IPCC’s AR5: Pontifications from planet Stocker, Pachauri & Steiner

UPDATE 09/27/2013 12:13 AM PDT Text of speeches by Stocker, Pachauri & two others (not Steiner!) now posted at:


In its typically “transparent” fashion, on Sept. 23, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assembled behind closed doors to conduct the “line by line” approval of the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of Working Group I (WGI)’s contribution to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

The powers that be were kind enough to invite the media to the opening of this session – which, strictly speaking, is not a session of the IPCC, but of WGI, at which (as I learned from the video below) 110 of the 194 governments which actually constitute the Panel have an unknown number of delegates in attendance. This is an improvement on the government participation in the similar deliberations pertaining to WGIII’s SRREN report two years ago; as I had documented, government participation was less than 50% of the Panel’s nations.

Here’s the video of the almost 60 minutes of speeches:

And the following are a few highlights I jotted down as I was listening to these well-scripted (and mostly woodenly read) performances:

WGI Co-Chair (and chief manipulator ooops, sorry “facilitator“) certainly set the tone and expectations:

We are not here to discuss what we have heard or read in the news recently … we are here to successfully complete [the assessment process which began four years ago] … Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time … [IPCC assessment reports provide an] unprecedented and unbiased view of the climate system.

He sure gave those government representatives their marching orders, didn’t he?! And I wonder how the media representatives in attendance might have felt about Stocker dissing/dismissing whatever they might have previously written!

The most notable part of IPCC Chair, Rajendra’s Pachauri’s presentation was the following porkie:

All of the InterAcademy Council (IAC)’s [2010] recommendations … have been implemented, with one exception which was not feasible for practical reasons

In one of several excellent posts recently, Dr. Judith Curry (who is a real climate scientist) had written:

If you had the opportunity to ask 5 critical questions for the IPCC, what would you ask?

After noting questions posed by others, Curry observed:

The idea of asking the IPCC questions is an interesting one. It seems to me that there somewhat of a disconnect between what the public/policy makers want to know, and the way that the IPCC frames it’s conclusions.

In the past, I’ve criticized and made recommendations regarding the IPCC. But I’ve never thought about asking them questions. Well, at the top of my list would be:

How have you responded to the IAC recommendations? If you have not yet implemented the IAC’s recommendations, then why not? [emphasis in original -hro]

To which I had responded:

This question would be the first on my list, as well! Although, considering that the powers that be at the IPCC have gone to considerable lengths [starting here] to create the illusion of having implemented the IAC’s recommendations, I think I might phrase it somewhat differently! However, proper phrasing from which they could not weasel/wriggle/handwave away, would probably take up at least five questions, if not more;-) So here are two that I would start with:

1. In its report, the IAC recommended that the IPCC :

[…] should establish an Executive Committee to act on its behalf between Plenary sessions. The membership of the Committee should include […] three independent members who include individuals from outside of the climate community [emphasis added -hro]

Why was the bolded part of this recommendation not implemented?

2. In its report, the IAC had noted that:

Interviews and responses to the Committee’s questionnaire revealed a lack of transparency in several stages of the IPCC assessment process, including scoping and the selection of authors and reviewers, as well as in the selection of scientific and technical information considered in the chapters. [emphasis added -hro]

This was followed by a number of specific recommendations, including:

a) “The IPCC should establish a formal set of criteria and processes for selecting Coordinating Lead Authors and Lead Authors”

Where might one find this formal set of criteria and processes, and how might any interested person confirm that they have, in fact, been applied during the selection process?

b) “The IPCC should strengthen and enforce its procedure for the use of unpublished and non-peer-reviewed literature, including […] ensuring that unpublished and non-peer-reviewed literature is appropriately flagged in the report.”

Notwithstanding the fact this this longstanding “flagging” rule had rarely been applied, the Task Group decided to eliminate this rule, deeming it to be “too impractical”.

Considering the detail in the References section of each chapter, for work cited in the IPCC’s reports, what makes this flagging “impractical”? How does this change reflect the recommended increase in transparency?

