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UN environment chief defends IPCC, slams climate sceptics

world Updated: Feb 08, 2010 17:49 IST

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The UN environment chief has come out in strong support of the embattled climate change panel led by R K Pachauri, hitting out at sceptics whose criticism of the body and its Indian chair, he said, had reached "witch-hunting proportions".

Contending that a "typographical error" was at the root of the glacier error, Achim Steiner said: "The IPCC is as fallible as the human beings that comprise it".

The 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change erroneously claimed that the Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035.

One original source of the IPCC report, he mentioned, had spoken of the world's glaciers melting by 2350, and not 2035 as came out in it, terming it a "typographical error".

The head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) criticised the pundits and media who were rejecting the reality of climate change blaming them for causing confusion among the public.

"Some strident voices are even dismissing climate change as a hoax on a par with the Y2K computer bug," he wrote in an op-ed piece of the Turkish national daily, Today's Zaman.

"As a result, public has become increasingly bewildered as unremitting questioning of the IPCC and its chair assumes almost witch-hunting proportions in some quarters," he added.

"Indeed, caution rather than sensation has been the panel's watchword throughout its existence," Steiner wrote, defending the IPCC.