January 25, 2007
IPCC, Policy Neutrality, and Political Advocacy
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics | The Honest Broker
We have commented in the past here about how the leadership of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has flouted its own guidance to be "policy neutral" by engaging in overt political advocacy on climate change. The comments by its Director Rajendra Pachauri reported today again highlight this issue:
I hope this [forthcoming IPCC] report will shock people, governments into taking more serious action as you really can't get a more authentic and a more credible piece of scientific work.
Imagine, by contrast, if the Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, another organization with an agenda to be "policy neutral," were reported in the media to say of the agency’s latest assessment on Iran, "I hope that the report will shock people, governments into taking more serious action." He would be looking for a new job in no time, I am sure. Why should climate change be treated differently?
The past reaction to my comments on political advocacy by IPCC leadership has been mixed. Some who share the IPCC's advocated agenda see no problem in the IPCC leadership engaging in such advocacy. Who wouldn’t want such a group perceived as authoritative and legitimate on their side? (Similarly, I am sure neo-cons would welcome a CIA Director advocating action on Iran!) By contrast some opposed to the advocated agenda have seized upon the obvious inconsistency in the IPCC’s views on "neutrality" to try to impinge the credibility of the organization. From my perspective, while both of these perspectives are to be expected (and I am sure will make their views known in response), there is a third view that matters most -- and that is the question of the appropriate role of organized expertise in decision making, whether it is the CIA or IPCC. This last view is quite independent of (or it should be) what one thinks about the issues of climate policy.
It seems obvious that if the IPCC leadership is inconsistent in its statements on "policy neutrality" then it does risk becoming perceived as an organized interest, not unlike an NGO, which will eat away at its own authority and independence, which derives in no small part from its claims to "neutrality." The IPCC could correct this perception (or reality) of inconsistent behavior by removing its goal of being "policy neutral" and openly admit a political agenda that it is advocating. Alternatively, the IPCC's leaders could eschew public discussions of what they prefer for political outcomes. Neither of these options seems particularly realistic. A formal departure from stated "neutrality" would harm the IPCC’s credibility, so it won’t do that. And the temptation to use scientific authority as a tool of politics is very strong, and won’t stop unless scientific leaders in the IPCC suggest that it should stop.
The best option of all, and which I recognize is fanciful dreaming on my part, would be for the IPCC to present decision makers with a wide range of policy options and their consequences, recognizing that the IPCC is an advisory body, not an advocacy group. There should be room in public discourse on climate change for an authoritative group to comprehensively assess options and their consequences, recognizing that advisors advise and decision makers decide. The tension between the IPCC's stated objective of "policy neutrality" and behavior by its leaders that is decided "non-neutral" is unlikely be sustainable. The IPCC should come to grips with what it means by "policy neutral."
"The IPCC should come to grips with what it means by "policy neutral.""
As always, the crux of the matter is in definitions. You have defined policy advocate to include the most ambiguous expressions of "we should do something". I respectfully suggest that, while it may well be technically correct in the halls of social science academia, it is simply not what most of us mean when we say "policy advocate".
Your accusations of some sort of hypocrisy rest entirely on the assumption that everyone shares your definitions. Most people do not consider "we should take action" to be advocating a policy at all.
This is the root of your self-confessed bafflement over why people see a difference between that statement and say, "we should switch all our coal fired electric generating plants to wind farms".
Do you have some examples of specific policies, like "govt's must sign the Kyoto accords" from IPCC directors?
Posted by: coby at January 25, 2007 10:58 AM
Coby- Thanks for your comments.
On advocacy of specific policies, see:
I'll bite, how do you define "policy neutral"?
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at January 25, 2007 11:39 AM
You may be for that. (For the record, I'm an energy tax and have been for various sorts of energy taxes since late 70s.)
But saying, "we must not continue the current policies" is not policy neutral. It eliminates an option.
Posted by: Margo at January 25, 2007 12:12 PM
Thanks for the link, it brought up a page of posts going all the way back to April, 2004. Between today's date and Nov 1, 2006 there are no less than 76. I consider that the debating equivalent of throwing a handful of sand in your opponent's face! I know that you level this accusation frequently, but I was really hoping for something specifically relevant to my question!
How do I define policy neutral? Fair question. (Too bad, I was so enjoying the easier task of poking holes in other people's definitions! ;)
I daresay "policy neutral" is one of those concepts where the only possible comprehensive definitions for it in its most abstract meaning render it a useless term. That is to say, the purest definition - having no preferences for any policy over any other and even no preference for any goals or set of goals over any other - is one that no living breathing human being could conceivably subscribe to. It requires having no values, no aspirations, no ethics.
So to avoid defining such a term out of a useful existence, policy neutral can only have meaning within a specific context. For example, if you are sitting at a meeting and there are five proposed policy options on the table and you have no preference of one over any other, you are policy neutral within this context.
Now, of coures, the five that were on the table must have come from somewhere, but to be policy neutral, and human, you must already be looking at a limited set of options.
So let me try to bring this into its specific context here. I believe that one can be policy neutral even though they believe that climate change is an urgent problem that needs to be dealt with. Someone could be policy neutral because they have no particular convictions about how addressing climate change should be done: nuclear energy, CO2 sequestration, drastic lifestyle changes, combinations of approaches, etc.
I believe that I am not alone in thinking this way, and in fact it is you who need to "come to grips" with what others mean by policy neutral. They way you have defined and use this term (I have no doubt that it is consistent with your field's usage btw) means that the simple desire to avoid large scale human suffering makes you a policy advocate.
This is really splitting semantic horsehairs while the fossil fuels burn.
Posted by: coby at January 25, 2007 12:30 PM
Coby- Ease up, please. No sand in face, you simply didn't let the page load long enough to take you to the post. Apologies for the round-about link. This one is faster:
Substantive rpely next. Thanks.
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at January 25, 2007 12:54 PM
Apologies, Roger. Promise I will read it, thanks.
Posted by: coby at January 25, 2007 01:03 PM
Thanks for your response. You write:
"I believe that one can be policy neutral even though they believe that climate change is an urgent problem that needs to be dealt with."
Sorry, but this is nonsense, as it fails to acknowledge the options (which do exist in real debates) based in a view that climate change is not an urgent problem needing to be dealt with. Such people do exist and have a political voice. Given that business as usual is a leading policy option in countries around the world, defining policy neutral in terms of alternatives to BAU is a decision to be explicit political agenda!
There is nothing wrong with having a political agenda. the problem I have is scientists (and more importantly science institutions) that claim not to have such agendas when they clearly do. This leads to a pathological politicization of science, where political arguments take place under the guise of science,as I've often said.
A corresponding example, hypothetical of course, would be Fox News saying that they are "neutral" in the 2008 presidential race, and that they have decided to focus only on Republican candidates. They are "neutral" because they have no particular convictions about which Republican candidate is chosen president. How is this any different from your example in climate change?
Anytime policy options are taken off the table it is decidedly not "neutral" -- at least as most people would understand the term, and not just wonky social scientists.
Care to try again?
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at January 25, 2007 01:06 PM
Even outside the climate change issue, in most instances, when one advocates "the government must do something" to fix a problem, you'd find Libertarians telling you they prefer "do nothing".
While Libertarians may form a minority, and many may think them misguided, it's pretty clear they would rather forcefully tell you eliminating the "do nothing" option is not policy neutral.
Posted by: Margo at January 25, 2007 01:22 PM
Maybe you worry too much.
Pachauri undermines the second part of his sentence by his first part:
I hope this [forthcoming IPCC] report will shock people, governments into taking more serious action as you really can't get a more authentic and a more credible piece of scientific work.
How can anyone take this seriously? Pachauri is just a clown.
Posted by: Richard Tol at January 25, 2007 01:52 PM
To me it's pretty simple.
If the IPCC was policy neutral, they'd make a stamenent like" We think the earth's temparute is going to increase by 3 degrees by 2100". The end.
Outside our country, it's become a proxy battle against the big bad hegemonic USA. Inside the country, it's become a proxy battle against the big, bad, oil companies.
Sadly, that makes the science coming out of the IPCC very dubious.
Posted by: TOM at January 25, 2007 02:01 PM
Regarding the practical impacts of failures of "policy neutrality". I feel these issues on a deeper level which goes to an underlying value in science. I speak of the concept of "intellectual integrity". I think it is worthwhile every so often to 'name the elephant in the middle of room'. For people on on all sides of the debate (including those of us who think of ourselves as being appropriately skeptical) questions of intellectual integrity seem to be implicated quite often.
