Restating the IPCC’s reason for being


Dr R K Pachauri

As the latest meeting of the InterAcademy Council’s review into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change convenes in Montreal, IPCC chairman R K Pachauri says the past year has been “momentous” for the organisation, and not always for the right reasons. In this week’s Green Room, he sets out how and why the panel was established, and argues that it plays a vital role in the global climate policy debate.

Contrary to allegations made by some of our wilder critics, there is no role – and no desire – for an executive function making decisions of its own

IPCC chief defends climate body
I would like to start by saying that I am not deaf to those who do not agree with the scientific consensus on man-made climate change.

Nor, indeed, to those who do not agree with the findings – or, in some cases, the existence – of the IPCC.

Such scepticism is inevitable, and has been the case with every area of new knowledge that has burst into human consciousness.

We who are on the side of the consensus must remind ourselves that the evolution of knowledge thrives on debate.

The last year has been a momentous one indeed for the IPCC and climate science, and not always for the most welcome of reasons. The discovery of a mistake in our AR4 report – even as we prepared to start work on AR5 – led to considerable controversy.

It was, and is, inevitable that such an incident would lead to criticism and – quite rightly – to both internal and external examination.

However, at times in the last six months it has become apparent that many people either do not know, or have forgotten, what the IPCC actually is: what it was formed to do, who it reports to, and what its current mandate is.

Without that starting point – of understanding based in current and historical knowledge – there is a danger that the wrong conclusions can be drawn about the organisation’s future.

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Pachauri’s new found respect for scientific dissent and openness is in marked contrast to his wish in February 2010 that skeptics would “apply asbestos to their faces every day.” See: Flashback Feb. 2010: UN IPCC’s Pachauri Unhinged?! Wishes Skeptics Would Rub Asbestos on their Faces! ‘I hope that they apply it (asbestos) to their faces every day’