In July 2009, Venice was the venue at which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held a “scoping meeting” for the 5th Assessment Report (AR5), due to be published sometime in 2014. IPCC Chair, Rajendra “Hell no, I won’t go” Pachauri, is reknowned for writing purple prose – and for his penchant for putting foot in mouth – but there’s a remarkable document that he “submitted” at this “scoping meeting”. [h/t ZT via ClimateAudit]
This particular 24-page opus is entitled, “Chairman’s Vision Paper” and the first thing one notices is that Pachauri, evidently, also has a talent for writing in “bureaucratese”. Although, to be fair, he did have “inputs from IPCC Vice-Chairs and Co-Chairs of Working Groups and the Secretary of the IPCC” (p. 4).
I’ll bet you didn’t know that (all emphases in excerpts below are mine):
Based on an approach that is open, thorough, and scientifically rigorous, the contributions of the IPCC are widely recognized as the authoritative source of scientific information on climate change and as key foundations for negotiations and decisions related to implementing the UNFCCC.
In addition to being authoritative assessments, the IPCC reports are powerful motivators for research. New research on many of the understanding gaps identified in the AR4 is underway and advancing, with both the scientific community and the world’s governments strongly supportive of a successful next IPCC assessment, the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).
And you’ll never guess what we have to look forward to in AR5. Apart from formulating a (scientific?!) definition of “dangerous” (as in “dangerous anthropogenic climate change”), “sustainable development” will be brought to the front burner; in fact, it will probably be “overarching” and “pervasive” (p. 6):
Climate change needs to be assessed in the context of sustainable development, and this consideration should pervade the entire report across the three Working Groups. In past assessments sustainable development and its various linkages with climate change were seen largely as an add-on. Most governments who have commented on this issue have highlighted the need to treat sustainable development as an overarching framework in the context of both adaptation and mitigation.
Most governments who commented? Hmmm … is there a source for this, you might well ask (well, I certainly did!). The footnote on p.6 tells us that:
A more comprehensive summary of recent submissions from governments and organizations has been prepared by the IPCC Secretariat and is contained in document AR5-SCOP/Doc.3. A compilation of submissions is contained in document AR5-SCOP/INF.1. Submissions received in the year 2008 and synthesis and discussions papers based on them are listed under background documentation for the meeting and can be accessed from the IPCC website.
Oh, look! Yet another “compilation”! No link, of course … but, never fear, dear reader, Hilary’s here ;-) I found it – and I didn’t even have to send anyone any letters! Indeed, there are no less than 30 instances of “sustainable development” pervading the 93-page “compilation” found in AR5-SCOP/INF.1.
For the record, AR5-SCOP/INF.1 bears the title:
“POLICY RELEVANT SCIENTIFIC TECHNICAL TOPICS TO BE ADDRESSED IN IPCC AR5
Compilation of submissions from Governments and Organizations
(Prepared by the IPCC Secretariat)”
But I digress … Back to our merchant in Venice, whose “vision” contains no less than 22 instances of (surprise) “sustainable development”, complemented by sixteen instances of “equity”, eight instances of “justice” and of “public good problems”, seven of “poverty” and three of “gender”. Oh, well, I guess that’s all part and parcel of Pachauri-speak for “scientific rigour”. But wait, there’s more! Here’s a little tidbit found on p. 5:
[T]he IPCC AR5 is being taken in hand at a time when awareness on climate change issues has reached a level unanticipated in the past. Much of this change can be attributed to the findings of the AR4 which have been disseminated actively through a conscious effort by the IPCC, its partners and most importantly the media. Expectations are, therefore, at an all time high as far as the AR5 is concerned.
To be honest, I’m not sure that I share these great expectations of AR5. Nonetheless, the above excerpt certainly makes me wonder why in recent months there have been so many complaints about “the media”. In fact, as I had noted in an earlier post, Dr. Judith Curry has observed:
Climate scientists got lazy and thought communicating that there was a consensus among the scientists was sufficient to convince the public. Now they seem annoyed that this didn’t work and are blaming the journalists.
No doubt the media will come to heel in the months ahead, as they prepare to play their dutiful role in flogging the “vision” of our merchant in Venice which is partially encapsulated in his (p. 16):
Equity, Fairness, Sustainable Development and Life Style Changes: Problems of collective action, or public good problems that may overlap with various parallel challenges, can only be solved if the solution is considered to be fair and based on adequate equity principles. In general, the equity principle has to be applied to inter- and intra-generational justice as a prerequisite for sustainable development as well as lifestyle changes.
Climate science, as articulated by our merchant in Venice, is nothing short of … Amazing. Simply amazing.