Auditor Bashes UN Climate Panel

Published August 31, 2010

The Amsterdam-based InterAcademy Council (IAC), a scientific body asked to audit UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) procedures, has determined IPCC improperly crossed the line of policy advocacy, is not transparent enough, is prone to conflicts of interest, and has made numerous alarmist assertions that are not supported by the scientific record.

IAC recommends structural reforms to fix IPCC’s flaws before IPCC’s next report, due in 2014.

IAC includes the world’s top science academies and is immune from charges of bias against warming assertions. The United Nations itself asked IAC to conduct the audit.

Lack of Supporting Evidence
“We found in the summary for policymakers that there were two kinds of errors that came up—one is the kind where they place high confidence in something where there is very little evidence. The other is the kind where you make a statement … with no substantive value, in our judgment,” IAC reported.

Don Easterbrook, emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, agrees with IAC’s criticism.

“The IPCC report is filled with statements of ’90 percent certainty’ without even saying 90 percent of what or providing any basis for such statements. Yet those pronouncements of certainty were used over and over as though that had been scientifically proven somehow,” Easterbrook told

“In the last assessment, each Working Group used a different variation of IPCC’s uncertainty guidelines, and the committee found that the guidance is not always followed,” the IAC report continued. “The Working Group II report, for example, contains some statements that were assigned high confidence but for which there is little evidence. In future assessments, all Working Groups should qualify their understanding of a topic by describing the amount of evidence available and the degree of agreement among experts; this is known as the level of understanding scale. And all Working Groups should use a probability scale to quantify the likelihood of a particular event occurring, but only when there is sufficient evidence to do so.”

Errors Ignored
IAC also faulted IPCC for its “slow and inadequate response to revelations of errors in the last assessment” and noted “complaints that its leaders have gone beyond IPCC’s mandate to be ‘policy relevant, not policy prescriptive’ in their public comments.” 

IAC added, “accountability and transparency must be considered as a growing obligation, and this alone would require revisiting IPCC’s processes and procedures.”

‘Significant Step Toward Sanity’
“The InterAcademy Council report is too modest in its call for reform of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but it is a vindication of what authors affiliated with The Heartland Institute have been saying for the past 15 years,” said Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute. “It is unfortunate that it took the academic community so long to recognize and admit the flaws in the IPCC process that led it to commit the greatest corruption of science in the past hundred years.

“Spokespersons associated with The Heartland Institute have been disputing the alarmist claims of the IPCC since 1995,” Bast observed. “When our perspective was censored by the mainstream media, we circumvented them by distributing accurate information directly to approximately 200,000 of the nation’s policymakers and opinion leaders. During the past five years, Heartland produced and distributed millions of copies of books, videos, and reports and hosted four international conferences on climate change. In 2009, Heartland published Climate Change Reconsidered, an 800-page report written by 38 scientists from more than a dozen countries and containing more than 4,000 references to articles in peer-reviewed journals.

“Opinion polls and recent political events reveal that our efforts have paid off: Most people don’t believe global warming is manmade or will be a disaster. Cap and trade is politically dead now and perhaps for years to come. The great global warming delusion is fading, and soon it will be largely forgotten. In this context, the InterAcademy Council report is a small but significant step toward sanity,” Bast added.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.