I know that when the intellectual integrity of a spokesman is questioned it raises a deep viseral reaction in me. Especially when science and scientists are involved, the reaction goes beyond the issue at hand to a sense of a betrayal of a code and a core value. I get a sinking, heartsick feeling. Even when the person is on my "side", when intellectual integrity is violated I sometimes find myself wishing they would fall on their sword or go represent some other cause. When the violation of integrity seems serious I don't want them on my 'team'. I don't want them in the same league, I don't want them even playing the same game.
This is clearly a values issue. And it's a place where the philosophy of science comes to the fore. On a personal level I see the fundamental values of integriy in science as a 'light on the hill'. Violate the integrity of science and you have put my salvation as it were in jepardy.
So much of the talk about policy and honest brokers reads to me as being utilitarian in it's focus. I think it is worthwhile to occassionaly remind ourselves of a deeper ethical component as well. I like what I have read about your honest broker concepts Roger because I see them as a win on both levels -- the utilitarian and the ethical, the pragmatic and the philosophical.
Posted by: Cortlandt at January 25, 2007 03:10 PM
Roger, I think you are just missing my points. You quoted a single assertion and addressed it almost as if I had not followed and preceeded it with all the reasons I believe it. Surely there are some specifics in my logical train or some unfounded assumptions you can isolate?
FWIW, I think that someone who does not believe that climate change is occurring OR anthropogenic OR potentially dangerous is as equally policy neutral as my hypothetical AGW-convinced, but solution neutral character.
"No mitigation policy required" is just as neutral as "any mitigation policy".
To illustrate this, you could easily have a person who thinks the IPCC science is a bunch of balogna but thinks we should take immediate and drastic action to reduce fossil fuel burning. You could have a person who thinks IPCC is dead on but American hegemony and survival of the fittest is paramount regardless of what the planet will be like. Clearly disdain for the IPCC consensus is *not* policy determinant, just as acceptance of it is not. What it determines is whether ar not you even want to enter the discussion.
The question of whether or not anthropogenic climate change is occurring or not is a scientific one and not a political one. You can not even begin a discussion of climate change policy until all participants agree on what reality is, at least to some degree.
Margo, I would consider an anarchist to be policy neutral as you have set up the situation. If you do not believe any policies should be enacted about anything then you can not participate in a policy discussion, your discussion is an entirely different subject.
To reiterate, this is all a necesary consequence of defining policy neutral within a certain context. I believe my point stands that if you do not limit this phrase to having meaning only within some agreed upon context it has been defined to be something that can not exist. There is simply no table large enough on which to leave truly "all options".
Can someone lay out a policy neutral position ala RPJr on climate change for me please?
Posted by: coby at January 25, 2007 03:11 PM
"Can someone lay out a policy neutral position ala RPJr on climate change for me please?"
There are several answers to this question. But one is to present a smorgasbord of options serving a wide range of different objectives. You are correct that ALL options cannot fit on the table.
To be concrete there is a difference in the following:
a) Vote Obama!!
Which one is "neutral"? Seems like "c" has potential to fit that bill.
Much more can be said, and it is in The Honest Broker . . .;-)
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at January 25, 2007 03:20 PM
Coby- To get to your logical train, I fall off at step one when you suggest:
"the purest definition - having no preferences for any policy over any other and even no preference for any goals or set of goals over any other - is one that no living breathing human being could conceivably subscribe to. It requires having no values, no aspirations, no ethics."
I reject this definition (which in fact dictates where you end up. I do discuss this perspective in my book (as "pure science") but as you note, it has no place in policy or politics which are all about making values commitments.
An alternative way to look at neutrality is in terms of diversity.
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at January 25, 2007 03:25 PM
You seem to be confusing beliefs and policies.
I'm fairly certain you would cease to consider a true no-government-libertarian leaning-anarchist "policy neutral", when you proposed a policy that involved getting the government to "do something", and they blocked it. Then you proposed another, and they blocked it. And then things continued in this fashion until you find that social security has vanished because the anarcho-libertarian thinks welfare should all be done through private charity, public schools were all privatized, and the local sewage treatment plant was now a private enterprise. The hypothetical anarcho-libertarian knows his proposals aren't "policy neutral"!
I can't agree when you say "There is simply no table large enough on which to leave truly "all options"." The "table" is a metaphor, and can presumably be as large or small as one wishes it to be.
But regardless of the size of the metaphorical table, neither advocating to remove a group of options from the table nor advocating these options never reach the table are "policy neutral".
What I don't understand is this: Why do you want to call these actions "policy neutral"?
