UNEP welcomes review of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Statement by Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Response to the Report by the
InterAcademy Council (IAC) on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
UNEP welcomes the independent review of the IAC, requested by the United Nations Secretary General and the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
We will now study the findings and recommendations and look forward to how governments will respond when they meet at the upcoming IPCC plenary in the Republic of Korea in October.
UNEP's initial response to this thorough report, conducted by the leading body representing many of the world's distinguished scientific academies, is that it re-affirms the integrity; the importance and validity of the IPCC's work while recognizing areas for improvement in a rapidly evolving field.
The IAC did not review the fundamental science of climate change but was tasked with reviewing the processes, procedures and management of the IPCC in part to minimize errors as the body moves forward.
As the IAC points out in its preface to today's report, several recent reviews including by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the United States National Research Council—carried out following concern over alleged errors in the 2007 fourth assessment of the IPCC—concluded that the key findings remain unaffected.
The thousands of scientists involved in the fourth assessment of the IPCC concluded that it is over 90 per cent certain that human beings and their activities are contributing to climate change.
The IAC has today outlined a series of recommendations that can strengthen the administration; management, functioning and work of the IPCC, co-hosted by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), as it undertakes its crucial fifth assessment.
These recommendations underscore that the IPCC remains the premier body for undertaking the risk assessment needed in such a complex field where knowledge- especially in respect to likely regional impacts- remains imperfect and where new knowledge is constantly being generated.
Recommendations for strengthening the IPCC cover such areas as how best to support the secretariat up to how best to communicate the complexity of risk in areas such as changes in rainfall patterns.
The IAC's assessment also confirms that lead authors of the IPCC's three working groups are not discounting or dismissing contradictory or competing evidence.
But considers they are reviewing and taking into account all available research in order to provide policy-makers with the best available science, options and opportunities for action.
However the IAC concludes that this process could also be streamlined and improved further in order to meet the challenge of ever growing numbers of climate science research papers and new scientific avenues of investigation and concern.
Today the world needs to draw a line in the sand on the debate as to whether climate change is happening and whether the IPCC offers the best available body for furthering public and political understanding.
There will always be some who, for a variety of reasons including personal and ideological ones prefer to reject or question the overwhelming scientific evidence that has been accumulating before and since the IPCC's first assessment in 1990.
Legitimate or otherwise, these views should not and must not hold back the international community from finding a decisive new agreement that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 'safe' levels and provide the policies, mechanisms and support to assist developing countries adapt.
The IAC's report comes in the wake of a year in which extreme and tragic weather events have occurred in 2010—from the forests fires in Russia to the floods in Pakistan, China, Europe and elsewhere.
These are the kind of extreme weather events in line with the forecasts of the IPCC which, unless climate change is addressed, are likely to become ever more frequent, ever more extreme and more costly.
With the fundamental science underpinning the IPCC's assessment reports not in doubt, and clear recommendations on how to move forward in respect to the administration of the IPCC, the international community must move beyond the current paralysis in developing an effective response.
The UN climate convention meeting in Cancun, Mexico, later in the year, will be the next milestone in testing the resolve of governments to act with foresight and responsibility to meet the challenges and the opportunities from a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy.
For More Information Please Contact: Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media, on Tel: +254 733 632755 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The IAC report can be viewed here: http://www.unep.org/pdf/PressReleases/IAC_IPCC_report_pre-publication_copy.pdf
To download the IAC press release go to: