Peer seeks answers over climate change chairman

A prominent Tory peer has questioned why the government has not made stronger moves to replace the chairman of the international body set up to study global warming.

Baroness Noakes, the party's former Treasury spokeswoman, said that according to an independent report published this summer, the head of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should already have left his post.

The report by the InterAcademy Council found the IPCC, which reviews climate science for governments, needed to ensure it can handle more complex assessments of global warming and intense public scrutiny. Its work has come under fire in recent months following revelations of inaccuracies in the last assessment of global warming provided to governments in 2007, including the claim that the Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035.

Chairman of the IPCC Dr Rajendra Pachauri has been in post since 2002 and was elected for a second six-year term in 2008, but the report suggested a chairman should not remain in the role for more than the period taken to produce one climate science assessment.

Junior energy and climate change minister Lord Marland said at Question Time in the House of Lords that the government retained "confidence" in the leadership of the IPCC.

But Lady Noakes said: "The recent report by the InterAcademy Council laid bare the faulty processes in the IPCC which led to the ridiculous assertion about the melting of the Himalaya glacier.

"Their recommendation was that the IPCC chairman should not serve more than one term. That is to say the current incumbent should already have gone."

She questioned why the government had reached the position that it supports the present leadership and asked what representations had been made on the issue at the most recent IPCC meeting.

Lord Marland told her: "Let's look at the facts. This organisation won the Nobel Peace prize in 2007 and that should be commended. Of course, like many organisations, it will have growing pains and management issues and communication issues but it is an organisation that has 194 countries subscribing to it, so we can't just wave a magic wand and change things.

"An independent review was carried out of their activities and I'm very grateful to Sir Peter Williams who was Treasurer of the Royal Society for being on that committee.

"They found the management structure was weak, they found the communications was not adequate but they found the scientific evidence they were providing was highly relevant and frankly it is not for this government to decide how an organisation should be run.

"Dr Pachauri has accepted these recommendations and is going to implement them. He has an excellent relationship with emerging markets, which is very, very important in this particular aspect. He's an eminent Yale professor who is working for free."

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