As to this:
I can't speak for Roger, but I would think the following is a policy neutral position about global climate change :
Notice the what believe 'X' is has nothing to do with the policy advocated. "X" could be replaced with 'a fact', 'a big myth', 'unproven' or anything you want. It's the "We have no opinion" that makes the position policy neutral.
For completeness, the true-flaming-zero-government-libertarian policy would likely be:
"Our panel believes AGW is 'X' and we recommend the government does absolutely nothing about it."
Posted by: Margo at January 25, 2007 03:58 PM
Roger, you reject:
"the purest definition - having no preferences for any policy over any other and even no preference for any goals or set of goals over any other"
yet your example "c" above certainly seems aimed at this. Can you outline what your definition is then? What if I had left off the part about goals?
And by the way, it is trivially easy to argue that "c" is in no way policy neutral because embeded within it is acceptance of the current method of chosing US presidents. You have left the option of reform to a parlimentary system off the table (to name just one). Therefore it is not policy neutral. We could do that all day, but I think you have already conceded the entire debate by acknowledging that no table is big enough for all options. Thus "policy neutral" is not an acheivable state in reality.
Posted by: coby at January 25, 2007 04:09 PM
I didn't initially frame it in these terms but this could be thought of as a question of professional ethics.
Another quote from the Reuter's article that doesn't seem policy neutral.
Start quote: "I think the sceptics on climate change will continue, but the good news is that their numbers and their effectiveness is on the decline," Pachauri said.
"The gaps in knowledge will always be there in science but you use your judgement and that's what good policy is all about ... If you take action, the benefit is that you might actually be minimising the harmful impacts of global warming."
-1- Commenting on the "effectiveness" of the "skeptics on climate change" seems to me to be a dangerous strategy if policy neutrality is the goal.
As with all statements that reported and edited by others one would like to see a unedited transcript or watch the interview on CSPAN.
Posted by: Cortlandt at January 25, 2007 04:13 PM
I suggest comparing these position papers discussing other problems.
People who are asked to study a question often do find there is a problem, not merely a neutral answer.
Examples, read them for tone and feeling.
Posted by: hank at January 25, 2007 04:36 PM
Coby- Thanks, when you start getting post-modern on me I know we are making progress!
I would agree with this part of your definition, "having no preferences for any policy over any other" if you had added "with respect to the issue being decided" (and more subtly maybe said "expressing" rather than "having").
So in the case of the presidential election of course there is some acceptance of the political system when providing a complete set of candidates. Within this framing one can indeed be "policy neutral."
With respect to climate change the issue being assessed by the IPCC is, from its website:
"The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation."
_Within this framing_ it describes its mission as "policy neutral." Nowhere in its mandate do I see any basis for concluding that its mandate is about shocking the bejesus out of people, or about getting governments to act. It could have such a mandate, but it does not. It could eschew making a claim to being neutral, but it does not. (If you know of claims by the IPCC to the contrary, please point them out.)
So long as the IPCC has a mandate which delineates its role in terms of "options for mitigation and adaptation" and claims to be "policy neutral" I maintain that this provides clear guidance on the terms of its relationship with decision makers. If the IPCC wants to work as an NGO to compel certain outcomes, then it should say so explicitly.
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at January 25, 2007 05:05 PM
Hank- Thanks, do any of those groups have a stated goal of policy neutrality on those issues? (I simply don't know.)
Cortlant- Thanks for your comments, as usual. It would indede be good to see the full transcript. Though over the past few years we do have a lot of Dr. Pachauri making similar statements.
Richard T.- Care to say more? ;-)
Margo- Thanks -- It is indeed important to recognize that "do nothing" is always a policy option, no matter how big the table. Given how often business as usual is used as a foil in climate policy discussions, it is ironic that it would be defined out of discussions.
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at January 25, 2007 05:13 PM
The statement that "we must take action" and its various iterations steps away from "policy neutrality" by making the assumption that the political/moral/ethical/economic cost of doing nothing is greater than the political/moral/ethical/economic cost of the various actions that could be taken. In corrective measures studies or feasibility studies for environmental remediation, the "do nothing" case is always presented (or it should be). That allows an evaluation of the "cost" of doing nothing versus the benefits derived from the "cost" of taking some action. Since to my knowledge, IPCC WG1 has not considered the myriad benefits and costs (political/moral/ethical/economic) of climate change resulting from various scenarios of "action" or inaction in any detailed manner (and yes there are benefits to any scenario including the "no action" case), then making the statement that the intent of the SPM is to "shock governments into action" goes beyond neutrality by assuming that the cost of action now is better than the later costs of inaction. In the absence of a detailed analysis proving that statement to be true, the only possible way to interpret what he is saying is to assume that he is not neutral about the policy he believes is appropriate (action).
