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Updated: March 25, 2010 17:42 IST

India suggests RTI for climate change bodies

Priscilla Jebaraj
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India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addresses the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark in December, 2009. India on Wednesday stated that it wants the IPCC to make greater efforts to enhance the participation of developing country scientists.
PTI
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addresses the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark in December, 2009. India on Wednesday stated that it wants the IPCC to make greater efforts to enhance the participation of developing country scientists.

Introduce the “Right to Information” to the U.N.'s climate change system, India has suggested to the body (Inter Academy Council) charged with bringing credibility and accountability to the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), the climate science panel which has been in the eye of a storm over the last few months.

India wants the IPCC to make greater efforts to enhance the participation of developing country scientists to improve the geographical balance of its reports. Every IPCC report should include a separate chapter including all divergent views. In fact, the entire draft report should be sent to all known “climate sceptics” during the review process, says the Indian note.

It also suggests an extra tier of scrutiny to review the “conclusions” emerging from the facts, in order to ensure objectivity, especially with regard to the influential Summary for Policymakers.

These are some of the suggestions contained in a note prepared by the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests, and sent to the co-chairs of the Inter Academy Council, a group of eminent scientists who have been asked to review the IPCC's processes. This independent review was commissioned after the IPCC came under severe fire for inaccuracies in its Fourth Assessment Report, including a false prediction that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035.

“While IPCC cannot be blamed for misuse of its findings by political leaders with their own agenda or by the media in search of headlines, there certainly are areas relating to the IPCC's working in which improvements can and should be made,” wrote Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh in the letter accompanying the note, dated March 22.

The IPCC should ensure that “grey literature” — information published in reports by governmental, global and non-governmental agencies — does not to carry the same weight as peer-reviewed scientific papers, says the note. Last-minute ideas that did not go through the comprehensive review process of the original draft should not be pushed through at the final draft stage.

India called for complete transparency. Everything — from the CVs of the scientists selected and rejected as experts, to all the literature cited in the reports, to all data and assumptions used for running climate models and projections — should be made available in the public domain on the IPCC website.

“[The] Need for confidentiality on contents during the IPCC report preparation is appreciated, but [the] need for extensive confidentiality on the process is not warranted. Maybe introduce a “Right to Information” system in whole IPCC and UNFCCC processes,” suggested the Ministry's note.

The Ministry also noted that data collection needs to be expanded from regions where information is lacking.

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