But I digress … back to porkies ‘n pontifications central! Rarely a day goes by when IPCC “parent”, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)’s head honcho, Achim Steiner isn’t announcing a new “initiative” or addressing some gathering or other to talk about the joys of the (still undefined, as far as I know!) “green economy” and “transforming” one thing or another. On Sept. 18, a few days before the (sure to be “historic”) behind closed doors IPCC gathering in Stockholm, Steiner was in action:

Remarks by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director at Champions of the Earth Awards Ceremony 2013

If we are to transform our economies, our mind sets and our way of living from waste and environmental degradation into a trajectory that offers hope, prosperity and stability for seven billion people-and all the wonderful creatures, species and landscapes that still exist on this Earth-we need all kinds of people.

People who can take the messages, ideas and examples of what is infinitely do-able but so far largely unrealized, to parts of the global public UNEP reports and UN processes so rarely reach.

Perhaps this was the day Steiner also recorded his video speech for the Stockholm crowd. Here’s a closeup, direct from planet Steiner:


Hmmm … keyword: “Environmental governance” What could this “gold standard” science possibly have to do with “environmental governance” I wonder?! Oh, well, some highlights (or lowlights, depending on one’s perspective) of Steiner’s word salad:

Imperfect knowledge is never a reason not to act … [the IPCC] helps us to understand the phenomenon that will transform our lives, our economies and indeed the way our planet will function in the future … [climate change is] the greatest driver of transformation in the 21st century.

Other predictably quotable quotes from one or another of the speakers (perhaps one of the above triumvirate, but possibly one of the others) included:

“Climate change is one of the most threatening global challenges in history”

“Human activities are the primary driver [of climate change]”

“Extreme weather findings [indicate that] further research is needed … climate action cannot be postponed”

But, on the bright side, I didn’t hear anyone declare that “it’s worse than we thought”

On the not so bright side (in more ways than one, perhaps) IPCC Lead Authors, and valiant defenders of the IPCC, Richard Betts and Richard Klein provided some amusement on twitter regarding the participation of NGOs with officially approved “observer” status.

Betts set this particular ball rolling with his ill-informed declaration to Tom Nelson:

To which I had responded:

Klein rode to Betts’ rescue:

Which prompted me to ask:

To which Klein in full ruffled feathers “I’m an expert, you should trust me” mode replied:

So a few hours later, when I learned via the quasi-official rapporteur IISD site that:

A contact group on the section on drivers of climate change was established and informal consultations on global temperature increase continued. A number of other informal groups convened to discuss specific points in more detail.

I asked the following (perhaps inconvenient?!) question:

To which Klein “authoritatively” (and dictatorially, uninformatively and disrespectfully) issued his “nyet“:

Quelle surprise, eh?!

4 thoughts on “IPCC’s AR5: Pontifications from planet Stocker, Pachauri & Steiner

    • Oh, you’re quite welcome, Richard.

      But if you’d actually read my post you would have noticed that your little even when I’m wrong I’m right “gotcha” tweet – which succeeds, as your postings and tweets far too frequently and disappointing do, in missing the point – I had already acknowledged and posted your “happy acceptance” (at least that’s the way it appeared in the view from here!)

      [Edit] Hmmm … Seems that WordPress and twitter are not talking to each other … If just viewing post via “Home Page/Archives”, embedded tweets will include antecedents if this option was selected during “embedding”. But if reader has actually clicked on post to respond, tweets are “stripped” and omit any antecedents (at least in the template I’m using)

      Notwithstanding the above, it still seems to me that you were engaging in an “even when I’m wrong, I’m right ‘gotcha'” which succeeded in missing the point :-)

  1. Neither ‘speak’ nor ‘negotiate a line:’ great. Observant, silent, onlookers! Guileless, innocent witnesses.
    Let’s try this: Do they ‘talk?’ Only among themselves? Do they distribute pamphlets? brochures? images? [digital, hard-copy, any form]? Maybe a bit provincial, but in the States ‘speech’ includes burning flags; in Stockholm, what obtains when free speech is considered?
    Many African and Balkans know precisely what UN ‘Observers’ cannot/ought not/shall not do; others cannot speak, from the grave.
    Neither facetious, nor sarcastic, for certain. What do the donors expect from NGO’s? Do these activists earn their keep by not talking?

  2. You can betcher sweet bippy the NGOs are buttonholing and promoting and threatening for all they’re worth during the informal sessions, to make sure the key assumptions are assumed! And how many “official” IPCC reps are wearing two or more hats? All ‘conflict of interest’ concerns have been put off till the sweet bye-and-bye, after all.

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