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UN shies from correcting flaws

world Updated: Mar 12, 2010 00:28 IST
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An outside review of a UN panel — promised after flaws were uncovered in the panel’s most recent report on climate change — will not recheck that report’s conclusions and will instead focus on improving procedures for the future, officials said on Wednesday.

UN officials defended their decision, saying that there is still no reason to doubt the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In a report in 2007, the panel found unequivocal evidence that the climate was warming.

“Let me be clear: The threat posed by climate change is real,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at a news conference at UN headquarters in New York. “Nothing that has been alleged or revealed in the media recently alters the fundamental scientific consensus on climate change, nor does it diminish the unique importance of the IPCC work.”

But in Washington, Republican lawmakers said it is a mistake for the review not to delve more deeply into the U.N. panel’s workings to see whether it had committed other errors beyond those already known.

“This is only half the battle,” Senator James Inhofe, one of Congress’s most determined opponents of legislation to cap greenhouse gases, said in a statement. “A legitimate inquiry must look back and examine the science in the assessment reports, and not just the mistakes that have been uncovered thus far.”

Also on Wednesday, University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke Jr., a past critic of the UN panel, said that a re-examination of the earlier report might restore credibility to climate science.

In recent months, scientists have questioned several items in the report. In one case, the panel said incorrectly that Himalayan glaciers were expected to melt by 2035.

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