Tuesday, May 04, 2010

IPCC panel of "experts" to be audited

It will be very interesting to read the results of the IPCC review by none other than Economist Harold Shapiro who is a youthful 74 years of age.

I have often wondered how the IPCC was set up given the inclusion of a rather motley crue of academics.

Clearly there were too few economists (hint hint to Harold).

Former Princeton Head To Review U.N. Climate Panel [PlanetArk]
A former president of Princeton University will lead a review of the U.N. panel of climate scientists after errors in a 2007 report used as a guide for fighting global warming, science academies said on Monday.

Economist Harold Shapiro, 74, will chair the 12-member committee that is due to report by August 30 on the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

"We approach this review with an open mind," Shapiro said in a statement of the committee appointed by the Amsterdam-based InterAcademy Council (IAC), which groups national science academies.

Canadian-born Shapiro is a former president both of Princeton and the University of Michigan. Other committee members include Mario Molina, a Nobel Chemistry Prize winner and Maureen Cropper, a former lead economist at the World Bank.

In January, the IPCC acknowledged that its latest report in 2007 exaggerated the pace of melt of Himalayan glaciers by saying they might all disappear by 2035. In February, it said it also over-stated how much of the Netherlands was below sea level.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the review in March after controversy around the IPCC mistakes eroded trust. People who doubt human activities are warming the planet say the reports are biased to exclude alternative views.

Ban has reaffirmed key IPCC conclusions that it is at least 90 percent certain that human activities are the main cause of climate change in recent decades that is set to bring more heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

The review committee will have its first meeting in Amsterdam on May 14-15. Roseanne Diab, executive officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa, will serve as vice chair. Other members will be from countries including China, India, Brazil, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and Malaysia.

Issues to be reviewed include "data quality assurance and control; the type of literature that may be cited in IPCC reports; expert and government review of IPCC materials; handling of the full range of scientific views; and the correction of errors," it said.

The committee would also review "other processes, including management functions and communication strategies."


Carbon induced trade wars

A story right up Globalisation and the environment's street. Trade wars are always ugly and often fiendishly complicated.

It is fine for the EU to rant about imposing tariffs on imports from polluting countries but one must ask who exactly is producing these products. Often it will be EU multinationals so the EU is taxing its own companies (who will lobby hard against such a policy).

Moreover, these imports are consumed by EU citizens. It is our quest for greater and greater material consumption that is causing part of the pollution in the first place.

I can say now categorically that this scheme will not work and should be abandoned as soon as possible. There are other solutions.

Carbon Tariffs On Imports Risk Trade War: EU Study [PlanetArk]
The European Union is considering border tariffs on imports from more polluting countries, but an initial assessment shows such levies could spark trade wars, draft reports show.

Two European Commission reports do not explicitly reject a push for border tariffs by France and Italy, but say they would be fiendishly complex to calculate, create a huge administrative burden and risk trade conflict.

"Border measures risk clashing with the obligations under the WTO (World Trade Organization)," said one study looking at the cost of increasing EU curbs on climate-warming emissions.

France and Italy are worried that their industries, which pay for EU permits to emit carbon dioxide, will lose out to cheaper imports from countries that impose no such charges.

The Commission said it would continue to look at how imports might be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme, the EU's carbon market and its main tool against climate-warming emissions. But the prospect of such measures looks dim.

"The introduction of border measures may also trigger retaliatory measures and even hinder international negotiations," added the document, seen by Reuters. "The system could at best only be envisaged for a very limited number of standardized commodities, such as steel or cement."

Sanjeev Kumar at environmental think-tank E3G said: "This is pretty much the death of the border-tax adjustment discussions in Europe. We've known for a long time it would put the whole European economy at risk."


Border tariffs on countries that do not play their part in fighting climate change are a hot topic in the United States, where legislators are weighing up their own climate laws.

"Similar proposals are also being discussed in the U.S., and obviously any further political and operational steps taken in this direction should be taken together," said a related EU draft.

Folker Franz, of industry group BusinessEurope, said: "In a theoretical world where Japan, the U.S. and Europe could move together, then it might work. But if Europe imposed tariffs alone it would not."

Germany, as one of the EU's biggest exporters, is worried about retaliation. Berlin last year criticized the idea of carbon tariffs as "eco-imperialism.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wrote to the European Commission two weeks ago calling for trade levies, but said they should respect WTO rules.

The Commission draft says that although levies could be made WTO-compliant, in theory, it would be almost impossible to tailor them to individual imports without knowing the carbon emissions up and down the manufacturing process -- and monitoring those emissions "may be unfeasible."