Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Missing Documents, Unfulfilled Promises

The InterAcademy Council has been promising since August to release documents associated with its examination of the IPCC. There’s still no sign of them.

On August 30, an evaluation of the policies and procedures of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released. Prepared by the InterAcademy Council – which represents international science organizations – this report officially revoked the IPCC’s halo.

All those claims regarding IPCC transparency, scholarly rigour, and peer-reviewed sources dutifully repeated by the media were shown to be highly suspect. (See my blog post from that time. An updated version of the report, now consisting of 123 pages, is available here.)

We learned that just because the IPCC has policies doesn’t mean those policies are enforced. We learned that sensible people agree with climate skeptics that an organization as important as the IPCC should have conflict-of-interest guidelines. We learned that, even if the IPCC were to follow its internal review procedures to the letter, a genuinely independent review process would still not be achieved.

For an organization accustomed to an easy ride, this report was harsh medicine. For those of us who are critics of the IPCC, it was a breath of fresh air. It’s therefore regrettable that the InterAcademy Council (IAC) has yet to follow through on its promise to make public the hundreds of submissions it received during the public consultation period.

Hilary Ostrov has written a detailed blog post about her attempts to gain access to these submissions. She was first assured, on August 31st, that they would be available “soon.” She was told the same thing on October 12th. When she inquired again on November 26th (and then on December 9th), no one bothered to respond.

For reasons that are not clear to me, the IAC feels the names of those who made submissions to the IAC should be removed prior to these documents being made public – despite the fact that the report lists these names on pages 100-104. Presumably, it is this task that accounts for the delay. But surely this is a straightforward matter that can be accomplished by a modestly-paid student.

The final version of the IAC report, which I hadn’t yet looked at, contains some new and startling information. (It is dated October 2010 and has replaced the earlier version previously uploaded to the identical web address.) According to page iv, the four-month-long review that produced the IAC report received non-disclosed amounts of funding from the governments of:

  • Denmark
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • the UK
  • and the USA

That is in addition to an undisclosed amount contributed by the UN’s World Meteorological Association and – here’s the punchline – a full $950,000 from the United Nations Environment Programme.

My goodness, that’s an awful lot of money. The size of that budget makes this delay difficult to understand.

More than 100 days have come and gone since Ostrov was first told these documents would be available soon. I mean, how hard can it be?


UPDATE: The comments have now been made public – see here

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