Head defends UN climate panel at review

14th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The head of the United Nations' climate change panel defended the body Friday before an academic council charged with reviewing its research methods after a string of challenges to its findings.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), admitted an error was made in warning that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035, but said there was some value in the finding.

"Alright, there was this error, but there is a whole lot of valid information and assessment related to the glaciers which we can only ignore at our own peril and the peril of generations yet to come," he told a public meeting in Amsterdam of the InterAcademy Council (IAC), webcast live.

"Even if the Himalayan glaciers do not melt (by 2035), this is what is happening to the glaciers around the world."

Melting glaciers, said Pachauri, have "already contributed around 28 percent of sea level rise since 1993.... This is something that should cause concern."

The IPCC, made up of several thousand scientists tasked with vetting scientific knowledge on climate change, has come under fire from several quarters over its 2007 report.

Its reputation was damaged by its warning over melting Himalayan glaciers, a claim that has been widely discredited and fuelled scepticism about climate change.

More recently, it has been criticised for a finding that a one-metre (three-foot) rise in sea levels would flood 17 percent of Bangladesh and create 20 million refugees by 2050.

Critics said this ignored the role of at least one billion tonnes of sediment carried by rivers into Bangladesh every year, in countering sea level rises.

But Pachauri ascribed the silt argument to "non-peer reviewed research".

"You really can't take one single study like that into account," he told the review panel.

"There are several questions that have to be answered: will that level of siltation we see today continue in the future? Is that silt strong enough to withstand the threat of sea level rise?"

© 2010 AFP

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