Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has been watching the climate world since 2009. What she sees isn't pretty.

UN Employees as IPCC Authors

The IPCC’s Chapter 7 was not written by neutral, dispassionate scholars. Three UN employees are among its authors.


I’ve been writing about problems in Chapter 7 of the report due to be released soon by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A leaked copy of that chapter can be downloaded here.

I’ve observed that a research paper the IPCC says sheds light on the damage insects do to crops doesn’t actually discuss that topic. I’ve noted that several papers cited in Chapter 7 weren’t published via a circumspect process, but demonstrate conflict-of-interest on the part of Chapter 7 lead author Andrew Challinor.

But the problems don’t end there. Chapter 7 has eight lead authors, two coordinating lead authors (chapter heads), and 10 contributing authors. That makes 20 authors altogether. So why are three of these individuals United Nations employees?

This, too, is a conflict-of-interest. People who rely on the UN for their paycheque are not independent experts. They can be expected to see the world the way the UN does. This makes it unseemly for them to be involved in what is supposed to be a neutral scientific assessment.

Kevern Cochrane is an IPCC Chapter 7 lead author. Is he a careful, conservative climate scientist? Hardly. In 2009, he was identified in a media release issued by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (the FAO) as an official with their Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. Here’s what that release says:

Our aim here is to ensure that climate change negotiators and decision makers in their deliberations don’t forget our freshwaters, seas and oceans and those who depend on them,” said Kevern Cochrane of FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. “They must address these aquatic environments and the fishing, aquaculture and other coastal communities whose livelihoods and even survival will be threatened by climate change.  Through their decisions and actions, they need to avoid policies that would damage already stressed aquatic resources and human lives and, instead, implement measures that take full advantage of the environmental and food security services that healthy aquatic resources offer.” [bold added; release backed up here]

Cochrane, as an employee of the FAO, has long had an agenda. That agenda is to influence climate change negotiators and decision makers. This man has firm opinions about what must be addressed and what policies need to be avoided. He is the furthest thing from a dispassionate scholar.

Nancy McCarthy, an IPCC Chapter 7 contributing author, is an economist with a law degree. According to this website, she is president of LEAD Analytics, a US-based consulting firm. But she also has an FAO e-mail address – and a paper prepared for an April 2013 conference provides the FAO as her affiliation.

The above-mentioned conference document, co-authored by McCarthy, begins this way:

In this paper, we focus on the issue of how climate change affects the way that agricultural systems and the people that manage and govern them need to change in the next 20 years in order to achieve food security… [bold added]

People who declare that other people need to change are selling something.

It’s worth noting that four other Chapter 7 authors – Cochrane, Mark Howden, Philip Thornton, and Leslie Lipper – also helped write that activist conference document. Speaking of Lipper, she’s the third FAO employee involved with Chapter 7.

A senior environmental economist, Lipper has also worked for other UN agencies – such as the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. In a FAO-produced video uploaded to YouTube last month (see the top of this post), Lipper says “climate scientists are telling us that we need to act quickly in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change” (1:12).

A more accurate phrasing would be that individuals hand-picked by the UN – who are told what to write about and how many words to say it in – have gone out on a limb. Based on nothing more than dubious computer models, these people pretend to know what the future holds (climate change of such magnitude that it’s worth worrying about). They further pretend they possess sufficient knowledge to know how the “worst impacts” might be avoided.

Does it really need to be said that a career UN bureaucrat – who spends her professional life uttering UN dogma – is not an aloof scholar?

The IPCC’s Chapter 7 was not written by sober, neutral intellects. Its findings are tainted by the fact that three UN employees were involved:

  • Kevern Cochrane
  • Nancy McCarthy
  • Leslie Lipper



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