Thursday, February 11, 2010

U.N. climate panel reforms urged to boost trust

OSLO (Reuters) – A leading U.N. climate panel should be split up or even turned into an online encyclopaedia to help restore trust after mistakes like an erroneous forecast on the melting of Himalayan glaciers, experts said.

Five leading climatologists suggested everything from sticking with the existing Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to replacing it with an organisation modelled on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"IPCC: cherish it, tweak it or scrap it," the journal Nature said of proposed solutions published in Thursday's edition.
An error that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035 -- a huge exaggeration of the thaw -- has exposed shortcomings in the IPCC's checks of its sources and led to calls for reforms of the panel that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Scandals over leaked e-mails from a British University and conflicts of interest by panel members have also damaged the IPCC, whose reports are the main guide for costly government policies to shift from fossil fuels towards renewable energies.
"Like the financial sector last year, the IPCC is currently experiencing a failure of trust that reveals flaws in its structure," wrote Eduardo Zorita of the GKSS Research Centre in Germany.
He said the IPCC, whose authors usually keep their existing jobs, should be replaced by an "International Climate Agency", perhaps with 200 staff. He said the IAEA, the European Central Bank or the U.S. Congressional Budget Office showed it was possible to be independent and respected. Read more.

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