IPCC’s new, improved “virtual certainty” flavoured sausage report

In the MSM versions of the run-up to the upcoming (November 28- December 9) Durban confab (the 17th in recorded history) of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) very little ado is made of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s obeisance to the UNFCC’s agenda. In fact, while the IPCC claims that it does not do “research”, the UNFCCC appears to depend (at least to some plausibly deniable extent) on the IPCC for “research”:

Research

Background

Research on climate and issues connected with climate change is carried out nationally, regionally and internationally. Internationally, climate-related research is coordinated by a variety of international programmes and organizations; some of the major ones being the International Council for Science (ICSU), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), the International Geosphere–Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), DIVERSITAS, as well as partnerships and networks, such as the Earth System Science Partnership. In addition, a number of regional networks promote and support climate-relevant research activities, including activities to enhance research capacity in the regions, such as the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) and the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN).

Information on national and cooperative research activities can be found in Parties’ national communications.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has a well established role in the Convention process in communicating scientific information to the Convention through its regular assessment reports and its wide range of special reports and technical papers. Although it does not carry out its own research, it plays a key role in assessing the information from worldwide climate research in peer-reviewed literature, journals, books and other sources. It also has an important function in identifying priority needs for further research activities.

Research undertaken that is relevant to climate change focuses on a wide range of topics such as earth sciences, climate processes and system, climate variability, climate modelling and prediction, including extreme events; impacts of and vulnerabilities to climate change, including adaptation to it, and climate change mitigation. It also covers a broad spectrum of sectors, society, economies and ecosystems, as well as cross-cutting and interdisciplinary research. [emphasis added -hro]

Talk about creative ambiguity, eh?! But all of the above is by way of “background” to the most recently leaked “innovation” from the sausage factory, otherwise known as the IPCC – which will be holding its own Kampala, Uganda confab November 18-19, preceded by the “First Joint Session of Working Groups I and II” (November 14 – 17), the latter of which, in turn (according to a “progress report” submitted by the “Co-Chairs of the IPCC Working Group II and Working Group I), will be preceded by a:

WGI/WGII Joint Session (Kampala, Uganda • 14-17 November 2011)

A pre-plenary preparatory meeting will be held with the [Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation] SREX CLAs on 11-13 November for the First Joint Session of Working Groups I and II that will consider the approval of the Summary for Policymakers of the SREX and acceptance of the scientific and technical assessment in the underlying chapters. [emphasis added -hro]

But according to this same “progress report”:

The Final Government Distribution was 22 August – 14 October 2011. All Focal Points and Observer Organization representatives were pre-registered and sent unique credentials immediately after the IPCC Secretariat broadcast initiated the Final Government Distribution. The distribution generated comments from 28 governments and 7 Observer Organizations. [emphasis added -hro]

Hmmm … Comments from a mere* 28 “governments” and 7 “Observer Organizations” does not inspire overwhelming confidence that there will have been sufficient oversight or due diligence prior to the issuance of this latest IPCC UNFCCC driven propaganda exercise report.

* As an aside, there may or may not be some significance to the fact “Observer Organizations” are conferred with Capital comments, while comments from “governments” are not!

The IPCC’s Kampala confab has a rather full “agenda”. Item 3 (according to the Provisional Annotated Agenda) is as follows:

3. ACCEPTANCE OF THE ACTIONS TAKEN AT THE JOINT SESSION OF WORKING GROUP I AND WORKING GROUP II ON THE SPECIAL REPORT ON MANAGING THE RISKS OF EXTREME EVENTS AND DISASTERS TO ADVANCE CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION (SREX)

Under this agenda item, the Panel will formally accept the Summary for Policymakers of the SREX. Section 4.3 of Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work: Procedures for the Preparation, Review, Acceptance, Adoption, Approval and Publication of IPCC Reports, stipulates that “For a Summary for Policymakers approved by a Working Group to be endorsed as an IPCC Report, it must be accepted at a Session of the Panel. Because the Working Group
approval process is open to all governments, Working Group approval of a Summary for Policymakers means that the Panel cannot change it.
However, it is necessary for the Panel to review the Report at a Session, note any substantial disagreements, (in accordance with Principle 10 of the Principles Governing IPCC Work) and formally accept it. [emphasis added -hro]

This skin wording and “processing” is exactly the same as that which transpired earlier this year when an IPCC press release led the Guardian’s Damian Carrington and IPCC insider, Richard Klein to insist that “all 194 governments” had “approved” the SRREN Summary for Policymakers.

But they were quite mistaken, as I had noted:

[T]here were only 188 names in 91 “national delegations” who participated in the 11th Session of Working Group III at which the SPM for the SSREN was actually “approved”, i.e. “subjected to detailed, line by line discussion and agreement”. Not only is this a far cry from being “approved by government representatives from 194 nations” (as falsely “advertised” on May 9), it doesn’t even constitute 50% of the Panel’s “government membership”!

