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UN Climate Change Panel Chairman to Stay
15 Oct 2010

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The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will retain Rajendra Pachauri as its chairman, and it will make several procedural changes to try to prevent future mistakes in its widely watched climate-science reports, the group said Thursday.

Mr. Pachauri presided as IPCC chairman over the preparation of a 2007 report that declared climate change "unequivocal" and "very likely" caused by human activity. Over the past year, a few errors in that report have surfaced, prompting criticism of the IPCC and calls by some for Mr. Pachauri to step down.

A review earlier this year by the InterAcademy Council, a global consortium of national science academies, called for "fundamental reform" at the IPCC, including limiting the terms of the panel's chairman and other top officials. The report didn't question the panel's basic conclusions about the causes of climate change, but it recommended several changes at the IPCC to minimize the chance for future errors.

Among those recommendations: The council said top IPCC officials should serve only six years, roughly the length of time the panel typically takes to prepare one of its major climate-science reports.

An IPCC meeting in South Korea that ended Thursday focused largely on responding to the council's recommendations. Mr. Pachauri said in a news conference that the IPCC had effectively endorsed his continuing as chairman through the completion of the panel's next major climate-science report, called the Fifth Assessment Report.

"I have every intention of staying right till I've completed the mission that I've accepted to carry out—namely, the completion of the Fifth Assessment Report in 2014," he said.

The IPCC is appointing a task force to consider the InterAcademy Council's recommendations that the chairman and other top officials be limited to one term, Mr. Pachauri he said. But aAny term-limit decision won't apply to people now in office, including him.

The IPCC agreed to several recommendations from the council, including tighter policies to reflect scientific uncertainty in its reports and to ferret out and fix any errors in them, panel officials said.

In particular, it will be more careful about ensuring that it lays out the evidence for any assertion it makes about the likelihood of any effect of climate change, said Chris Field, a U.S. scientist and a leader of the panel's 2014 report.

In the past, he said, IPCC reports sometimes projected the likelihood of potential climate-change effects, such as melting glaciers, without enough evidence. "There were some weaknesses in the application," he said.


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Source: Wall Street Journal