Review of Climate Panel Aims for Summer Release

Eli is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine.

Yesterday the United Nations announced that a panel of scientists appointed by a global coalition of national science academies would launch an investigation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Speaking to reporters, Robbert Dijkgraaf, a Dutch mathematical physicist who co-chairs the InterAcademy Council, explained the outlines of the plan, but few details were available.

Dijkgraaf’s group, which represents 15 nations' national academies of science, said the review would include a close look at IPCC's procedures for assuring quality of data in its reports, the kind of literature used in its assessments, its review procedures, and ways it might publicize errors found in the future. In addition, Dijkgraaf said the review would look at IPCC's leadership structure, including issues about transparency and how it conducts its affairs. No members of the review panel have been named, although Dijkgraaf said he aimed to complete the report by August—a very quick turnaround for the National Academies.

Facing reporters at the UN headquarters in New York City, Dijkgraaf ducked questions about IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri’s leadership or the contents of e-mails at the University of East Anglia last fall. The review would be "really forward-looking," he said, suggesting that IPCC could "implement even better procedures for the next report," expected in 2014.

And Pachauri? “We are receptive,” he said. “This review will help us strengthen the process.”

“Nothing that has been alleged or revealed in the media recently [about the IPCC] alters the fundamental scientific consensus on climate change,” added UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “The threat posed by climate change is real.”

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