Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

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

The IPCC: Bar the Media, Welcome the Activists

In Berlin this week, environmental activists were allowed to attend a four-day meeting that journalists were denied access to. This is normal IPCC procedure.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just completed another four-day meeting, this time in Berlin. In a little less than 24 hours, it will hold a press conference at which it will release the official summary of the 16 chapters that comprise the Working Group 3 section of its new report.

Over at the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Damian Carrington is already telling the world what that summary will say. His article is headlined IPCC Report: world must urgently switch to clean sources of energy.

Let’s leave aside the fact that the IPCC is supposed to be policy neutral – never policy prescriptive. It’s not supposed to be telling anyone what they must do. (See the last line of this self-description on the IPCC’s website).

Let us, instead, focus on the fact that this four-day IPCC meeting – which hammered out the exact wording of the summary that will be released tomorrow – was held behind closed doors. The public was excluded. The media was excluded. No independent, outside scrutiny was permitted.

We are all expected to meekly accept the word of those involved that everything that went on during that meeting was entirely proper, reasonable, and of no public interest whatsoever.

Scandalously, however, people associated with one narrow constituency did get access to that meeting. Those people are environmental activists.

As Hilary Ostrov highlighted back in September of last year, when the Working Group 1 summary was finalized in a similar four-day meeting, activists were in the room. Ostrov includes the photo that appears at the top of this post, which was sourced from here. The photo clearly shows a representative of Greenpeace International, in addition to individuals associated with other “observer organizations” attending a meeting that was absolutely off-limits to reporters.

There’s nothing new about this. This is normal IPCC procedure. For years it has told journalists that they have no right to witness meetings that green activists are nevertheless welcome to attend.

Incredibly, journalists have gone along for the ride. They have not screamed bloody murder. They have not even bothered to report this fact. Why doesn’t every single news item about the IPCC mention this outrageous double standard?

Why does no one draw attention to the fact that IPCC media advisories routinely contain sentences such as these:

For the opening session a limited number of places is available for media in the conference hall. Priority will be given to wire sources and local media. Otherwise, the [four-day] Working Group session and the following IPCC Plenary session are closed to the public and to media. [bold added; see the top of page 2 here]

The IPCC is an organization that prioritizes green groups above journalists – and above the public, with whose interests journalists have traditionally been associated.

Public barred. Activists welcome. That’s the IPCC for you.

Is this how a truly scientific organization writing truly scientific reports would behave?



Print Friendly, PDF & Email