The InterAcademy Council representing the world’s science academies released its much-anticipated review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Monday, recommending a beefed-up management infrastructure as well as various reforms for reviewing science, managing potential conflicts of interest and injecting fresh blood into the process (NYT, Financial Times).
“The IPCC has been successful overall, but fundamental changes are necessary to ensure its continued success,” said Harold Shapiro, a former president of Princeton University who chaired the IAC panel.
The review, requested jointly by the IPCC and the United Nations, recommends creating a more formal management structure consisting of a full-time executive director who reports to a board of directors. The IPCC chair – currently Rajendra Pachauri (shown here) – would lead the board, which would include IPCC leaders as well as representatives that might even hail from outside the climate community.
The report also recommended that all leadership positions rotate every assessment to regularly inject fresh thinking into the panel. It’s not entirely clear what this would mean for Pachauri, who was unanimously re-elected as chairman for the ongoing fifth assessment. Pachauri has come under fire for his handling of the crisis as well as alleged conflicts of interest due to his advisory roles with various energy companies and banks in the private sector. A recent external audit suggested there was no basis to the claims, however, and many see value in having his institutional expertise on board if the IPCC is to go about reforming its procedures.
The IAC recommended that the IPCC adopt a formal policy for conflicts of interest, which Pachauri said should apply to everybody from himself to lead authors. Other recommendations focus on bolstering the review process, handling scientific uncertainty and dealing with external queries and communications. The report will be taken up by member countries at the IPCC’s meeting in Busan, South Korea in mid-October.
Photograph: Ed Wray/AP