UN Climate Change Panel to Adopt New Procedures, Quality Guidelines

glacial mass balance, chart, Global Warming Art project

Members of the Intergovernmental  Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), at a meeting this past week in Abu Dhabi during their annual conference, have announced adoption of new procedures to address questions of conflicts of interest, data analysis errors, and other policy procedures.

The member report comes in the wake of the 2009 “data scandal” at the UK-based University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (the researchers at the Climate Research Unit have been since cleared of any scientific misconduct, in four separate investigations), and more recently, in response to recommendations  submitted by the InterAcademy Council, an international group of representatives from top science academies. However, a press release from the May 10 session by Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, also notes: “The Committee could not address every issue of importance to the IPCC assessment process. ”

The report gives the IPCC a mostly good grading, but noted the need of certain reforms in its management and in the way it deals with complex climate data. The report also notes increased public scrutiny (of late) and one gets the sense that this came as somewhat of a surprise to the panel. Quoting from the report:

[finding that the IPCC was] “…successful overall, but [that] IPCC needs to fundamentally reform its management structure and strengthen its procedures to handle ever larger and increasingly complex climate assessments as well as the more intense public scrutiny.”

In an attempt to deal more effectively with press attention/coverage, the IPCC website has expanded its press information offerings including links to scientific research sites (see page link below).

The initial, proposed procedural modifications were actually made to the IPCC last year, with the panel “agreeing in principle” to most of them. In March of 2010, the panel created several working groups to work out the details as to how best to implement the changes. In a series of meetings which ended this past week in Abu Dhabi (“IPCC 33”), member scientists finalized the changes/recommendations made by the working groups.

All of this comes as the IPCC is gearing up for its 5th Assessment Report(s) which will be published in 2013 and 2014.  The improvements are vital to insure that this report is of the highest scientific quality and beyond credible reproach.

Also announced at the conference: the IPCC’s completion of a Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. This latter report may prove equally as influential in terms of its potential to influence national climate policy and governmental investment in renewable energy resource development.

To review other press releases and reports, visit the IPCC Press Page.

Top chart: Robert A. Rohde from published data and is part of the Global Warming Art project.

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