UPDATE 10/27/2014: See my comment below re Pachauri in most uncharacteristic “voice of moderation” mode -hro
The 40th Session of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is scheduled to be held Oct. 27-31 in Copenhagen – scene of the 2009 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) lapse into a “coma“.
Thanks to the IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development) and long-time quasi-official rapporteur of many a UN meet, I learned that there was a pre-meeting meeting held on Oct. 26 (which in my neck of the woods is today):
Third Meeting of the TGF [Task Group on the Future Work of the IPCC]: This meeting (26 October 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark) discussed: options for and recommendations on future IPCC products; an appropriate structure and modus operandi for producing these products; and ways to enhance developing countries’ participation in and contributions to future work. The TGF is expected to complete its work during the first half of 2015 at IPCC-41, when the Panel is expected to agree on size, structure and composition of the next IPCC Bureau.
Background and Agenda for this Oct. 26 meeting – and a version of this Options paper, CONSIDERATION OF REFINED OPTIONS PAPER PREPARED BY THE TASK GROUP CO-CHAIRS, are available here.
The documents for the meeting that begins tomorrow can be found here. I have always found that the Provisional Annotated Agenda is considerably more informative than the Agenda (not to mention that it contains links to the relevant docs!)
There is no indication whether there will be any new movies of the boom-boom doom-doom gloom-gloom kind. And to be honest I don’t have time today to review all the documents. But, there were two agenda items that IMHO warrant review.
The first is Agenda Item 6 “Future Work of the IPCC”. There are links to six documents:
[IPCC-XL/Doc.13, IPCC-XL/INF.1, IPCC-XL/INF.2, IPCC-XL/INF.2, Add.1,
IPCC-XL/INF.2, Add.2, IPCC-XL/INF.3]
the most recent of which appears to be IPCC-XL/INF. 3. However, this is possibly superceded by “TGF-III/Doc. 2: Consideration of Refined Options Paper Prepared by the Task Group Co-Chairs” as noted above.
I say “possibly” because while “TGF-III/Doc. 2”, does contain the key words “Refined Options” which appear above (and in the actual title), Agenda Item 3 (as noted below) is not the same as Agenda Item 6 (as noted above).
TASK GROUP ON THE FUTURE WORK OF THE IPCC
Copenhagen, Denmark, 26 October 2014
Agenda Item: 3
Oh, and there’s one other document: http://www.ipcc.ch/apps/eventmanager/documents/19/011020140432-p40_inf3_options_paper_prepared_by_tg_cochairs_for_the_second_meeting_of_tg.pdf
FORTIETH SESSION OF THE IPCC
Copenhagen, Denmark, 27-31 October 2014
Agenda Item: 6
But here’s the thing … the last of these multiple variants bears the following:
FUTURE WORK OF THE IPCC
Options paper prepared by the Task Group Co-Chairs for the second meeting
of the Task Group on Future Work of the IPCC (Geneva, 16-17 September 2014)
(Submitted by the Secretariat in support of the process of the Task Group
on the Future Work of the IPCC) [to the best of my recollection, none of the other variants contain this additional detail -hro]
Such “transparency”, eh?!
No wonder the first part of these confabs is invariably taken up with soporifics on the part of the speakers: they’re probably all trying to figure out which of these similarly named (and dated) products of “IPCC papersmart system” they’re supposed to have read and/or be reading and/or addressing!
Anyway, nothing’s going to happen until at least “the first half of 2015 at IPCC-41”, so I guess we don’t need to worry about it … yet!
What’s even more interesting, though, is item 11.4 (Under “Progress Reports”):
Preparations for the Expert Meeting on potential studies of the IPCC process
The Panel at its 39th Session discussed the matter of potential studies of the IPCC process and it requested the Executive Committee to initiate an expert meeting which should produce a report that recommends principles to guide the IPCC’s engagement with such research. A Steering Group has been set up to prepare that expert meeting. A report on the state of play will be presented to the Panel.
You see this rang a rather faint bell. Although I must confess that when I opened up this document, IPCC-XL/Doc.10, at first I thought my memory must be failing me. Until I saw:
Naomi Orestes, Harvard University (representing social scientists interested in conducting studies) (United States of America)
I rather thought the name should be Naomi Oreskes because the description does fit her bill. Must be just a typo on p.2, though, because I see that when this same “Scientific Steering Committee” list appeared again on p. 4, her name was spelled correctly.
But there was another name I was actually looking for – of which I found no sign whatsoever: that of Michael Oppenheimer. You see, I had written about this “potential study” a little over a year ago (after the 39th Session of the IPCC which was held in Batumi, Georgia). And at that point, this “potential study” was essentially Oppenheimer’s baby and Oreskes was one of the et al‘s. Here’s Pachauri’s Batumi intro via “Other business”:
To promote greater transparency for the IPCC process and also to ensure that awareness is created among the scientific community and the public in general about the manner in which the IPCC carries out its activities, encouraging objective study and assessment of the IPCC process by credible scientific groups would be desirable.
As I had noted with some surprise, at the time:
Hasn’t Pachauri always claimed that the IPCC process is the most transparent process ever?! And is the InterAcademy Council (IAC), which conducted a review of the IPCC’s policies and procedures in 2010 no longer a “credible scientific group” and/or when and by whom was it determined that the IAC’s review and findings were not “objective?!
