“If Toyota recalls some cars because of a faulty foot pedal, does that mean all their cars are faulty?”
With that analogy, the United Nations’ top climate-change official on Thursday firmly backed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, now under fire for erroneously claiming Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035.
“Asking him (Pachauri) to take responsibility for a single mistake, which he has, and resign is sensless,” said Yvo de Boer, a Dutch diplomat who has been in charge of global climate-change negotiations since 2007. “I hope he doesn’t resign, he would be a fool (to do so).”
Stressing that the glacier mistake was the only one in the 3,000-page report, de Boer said climate science, given its uncertainties and complexities, needs to be constantly questioned to make it more robust.
De Boer, executive secretary of the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change, a treaty that 193 nations adopted 18 years ago to tackle climate change, pointed out that the IPCC, set up to evolve a consensus on global warming, does no research, which is done by 2,400-odd scientists.
Though he was not as explicit as Pachauri in accusing companies and countries denying climate change of running a campaign against the IPCC, de Boer said companies “are becoming more concerned” as “the stakes get higher”.
“I don’t know if there is a campaign, but there is serious action being taken by companies threatened by climate change,” he said.
Under attack since the Copenhagen conference in December 2009, particularly from some western media, Pachauri in an interview to HT earlier this week had blamed allegations against him, the IPCC and his lifestyle on global lobbies “threatened” by the costs of climate change.
De Boer described Pachauri as a “tall tree that can collect lot of wind (of criticism)”. “He has led the IPCC in a very dedicated sort of way,” he said.
The global answers to climate skeptics, said de Boer, were the commitments to reduce greenhouse gases submitted after Copenhagen by 56 countries that contribute to 78 per cent of global warming. He was happy that India and China had submitted their mitigation action by December 31.
“After (these) commitments, we have to build the architecture of a climate agreement,” he said. The UNFCCC will organise a series of international meetings this year to prepare the grounds for a possible treaty in Mexico in December 2010.