Stormy days ahead for IPCC?

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:


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 However, this is possibly superceded by “TGF-III/Doc. 2: Consideration of Refined Options Paper Prepared by the Task Group Co-Chairs” as noted above.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).

Copenhagen, Denmark, 26 October 2014
TGF-III/Doc. 2
Agenda Item: 3

Oh, and there’s one other document:

Copenhagen, Denmark, 27-31 October 2014
Agenda Item: 6

But here’s the thing … the last of these multiple variants bears the following:

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:

US and UK call on UN science panel to stress climate risks

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 [2009]. “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.”


11 thoughts on “Stormy days ahead for IPCC?

  1. Hilary, you have the patience of Job. To go through this blizzard of words and pages and then distil some sense and order out of it is more than I could ever do. We had a saying at school, “bullshit baffles brains” and I think that is the underpinning motto for our friends at the IPCC.

    No doubt the political outcome has been decided and so will be delivered. I must say though that I have struggled for ages to try and understand what the anti man made CO2 thrust is in aid of and I am no nearer now than I was when I started. Maybe the simple explanation is correct, money and power because for sure the CO2 molecule isn’t doing what they say it should.

  2. “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.” I am a little surprised they didnt use the word denier , but they did get close . ” (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?!” Well it wasn’t for them to begin with but they will have to look at hiding that fact in the future ,so as to not give the “detractors” any more valid points then need be .

    Climate changes do pose risks . We get that but it’s” their” warming change that are far less important then the cooling that is happening in the real world . WUWT has a thread about grain futures, especially this years that will ,I fear , show which is the most serious change to be concerned with . Problem for their train they are riding is that it has to have co2 being the dominant underlying factor ,which it does not .

    Like a lot of armchair tired old people I found my way into this whole climate thingy just prior the email leaks . ” But he says all that ended on Nov. 20 [2009]. “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.” Who could argue with that statement lol. It did however cause a lot of us to do a lot of reading and thinking about just what might be at play and well , when the cat is out of the bag you can expect claws and teeth to fly trying to get it back in .

    Always like reading you pieces ,thanks and be warm .

  3. Interesting to see how the IPCC/UNEP are now “weathering” the storm they’ve brewed/whipped up (take your pick!) for the past 20 years or so!

    Check out Pachauri’s script from “Statement by Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, to the Opening Session of the 40th Session of the IPCC Copenhagen, 27 October 2014″.

    If one didn’t know better, one might conclude that his words represent the epitome of rationality and moderation! No doubt someone is trying (perhaps?!) desperately to “reinvent” the public face of Pachauri and/or the IPCC.

    Among the conspicuous absences in this (relatively – considering his record of past scripted and unscripted performances!) merely mildly alarming performance is any mention of the heretofore obligatory “demon culprit”: carbon dioxide and its home-away-from-home: greenhouse gas(es)!

    But notice (as I have mentioned previously, on several occasions) the cloudiness (?!) of the increasingly close proximity of “sustainable” to “climate change”. Here’s a sample of Pachauri in voice of moderation mode:

    “This is not to say it will be easy. It won’t. A great deal of work and tall hurdles lie ahead. But it can be done. We still have time to build a better, more sustainable world. We still have time to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change.

    But we have precious little of that time.”

    We still have time to avoid the ‘severe decree’! And on the platitudinous front, he resorts to copy-cat mode, by invoking Gandhi:

    Let me close with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that sums up the history and experience of tackling difficult challenges. He said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    The world owes a profound debt of gratitude to all of you who have done so much to bring forth the knowledge required to meet this epic challenge.

    Amazing, eh?! But I strongly suspect that the Green Blob will not be pleased!

    P.S. Thanks for your comments and encouragement Keitho and Terry :-)

    • @guenier … Oh, but Robin … that’s a multi-year gap! I can beat this finding of yours:

      As I had summarized over four years ago re Pachauri and non “peer reviewed” literature …

      “Let’s retrace his path and watch his mouth – as his feet march right into it”:

      Nov. 9, 2009:

      “Let someone publish the data in a decent credible publication. I am sure IPCC would then accept it, otherwise we can just throw it into the dustbin.”

