Dutch report seeks new principles and practices at IPCC

July 15, 2013
A pillar of global-warming alarm has come under criticism from a country with more than most at stake.

A pillar of global-warming alarm has come under criticism from a country with more than most at stake.

The Netherlands called for reform of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the creature of the United Nations and World Meteorological Organization considered by many to offer the final word on climate science.

IPCC has had problems since publication of its Fourth Assessment in 2007, which called planetary warming "unequivocal" and mostly blamed human activity.

The report famously contained large errors of fact and method that tilted conclusions toward the need for desperate attempts to arrest warming. The errors aggravated suspicion that politics influences IPCC reports.

After first trying to brush aside the mistakes as minor in comparison with the voluminous whole, the IPCC eventually yielded to an advisory group that recommended changes to how it works.

Another problem for IPCC is observed warming far below the scary projections of its computer models. Some data sets indicate a 15-year pause in global warming that the models can't explain.

With its credibility and authority thus under question, the IPCC now hears from the Dutch government that it should:

• Adjust its focus and organization to policy and societal needs.

• Adjust its principles.

• Provide more-transparent, focused, and up-to-date assessments.

• Focus more on interactions with societies.

• Reconsider the regionalization of the assessments, "aiming for an efficient division of work among relevant organizations."

• Submit to a task group formed to consider its future.

About principles, the Dutch report said, "We believe that limiting the scope of the IPCC to human-induced climate change is undesirable, especially because natural climate change is a crucial part of the total understanding of the climate system, including human-induced climate change."

The interplay of human and natural influences is foundationally important to climate-change science but often ignored by climate-change politics.

The Dutch observations gain weight coming from a country with much of its territory below sea level—but not as much as the IPCC Fourth Assessment reported.