11 June 2010

IPCC: This Time Will be Different (Not), A Guest Post by Richard Tol

Much has been said about the procedures of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But at the end of the day, everything comes down to people. The average IPCC author is smart enough to violate the spirit of any rule while complying with its every letter. The right group of people would produce a sound and honest report even if there were no rules at all.

That is why my submission to the review panel of the Inter Academy Council focuses on the selection of lead authors. The panel will announce its findings at the end of summer – and the IPCC will announce the authors for the Fifth Assessment Report next week.

This is very unfortunate. I think that the IPCC should suspend the AR5 process, fix the procedures for nominating and selecting authors, and postpone the report to 2015. I’d rather bet on New Zealand winning the world cup.

That said, the leaders of Working Group 2 are making an effort. I have been critical of the IPCC. I think that climate change is real, really caused by humans, and a problem that should be solved – but I also think that there are bigger, more urgent environmental problems (let alone other problems) and that the policies put forward by our dear leaders are ineffective, misdirected and needlessly expensive. Nonetheless, WG2 has put me forward as a convening lead author of one of the chapters in AR5.

I tentatively accepted, knowing that this would be a lot of difficult work under immense scrutiny.

Guess what? Although the Irish government nominated me, it will not financially support my participation – not even travel costs – because of … substantive differences over environmental policy.

Political interference in the IPCC continues.