Nick Nuttall, of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) told Reuters: “It will be [made up of] senior scientific figures. I can’t name who they are right now. It should do a review of the IPCC, produce a report by, say, August and there is a plenary of the IPCC in South Korea in October. The report will go there for adoption.”
He added: “There’s no review panel at the moment. Yesterday, it was clear from the member states roughly how they would like this panel to be – fully independent and not appointed by the IPCC, but appointed by an independent group of scientists themselves.”
The terms of references for the panel would be announced next week, he said. “I think we are bringing some level of closure to this issue.”
The IPCC reviews climate change science on behalf of the world’s governments. Its most recent report, in 2007, concluded that there was a 90% certainty that human activities are causing global warming.
Nuttall said the broader review of the IPCC would examine its use of reports from outside conventional academic journals, so-called ‘grey literature’. A report from campaign group WWF is blamed for introducing the false statement that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035 into the IPCC’s 2007 report.
Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP, said he did not support a ban on the use of grey literature and that the media had exaggerated the IPCC’s mistakes.
In a separate move, Ed Miliband, climate secretary, has written to the head of the IPCC to express UK concern over the mistake.
In a letter to IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri, Miliband says: “Mistakes such as the IPCC statements on Himalayan glaciers are inevitably damaging. This is a matter of concern because the reliability and good name of the IPCC is vital to ensuring all countries recognise the dangers of climate change.”
Miliband said the IPCC needed to thoroughly review its procedures and the way it responded to media criticism. It should also find a way to correct errors and to minimise future problems, particularly with reports drawn from grey literature.
“Clearly this is only the outline of a strategy,” the letter says. “There is a great deal of work to do in turning it into a detailed plan for change. The British government is happy to assist you in that process.”