And here’s an excerpt from Oppenheimer’s word salad:
Public visibility and stature brings with it, for better or worse, public interest, curiosity and scrutiny. Our research will contribute to visibility, transparency, and legibility of the IPCC and its reports, helping policy-makers, scientists in other disciplines, and the public at large to better understand the intellectual basis for IPCC conclusions.
Our study’s findings will be published first and foremost in peer reviewed scientific journals, but we will also seek to communicate in venues where our results will reach policy makers and interested citizens. Our work will clearly explain the IPCC process and findings as well as analyze some of the innovative and challenging features of the IPCC. Most publicity about the IPCC comes from the IPCC itself or its detractors: our research team provides a neutral vantage point from which to educate the public and experts on the dynamics of climate assessments.
But here’s the thing, even though Oppenheimer acknowledged his role in previous IPCC Assessment Reports (via an article about the study in Nature) no one (least of all Oppenheimer or Pachauri) mentioned that he is also a Lead Author for AR5. And that’s a little too close for unconflicted comfort, is it not?!
But that aside, the (new, improved?) primary product of this “expert meeting” will be:
a report that recommends principles to guide the IPCC’s engagement in potential studies of the IPCC process, for consideration by the IPCC Panel. The report of the meeting will explain the motivation behind the suggestions. The suggested guidelines and the report of the meeting will be available on the internet and in printed form. The outcomes will be available in time to inform the work of the Task Group on the Future of the IPCC.
Oh, look how nicely this will tie in with the above noted “Future Work of the IPCC”! But, still no mention of the IAC’s report, btw. And as far as I can tell, there are very few “ingredients” in this particular word salad that one could find in that produced a year ago in Batumi!
While somewhat amusing, none of the above would suggest that there might be an immediate “storm” ahead for the IPCC. But that which sent me off on this particular journey down incompetence and inconsistency lane was my initial stop at the RTCC to see what they might be saying (if anything) about this 40th Session of the IPCC.
Evidently, the RTCC’s Ed King had access to a “leaked draft” of a 181 page document. Some excerpts from his perspective:
Comments on draft IPCC ‘synthesis’ report show governments want to make clear the dangers of global warming
Over 2,000 comments on the UN’s flagship climate science report have been submitted ahead of a week of negotiations that will determine the final text in Copenhagen.
A 181-page review of the draft seen by RTCC is packed with amendments government officials believe are necessary before it is approved for publication.
The UK wants the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) study to focus more the “risks of delaying action” as well as the “co-benefits of action”.
US comments say the study should stress how richer countries could be affected by future extreme weather events. “There are very few references to the vulnerability of wealthier countries to climate change,” they write.
The US also says the final IPCC synthesis report, which pulls together three 1,000+ page studies released in the past 12 months, needs to be more accessible to readers without deep technical knowledge of climate issues
“This document should be prepared so as to be effective for the people who will only read the gray boxes. This report is a story, of what happens if we don’t act, and what can happen if we do… it should be an effective story.”
[… here comes the stormy bit:]
Saudi Arabia, which has a history of trying to downplay potential impacts of climate change, says the report should reflect a recorded slowdown in temperature rise since 1998.
The world’s largest oil exporter also calls for negative effects of curbing fossil fuel use, including the devaluation of its assets, to be mentioned in the final text.
Not all comments are political. “I have zoomed 150% in the pdf and have a huge monitor. The [Figure SPM 4] figure has a low resolution which makes it hard to read on paper,” a Danish official writes. [emphases added -hro]
Readers will no doubt be pleased to know that former U.K. Guardian hack, Leo Hickman, in his new role as WWF-U.K.’s “chief climate change adviser”:
will be in Copenhagen as an observer, tells RTCC the synthesis will likely be the “go-to document” governments use when seeking evidence for their climate and energy policies.
“This latest IPCC synthesis report is likely to show a clear fork in the road ahead to policymakers,” he says. “We now have to ensure our representatives choose the right route: one that guarantees a safe, stable climate in the decades ahead and leaves the era of fossil fuels behind us.”
Oh, well … that settles that, then, doesn’t it?!
OMG, I almost forgot … King also wrote:
In a sign of the importance the UN places on this study, secretary general Ban Ki-moon is to attend a press conference on Sunday 2 November where the synthesis will be released.
“The timing is no coincidence – this is being done to be ready for Lima,” says IPCC director of communications Jonathan Lynn.
Notwithstanding Hickman’s “assessment”, he and the Green Blob carry on as though money is no object – and apparently oblivious to journalist Fred Pearce’s observation when the UNFCCC slipped into its “coma”:
I have been speaking to a PR operator for one of the world’s leading environmental organizations. Most unusually, he didn’t want to be quoted. But his message is clear. The facts of the e-mails barely matter any more. It has always been hard to persuade the public that invisible gases could somehow warm the planet, and that they had to make sacrifices to prevent that from happening. It seemed, on the verge of Copenhagen, as if that might be about to be achieved.
But he says all that ended on Nov. 20 . “The [Climategate] e-mails represented a seminal moment in the climate debate of the last five years, and it was a moment that broke decisively against us. I think the CRU leak is nothing less than catastrophic.”