Put on notice, India's Pachauri tasked with carrying out IPCC reform

London, Oct.20 (ANI): Beleaguered Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chairman and noted Indian economist Dr. Rajendra Pachauri has reportedly been put on notice to carry out new guidelines and ensure a management restructure after weathering a storm of criticism about mistakes in the IPCC's most recent climate assessment report.

Pachauri's handling of the affair was compounded by allegations of conflicts of interest and he was under intense pressure to quit.

However, at the end of the IPCC's plenary meeting last week in Busan, South Korea, Pachauri remains firmly in charge.

The Nature magazine quoted Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and co-chair of the IPCC's working group on climate-change mitigation, as saying that Pachauri has been put on notice.

Edenhofer said: "Governments made it very clear that they expect him to make changes - both to improve the IPCC's climate assessments and to foster greater public and political confidence in its work."

"Delegates avoided talking about Pachauri's role," added Edenhofer.

Insiders said there was a fear that targeting Pachauri could provoke a confrontation between the IPCC's rich and poor member countries.

Instead, delegates in Busan focused in part on how to implement recommendations for reform from the Amsterdam-based InterAcademy Council (IAC), a consortium of national science academies.

In March, the United Nations - the IPCC's parent body - asked the IAC to carry out a review of the IPCC and propose organizational and procedural changes.

To restore some of the IPCC's lost credibility, and to make sure that its future assessments are more robust, the meeting eventually agreed on new guidelines, recommended by the IAC, on the use of non-peer-reviewed literature; on the characterization of scientific uncertainty; and on how to handle and correct errors.

In future, IPCC authors will use consistent terminology to qualitatively describe uncertainties, and will cross check more thoroughly the authenticity and robustness of data and information taken from 'grey literature' that has not been peer reviewed.

Most climate scientists say that errors in the assessment report - such as the notorious statement that all Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035 - do not undermine the scientific case that human activity is dangerously warming the planet. But such errors must be corrected quickly and transparently to preserve the IPCC's credibility, the IAC said, and climate scientists agree.

The IAC also proposed more far-reaching changes to the IPCC's management structure to streamline its decision-making. But delegates postponed any action pending the outcome of further investigation by several newly established task groups.

By January 2011, these groups will propose options for improving the IPCC's management structures, review procedures, communication strategies and conflict-of-interest policies.

The IPCC will decide how to implement these at its next plenary session, to be held in May 2011 in Abu Dhabi.

Pachauri is optimistic about the future. The IPCC, he says, is well prepared to march ahead towards producing a fifth assessment report by the end of 2014.

"Despite all the noise we have not wasted a single minute to do what the world expects us to do. I, for one, never lack the physical and mental energy that is required for the job," he said. (ANI)

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