Not that either Carrington or Klein has ever acknowledged his respective error. But I digress…

The actual meat contained in content of this latest sausage report seems to be still under wraps (possibly awaiting pre-processing at the Nov. 11-13 “pre-plenary preparatory meeting”?). But you can probably get a pretty good idea of what it’s likely to look like by perusing the (April 2009) Scoping Paper. Here are a few excerpts I found to be, well, interesting:

Background: The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) concluded that climate change has begun to affect the frequency, intensity, and length of many extreme events, such as floods, droughts, storms, and extreme temperatures […]
However, the AR4 reviewed policies and measures that were specifically identified as adaptation and not the full range of activities undertaken to reduce the risks of extreme events and disasters.

Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) acknowledged the relevance of disaster risk reduction to advance adaptation in the December 2007 Bali Action Plan, which calls for enhanced action on risk management and risk reduction strategies, including risk transfer mechanisms such as insurance, and disaster reduction strategies to lessen the impact of disasters on developing countries.
[…]
Rationale: The participants [in the scoping workshop] concluded that a Special Report is needed for the following reasons:

The Special Report would contribute to the goals of the UNFCCC and to the work of the Nairobi Work Programme on Impacts, Vulnerability, and Adaptation to Climate Change. The Nairobi Work Programme is structured around nine areas of work, including “Climate Related Risks and Extreme Events.” The objective of this area is to promote understanding of the vulnerability to and impacts of climate change, current and future climate variability and extreme events, and the implications for sustainable development.
[…]
The proposed Special Report […] meets the other priority guidelines: sufficient scientific literature exists; the primary audience is the UNFCCC and the target is the development of the post‐2012 agreement and adaptation plans; the scientific community is available; and the topic is specific in scope. [emphasis added -hro]

But they’ve got their “Outreach Activities” all mapped out, at least according to the Progress Report which will be reviewed (or whatever else the Panel might choose to do with it) as part of Item 10 on the IPCC’s busy agenda:

10. PROGRESS REPORTS

IPCC-XXXIV/Doc.10, IPCC-XXXIV/Doc.11; IPCC-XXXIV/Doc.12; IPCC-XXXIV/Doc.13;
IPCC-XXXIV/Doc.14; IPCC-XXXIV/Doc.15; IPCC-XXXIV/Doc.16; IPCC-XXXIV/Doc.17;
IPCC-XXXIV/Doc.18

Co-chairs of the IPCC Working Groups I, II, III as well as the TFI will be invited to present progress reports. A progress report on the activities of the TGICA will also be presented.

The IPCC Secretariat will present a progress report on the IPCC Scholarship Programme, which awarded its first round of scholarships.

In case you were wondering, IPCC-XXIV/Doc.15 is the one you want:

The action plan, for which external funding has been sought, comprises a series of six outreach events in developing countries and one in Norway; preparation of outreach materials that are thoroughly grounded in the SPM but accessible to general audiences; an SREX website that is integrated in the IPCC web environment; and training sessions for SREX authors to effectively present the SPM’s key messages.

There will be two phases to the SREX launch. Phase I will focus on the release of the SPM and will include a press briefing at IPCC XXXIV, and side events at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 17th Conference of the Parties (Durban, South Africa • 28 Nov – 9 Dec 2011). Phase II will focus on the release of the underlying chapters in February 2012. [emphasis added -hro]

Couldn’t find anything in this Progress Report that mentioned any pre-pre-processing press releases. But if this Nov. 1 report from Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald via AFP is a reliable harbinger of scary stories to come, we may be in for a battering storm of overconfidence, endorsed by “194 governments”:

Climate change linked to extreme weather

A draft UN report three years in the making concludes that man-made climate change has boosted the frequency or intensity of heat waves, wildfires, floods and cyclones and that such disasters are likely to increase in the future.

The document being discussed by the world’s Nobel-winning panel of climate scientists (sic) says the severity of the impacts vary, and some regions are more vulnerable than others.

Hundreds of scientists working under the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) will vet the phonebook-sized draft at a meeting in Kampala of the 194-nation body later this month.
[…]
AFP obtained a copy of the draft report’s 20-page Summary for Policymakers, which is subject to revision by governments before release on November 18.
[…]
The new report’s main conclusions about future trends include:

It is “virtually certain” — 99-100% sure — that the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes will increase over the 21st century on a global scale;
[…] [emphasis added -hro]

The “writing team” for this opus (as of mid October) can be found at http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/extremes-sr/authors/writing_team_pb.html. In keeping with the IPCC’s tradition of “transparency”, the only information we are given about each individual is her/his role, country of origin and (at least one) institutional affiliation. No indication of where anyone’s expertise might lie.

But – according to the “progress report” – in July 2011, the Co-Chairs took a remarkable leap forward by adding “great value” to this sausage report with the:

immediate introduction and implementation of a policy on disclosure of interests, together with a declaration of compliance with IPCC Principles and Procedures […] Therefore, in July 2011, a mandatory policy was introduced for the SREX, which applies to the SREX CLAs, LAs and REs as well as to all members of the WGI and WGII Bureaux and the WGI and WGII TSUs.

And I’m “virtually certain” that this innovation guarantees an unquestionably “kosher” sausage report – at least from the IPCC’s perspective!

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