      Apr. 20, 2010:

      AR4 cited approximately 18,000 peer-reviewed publications. It also included a limited amount of gray (or non-peer-reviewed) literature

      May 14, 2010:

      He said the media and other sections of society had misunderstood the role of such information, labelling it grey literature, “as if it was some form of grey muddied water flowing down the drains”.

      A mere six month turn-around … give or take a few days;-)

    • Hmm … but here’s a ten month turn round (this time by Greenpeace):

      November 2013 – ‘Paris, December 2015, the 21st UN Climate Conference. The 2015 agreement must signal the beginning of an end to the fossil fuel era, as well as to deforestation and forest degradation. Governments must deliver a Protocol under which all countries take on binding emissions reduction commitments.’

      September 2014 – ‘The 2015 agreement will be different from those that came before. In the early years of climate negotiations, the focus was on setting ‘top-down’ targets, which drove national action. Today, the emphasis has shifted. Individual countries are being asked to come forward with their own ambitions and plans for carbon reduction.’

    • Hilary: I posted this Greenpeace (et al) about face in response to your comment – re Pachy’s ‘We still have time to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change’ – that ‘the Green Blob will not be pleased’. I disagree: I don’t think they’re likely to mind at all. Like the Great Man himself, the GB knows that COP21 in Paris will not bring about those ‘binding emissions reduction commitments’. So it, and he, are developing this ‘individual countries are being asked to come forward’ nonsense as a way of keeping the show on the road.

    • Robin: I don’t disagree! And as we saw a few weeks ago, it was the US’s Stern who planted this particular variant of the “individual countries …” seed. But, in my view, the GB is far too undisciplined, unpredictable, and brainwashed (if not brain-dead!) to count on their going along (to get along?!) with this.

      Not to mention the recent N.Y.C. antics. And I very much doubt that the UNEP’s head honcho (Achim Steiner) – whose term is up next year some time – is going to let this go without a major behind-the-scenes fight!

      But stepping back for a moment … it seems to me that ever since the almighty “consensus” collapsed (don’t hear too much about it anymore, do we – except from the third-raters such as Lew & Cook and their mindless intellectually dishonest ilk and other assorted Graun-buddies!), they’ve been trying a gambit a week to find a new mantra that will restore them to their pre-comatose status!

      And in every single instance I’ve looked at, they’ve had a helping hand from the UNEP (even if it’s been kind of hidden in the background!)

      But let’s not forget that the IPCC’s younger sibling, the IPBES, has been (relatively quietly) working away towards bringing “biodiversity” to the fore … much more in keeping with the overall imperatives of “sustainable development” which (as I speculated a few years ago), could quite easily take “climate change” under its umbrella!

      Not that I think their “mission” is far from impossible – nor do I think that Paris will yield anything other than yet another “mechanism” of keeping this ludicrous and costly show on the road!

      But when I see what the UN has done (and continues to do) to Israel [which IMHO is the “model” for what they’re doing to “skeptics”], I don’t think there’ll be any end to this re$ource-hogging nonsense until the genuine democracies of the world pull the plug on funding the UN and all its overgrown, ever-expanding, shape-shifting tentacles!

  4. An Op Ed by Pachauri, October 21st 2014

    “Let’s talk about the weather” – Hindustan Times

    “The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has clearly found that the warming of the climate system is unequivocal. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and the sea level has risen.

    Yet, despite a growing number of climate change mitigation policies, annual total anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) have continued to increase — and were the highest in human history from 2000 to 2010. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of GHG emissions.”

    Beyond the patter:

    “India as a developing country and with a large part of its population living in poverty cannot be expected to reduce its emissions of GHGs.”

    • Consistency does not appear to be a feature of anything that emanates from the IPCC and/or its ever-increasingly ill-informed (and/or utterly lazy!) but oh-so-dedicated army of allies in the MSM and elsewhere. With the notable related exceptions – since virtual time immemorial – of “it’s worse than we thought” along with the knee-jerk recycling of “we must have a carbon tax now” and/or variants thereof, of course!

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