20 October 2009

IPCC Advocate in Chief

The IPCC has a stated mandate to be "policy neutral." In practice its definition of "policy neutrality" is rather loose as it appears to include the lobbying of the U.S. president by the IPCC head, Rajendra Pachauri for policies that he personally favors:
. . . on September 22 President Obama himself spoke at the United Nations when the UN Secretary General had convened an extremely useful meeting on climate change with several world leaders in attendance. . . I had the privilege of addressing the same audience immediately after the speech of the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-moon and just before President Obama. As I left the podium and President Obama was getting ready to walk in I greeted him briefly and asked for 10 minutes of his time, so that, I thought, I may convince him on the need for US leadership in tackling the challenge of climate change, a requirement that he himself has stressed on several occasions. I hope I will be granted this privilege, hopefully before Copenhagen.

The Nobel Peace Prize, particularly on this occasion, is more about expectations and hope than actual achievement. Mr Obama himself has called the award as a call for action rather than for anything that he has already accomplished.

Having stood before the distinguished audience in Oslo alongside Mr Al Gore in December 2007 on behalf of the IPCC I have experienced the enormous weight of responsibility that this award carries. Not only does the Nobel Prize result in demands from a large number of organisations, institutions and individuals for the time and views of the winners of the award, but it also places a huge burden of expectations that go with its dignity and uniqueness.

President Obama would now be under enormous pressure to perform if not for reasons of deep conviction, which in his case are so evident, but also because the world now expects him in essence to justify through results achieved what the award of the Nobel Peace Prize demands.
Is it appropriate for the IPCC head to be engaged in overt political lobbying? If so, what policies should he be lobbying for, since the IPCC itself doesn't discuss specific policies? Is the IPCC an advisory body or an advocacy organization?