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UN panel admits new error in key climate report

Last Updated: Monday, February 15, 2010 - 09:47

Geneva: The UN climate change panel has admitted to having imprecisely stated in a key report that 55 percent of The Netherlands is under sea level, saying that is only the area at risk of flooding.

The Dutch government this month asked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to explain the figure, used in a landmark 2007 report, saying its numbers were that only 26 percent of the country is below sea level.

It was a new embarrassment for the panel. The same 938-page Fourth Assessment Report also contained an erroneous claim that global warming could melt Himalayan glaciers by 2035.

The IPCC admitted in a note sent on Sunday that the 55 percent figure was actually the portion of The Netherlands "at risk of being flooded". It insisted that the imprecision did not affect the conclusions of the report.

The figure had been used in various publications to mean "either the area below the highest sea-level reached during storms, or the total area of the country that is prone to flooding from the sea and rivers," the note said.

"Therefore, a preliminary analysis suggests that the sentence discussed should end with: `because 55 percent of The Netherlands is at risk of flooding`."

The panel said the figure had been supplied by a Dutch government agency.

Dutch environment ministry spokesman Trimo Vallaart told AFP on February 5 that the figure used by the IPCC included the area below sea level -- 26 percent -- and the area threatened by river flooding -- 29 percent.
The error about Himalayan glaciers -- which is being withdrawn -- spurred fierce criticism of the IPCC with the controversy has giving fresh ammunition to climate sceptics.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, February 15, 2010 - 09:47
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