "typographical error".

The head of the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) criticised the pundits and media who were rejecting the
reality of climate change blaming them for causing confusion
among the public.

"Some strident voices are even dismissing climate change
as a hoax on a par with the Y2K computer bug," he wrote in an
op-ed piece of the Turkish national daily, Today`s Zaman.

"As a result, public has become increasingly bewildered
as unremitting questioning of the IPCC and its chair assumes
almost witch-hunting proportions in some quarters," he added.

"Indeed, caution rather than sensation has been the
panel`s watchword throughout its existence," Steiner wrote,
defending the IPCC.

"Some in the media, and those who are sceptical about
climate change, are currently having a field day, parsing
every comma and cough in the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change`s (IPCC) 2007 assessment," Steiner noted.

He underlined that IPCC was not "sensationalist" and its
body of work had documented the course of climate change from
its first assessment in 1990, and had often invited criticism
for being too "conservative" in its predictions.

"Rather than undermine IPCC`s work, we should renew and
redouble our efforts to support its mammoth task in assembling
the science and knowledge for its fifth assessment in 2014".

In 2007, the IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize with
environmentalist Al Gore.

While admitting that the credibility of the IPCC had been
damaged because of the errors, Pachauri had recently refused
to resign. "You can`t expect me to be personally responsible
for every word in a 3,000-page report," the scientist said.

"The IPCC is as fallible as the human beings that
comprise it," Steiner wrote. "But it remains without doubt the
best and most solid foundation we have for a community of more
than 190 nations to make these most critical current and
future global choices".


First Published: Monday, February 8, 2010 - 13:53

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