Additionally, since a large part of the argument for action is moral and ethical in nature, stating that "we should take action" is a value judgement that is not a matter that can be considered as a part of a "scientific" assessment. There is no science that can tell us what is morally right or wrong. That is a political and moral decision that should be left to the policymakers instead of the scientific working group.
I don't know if preventative action now is a better choice than adaptive reaction later and neither does the IPCC working group. Statements by the head of the group that imply otherwise jeopardize the groups appearance of impartiality and raise questions about the manner in which the science is evaluated and presented. If the leadership of the working group has abandoned their veil of neutrality in presenting their latest findings, how are we to know if they maintained their neutrality in considering the scientific resources used to reach their conclusions? I agree with Roger...they would be better off presenting a range of scenarios between no action and maximum feasible action and the range of predicted outcomes of each, with no implied preference for any option. That would be truer to the "neutrality" that the panel is supposed to maintain. That the state of the predictive science is not yet adequate to perform such a forecasting exercise with any degree of accuracy is quite another discussion altogether, but underscores the folly of abandoning neutrality with so much still left unknown.
Posted by: Bill F at January 25, 2007 05:21 PM
Roger, what do you think of what I hear is the IPCC plan of releasing the 4AR actual science 3 months after the Summary for Policy Makers.
The procedure appears to call for the working group reports to be modified to agree with the politically drafted Summary:
See especially the last sentence below:
"Reports to be accepted by the Working Groups, and reports prepared by the Task Force on National Greenhouse
Posted by: Steve Reynolds at January 25, 2007 05:37 PM
Steve- Thanks for your question.
My take is that the IPCC leadership would not be so dumb so as to change the report at his stage in any meaningful way to match the SPM. Why do I think this?
1) There are plenty of draft copies of the report floating around and it would be easy enough for someone to identify such changes. And people will be watching, that is certain.
2) The IPCC has been down this road before, and surely has corporate memory (and some participants the real thing)***
3) The IPCC lives on its authority and legitimacy; changing the substance report to suit politically negotiated conclusions would just about kill it, which is not in anyone interests, most of all the IPCC!
But I could be wrong, we'll know in a few months.
***Lahsen, M., 1999. The Detection and Attribution of Conspiracies: The Controversy over Chapter 8. In G.E. Marcus (ed.) Paranoia within reason : a casebook on conspiracy as explanation, University of Chicago Press, pp. 111-136.
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at January 25, 2007 05:45 PM
A decided different perspective found in a BBC report:
"Professor Mike Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, believes that when the IPCC report comes out next week, there will be a big difference between the science it contains and the climate debate in the UK.
"The IPCC is not going to talk about tipping points; it's not going to talk about 5m rises in sea level; it's not going to talk about the next ice age because the Gulf Stream collapses; and it's going to have none of the economics of the Stern Review," he said.
"It's almost as if a credibility gap has emerged between what the British public thinks and what the international science community think."
When we put this comment to Sir Nicholas Stern, he replied: "The IPCC is a good process but it does depend on consensus and it means that they have to be quite cautious in what they say."
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at January 25, 2007 05:49 PM
The answer seems to be: "No way, Jose!" Not only don't they claim policy neutrality. All three have clearly stated non-neutral policy missions!
The Nuclear Control Institute, founded in 1981, is a research and *advocacy* center for preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. (More here http://www.nci.org/ -- click about us.)
The link to fas (http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/ocp8.htm) shows us paper written by a Guy Roberts of the USAF Institute for National Security Studies US Air Force Academy. Generally speaking, military services, and their affiliated institutes are not expected to take policy neutral stances. They are expected to take proactive steps to protect the american public!
FAS itself is an advocacy group. See http://www.fas.org/static/about.jsp
Posted by: Margo at January 25, 2007 08:05 PM
If I get you right your position is that a scientist can't be just a little bit of a policy advocate. Once you are in the game, at least for public perception, you will be considered to be completely in the game. That perception will have repercussions. Its an understandable position.
Kind of like you can't be a little pregnant ;)
Posted by: Joseph O'Sullivan at January 25, 2007 11:42 PM
Roger said, after quoting comments about the upcoming IPCC AR4: “Cautious? Shocking?”
