UN Climate Panel Urged to Reform, Stick to Science

The U.N. climate panel should only make predictions when it has solid scientific evidence and avoid straying into policy advocacy, a group of national science academies said in a report Monday.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was hit with a wave of criticism after acknowledging in January that its 2007 global warming report had exaggerated the pace of Himalayan glaciers melting. It had previously said the report had overstated how much of the Netherlands is below sea level.

“Qualitative probabilities should be used to describe the probability of well-defined outcomes only when there is sufficient evidence,” said the review group, which was supported by the academies of science from the United States, Netherlands, Britain and other countries.

The report said the 12-year limit for the chair of the IPCC, currently Rajendra Pachauri of India, was too long and should be shortened. It called for an overhaul of the panel’s management, including the creation of an executive committee that would include people from outside the IPCC.

Regarding the errors that appeared in the IPCC reports, the review group’s report called for stronger enforcement of the panel’s scientific review procedures to minimize future mistakes.

U.N. Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon has acknowledged there were a small number of errors in what is known as the Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007, a document of more than 3,000 pages that cited more than 10,000 scientific papers. But he has insisted that its fundamental conclusions were correct.

The next such report on climate change will be published in 2013 and 2014.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Bill Trott)