IPCC chief Pachauri, experts disagree on whether it needs to be nimbler to be more effective

November 30th, 2007 - 6:03 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov.30 (ANI): Two scientists have urged the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to become a nimbler body if it is to remain relevant in the coming years.
Until now, the IPCC has produced a set of reports over the course of a year, once every five or six years.
But waiting until 2012 for another summary report isn’t an option, argues Frank Raes, a climate scientist with the European Commission’s Institute for Environment and Sustainability in Ispra, Italy, and one of two authors on the Science commentary.
“We cannot wait another five, seven years for an assessment,” he says. “We have to act.” Action, he argues, will require swifter input from the IPCC.
“Rather than just elucidating the climate problem, it’s got to be more focused on solutions,” Raes added.
“It’s an open debate, and this is the right time to have it really,” says Peter Cox, a climate modeller with the Met Office at the University of Exeter, UK.
“In some sense, we’ve taken step one of the IPCC path, which is to demonstrate that climate change is an issue and that it’s due to human activities.” Step two, Cox says, is to reorganize the process “from end to end” around adaptation and mitigation.
“Rather than just elucidating the climate problem, it’s got to be more focused on solutions,” he adds.
IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri is currently circulating a paper discussing the panel’s future and raising questions about structural reforms - including whether there should be more targeted assessments or fewer comprehensive assessments.
He says he personally sees no need for major changes.
Major assessments on the order of five or six years will remain useful, he says, while IPCC can respond to demand from policy makers with targeted assessments as needed.
“We definitely need a larger social science dimension,” he says, as well as more analysis of economic impacts of adaptation and mitigation. “That’s my personal view, but I will be guided by what governments want.”
The IPCC currently has one working group that assesses the basic science of global warming, a second working on risks and adaptation, and a third analyzing mitigation options.
That system could continue to provide broad assessments on a longer timeline, Raes says, but policy questions about how to treat bio-fuels and deforestation require a more integrated approach.
Martin Parry, who co-chairs the IPCC’s second working group, says there is broad acknowledgement that faster, targeted assessments will be needed.
But he adds that there is still a role for a body that produces broad scientific assessments independent of the policy process.
“I’m somewhat skeptical of integrated assessments,” Parry says.
The IPCC could also shift its timing, such that one of the working groups releases a report every two years, as opposed to all three releasing simultaneous reports, says Cox.
Pachauri says he hopes the IPCC’s future can be discussed and ultimately settled when the panel meets in April 2008, so the new leadership has a “clear mandate” when it takes office in September 2008. (ANI)

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