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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
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
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.