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‘Busy’ IPCC ignored erroneous Himalayan glaciers report

world Updated: Jan 31, 2010 00:54 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Rajendra K Pachauri, head of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was informed about the UN body’s mistake with respect to Himalayan glaciers before the Copenhagen summit, but he failed to take any action. Reason: IPCC was busy preparing for the summit.

The IPCC had last week expressed regret for stating that most Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035.

In an interview published in Science magazine, Pachauri admitted for that first time that Pallav Bagla, a correspondent with the magazine, had informed him about the error in IPCC report on Himalayas in November 2009.

“We were working round the clock with several things that had to be done in Copenhagen. It was only when the story broke, I think in December, we decided to, well, early this month — as a matter of fact… that we decided to go into it and we moved very fast and within 3 or 4 days, we were able to come up with a clear and a very honest and objective assessment of what had happened,” Pachauri told the magazine.

Bagla told Hindustan Times that he had informed Pachauri that Grahman Cogley, a professor at Ontario Trent University and a lead glaciologist, had dismissed the IPCC claim of 2035 wrong by over 300 years. Cogley believed the IPCC had misread the date in a 1996 report of a Russian scientist, which said the glaciers could melt significantly by 2350.

Pachauri said as head of IPCC he took full responsibility for the mistake. “Unfortunately, in this case, we shouldn't have picked up the source we used for our assessment, and we have admitted that mistake. But I think the larger issue is that we really don’t have enough research-based information on what is happening to our glaciers. It’s a fact,” he said.

Pachauri had earlier told HT that admission of the mistake on part of IPCC enhanced its credibility and shows that it was a truly scientific body committed to the cause of climate change.

Will reduce emission, India tells UN

India told the United Nations (UN) on Saturday that it would reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by 20-25 per cent by 2020, excluding agriculture, as its “non-binding” domestic mitigation action under the Copenhagen Accord.

This comes a day after United States told UN that it would reduce its carbon emissions by 28 percent by 2020 off its 2008 levels, which actually meant just four per cent to the 1990 level. Europe had announced to reduce its emissions by 20 per cent of the 1990 levels by 2020.

The 26 countries, which had formulated the Copenhagen accord in December, had agreed to submit their mitigation action to UN by January 31.

“While these actions will be in the nature of India’s contribution to the global efforts to address climate change, India has clarified that its domestic mitigation actions will be entirely voluntary in nature and will not have a legally binding character,” the Environment and Forest ministry said in a statement.

India has also made it clear that its domestic mitigation actions will not apply to agriculture sector, which contributes 19 per cent to the country’s total green house gas emissions.