I suspect Roger called these characterizations out because they seemed contradictory, but I think they aren’t necessarily. IPCC WG1 is a pretty cautious (i.e. conservative) presentation of the scientific consensus. Human beings living here, concerned about possible risks posed to the world their children will be living in, may be shocked that such a cautious summary of the scientific consensus could be so clear about how great those risks may be.
I know some deeply knowledgeable climate scientists who have become increasingly concerned that IPCC, by its very nature as a consensus document, is actually *too* cautious for a summary that is intended to be policy relevant. They think that the need for consensus tends to drive IPCC to underplay the possibilities of extreme climate changes that most humans would consider bad. Not that they think such extremes *will* happen, but that their risk is underplayed.
Posted by: Scott Saleska at January 26, 2007 12:46 AM
Roger, I think your criticisms of Pachauri are entirely correct, and he would do everyone a big service by shutting his clam on how nations should be responding to the latest report.
The IPCC should simply be reporting the science, except to the extent it has been requested by member states to articulate or evaluate particular policy proposals.
Even with the bounds of this, there is a fair amount of room for the IPCC to report the lates science in relatively, attention-grabbing stark terms.
However, I would note my disagreement with you about the acceptability of science academies and other professedly neutral scientific groups to police the science, by providing information on who funds various groups that report on the science for public consumption.
Posted by: TokyoTom at January 26, 2007 02:55 AM
Roger, can you kindly rescue my first comment from your filter?
Though I am with you on your criticisms of Pachauri, I wonder if you care to make any didactic points by further commenting on the remarks of Hawking and Lord Rees (president of the Royal Society) at the conference organised by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists at the RS last week? http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article2162862.ece
Posted by: TokyoTom at January 26, 2007 03:10 AM
I don't think Roger is saying you can't be "a little bit" of an advocate. My impression is Roger saying that if you decree you are not an advocate then you shouldn't advocate.
I think he is also saying, you shouldn't pretend to be arguing scientific points when you are really arguing about policy. That messes up both the science and the advocacy.
Posted by: Margo at January 26, 2007 05:25 AM
I think you are only scratching the surface of a huge political problem.
Have a look at the political meddling by the UNFCCC in national politics. Not only is the UNFCCC not ‘policy neutral’ - it’s not even pretending to be neutral when it comes to party politics of individual member states.
Its executive secretary, Yvo de Boer, has directly intervened recently in a highly charged economic controversy in Canada about the potential burden of the Kyoto Protocol:
"A top United Nations official is challenging Prime Minister Stephen Harper's claim that immediate action to fight climate change by honouring the Kyoto Protocol would translate into disaster for the Canadian economy. "No, I don't think it would devastate the Canadian economy, if Canada were to make optimal use of the instruments that are available under the international agreement," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in a telephone interview....."
There can be little doubt to any observer that Yvo de Boer is effectively supporting Canada's green and opposition parties on the contentious issue of Kyoto. In so doing, he has directly assisted the opposition in its present attempt to bring down the Canadian government and force new elections.
I wonder how long governments will put up with unelected climate bureaucrats playing party politics?
Posted by: Benny Peiser at January 26, 2007 06:57 AM
Benny- Thanks for your comments. However this post is about the IPCC (not UNFCCC). The UNFCCC has no goal of being "policy neutral" nor should it or could it, it is a policy regime. It does, however, have its own issues. Thanks.
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at January 26, 2007 08:04 AM
Scott- Thanks. I too am aware of similar concerns about the IPCC. The consensus sword cuts both ways! As Mike Hulme suggested in the BBC, I share the view that much public opinion has run out ahead of the science, and the forthcoming IPCC will seem tame in comparison.
Margo- Thanks, you've captured my views perfectly!
Tom- Thanks, glad you agree. On science academies, I'd suggest the same standards -- if they want to investigate funding they should be comprehensive rather than single out a particular player in the debate. UCS has the luxury of engaging in such skirmishes, the RS does not (at least if it wants to preserve perceptions of neutrality, it may not). I'll look at the link that you shared, thanks.
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. at January 26, 2007 08:15 AM
Interesting polarization in this thread. The biggest realization is the amount of confusion by the activists between CO2 and total AGW. The CO2 magnitude is obvously overrated:
The question then being: How much *good* would CO2 emission control (not to mention trading schemes) really do, considering the bigger picture of the biosphere? Those who think we actually know are confused.
Posted by: Steve Hemphill at January 26, 2007 09:54 AM