Energy and Climate Change committee: new inquiry: IPCC 5th Assessment Review: published

Back in 2013 I didn't take terribly seriously an announced review of the IPCC AR5 by a ctte of the UK parliament. Now they've been rude enough to publish their results without consulting me, and sneaked it out while I was on holiday. Do I regret my snark? I can hardly complain about their conclusions:

AR5 provides the best available summary of the prevailing scientific opinion on climate change currently available to policy-makers. Its conclusions have been reached with high statistical confidence by a working group made up of many of the world's leading climate scientists drawing on areas of well-understood science. The overall thrust and conclusions of the report are widely supported in the scientific community and its summaries are presented in a way that is persuasive to the lay reader. As in all areas of science that involve highly complex dynamic systems, there are uncertainties. But these uncertainties do not blur the overwhelmingly clear picture of a climate system changing as a result of human influence.

The IPCC has responded extremely well to constructive criticism in the last few years and has tightened its review processes to make AR5 the most exhaustive and heavily scrutinised Assessment Report to-date. We believe that the IPCC would benefit from increasing the level of transparency by recruiting a small team of non-climate scientists to observe the review process from start to finish including during the plenary meetings to agree the Summary for Policymakers. However, the authority of the reports comes not from the process and procedure per se, but from the evidence itself: the thousands of peer-reviewed academic papers that together form a clear and unambiguous picture of a climate that is being dangerously destabilised.

Of course there are those who will continue to be critical of the conclusions and the process through which the IPCC produces its Assessment Reports. But our conclusion here is clear. There is no scientific basis for downgrading the UK's ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Government and the international community must heed the IPCC's warning and work to agree a binding global deal in 2015 to limit climate change to manageable levels.

(Other than to say that I'd probably tone the last paragraph down a bit).

Eli takes this as a chance to take the piss out of the weakness of the denialist bench, and indeed its a good point. Unfortunately the comment thread dribbles off into nonsense; ATTP has better quality comments. On the other side, Curry takes the opportunity to say that she doesn't need no stinkin’ science. Errm.

I'm still not really sure what the point was, though.

More like this

Yes, I don't really get the point either. It's hard to see how any sensible result could have differed much from what they achieved and how any sensible person would have thought there was any evidence - initially - to suggest that the result would be different. Keeps them busy and off the streets, I guess :-)

By And Then There… (not verified) on 04 Aug 2014 #permalink

Mmm. A group of politicians passing judgement on the work of a lot of scientists. And it took a year. And it achieves what, exactly?
At least the cttee had the sense not to actually challenge the science.

By Fergus Brown (not verified) on 04 Aug 2014 #permalink

I suspect this had a lot to do with shutting up a small minority of MPs who were whining about not even getting a hearing.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 04 Aug 2014 #permalink

The point of this exercise, and similar ones here in the U.S., is partly that there's a bunch of foreigners in the IPCC. So we need some good old American (or British) commonsense to make sure they're not trying to do us in.

By Raymond Arritt (not verified) on 04 Aug 2014 #permalink

The point of the exercise is for the politicians to figure out whom they should trust. The really interesting one is going to be the report on the WG II. Besides Tol, who is going to stand for denial?

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 05 Aug 2014 #permalink

I suspect that the point is that this is the means by which parliament tells the denialists in its midst to sit down and shut up.

More wisdom from Judith

If people are concerned about the adverse impacts of extreme weather events, reducing CO2 emissions are not going to have any impact on policy relevant time scales, even if you accept the IPCC analyses. Resources expended on energy policy are in direct conflict with reducing vulnerability to extreme events.


Eli - Ridley will stand up, using Tol as his guide, still wilfully ignoring the frequent advice he is given that Tol's work is wrong.
Re JC, as usual, it's misdirection: There might be an argument for the validity of the first statement, if the timescale is better defined, and since this is what the IPCC says anyway, the final hit is just a contradiction of a nonexistent position. The second statement does not follow from the first and is, besides, almost certainly not true.

By Fergus Brown (not verified) on 05 Aug 2014 #permalink

What Judith misses out is that not taking action on CO2 will have no effect on weather events on policy relevant timescales, thus, the problem doesn't exist.

It was more a PR exercise I guess. To show "balance"?

I did watch the video of Richard Lindzen, Nick Lewis and Donna Laframboise giving testimony. It was all a bit surreal especially Donna Laframboise. I thought it good Richard Lindzen went on record saying there was global warming.

In many places, policy relevant time scale : next election.
On the other hand, at least when it comes to water issues, at least the Dutch plan in century scale, and town planners around SF Bay try to think in 50-100-year scales.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 05 Aug 2014 #permalink

I wonder if the IPCC reports do not mention thermalization because it explains why CO2 change has no significant effect on climate.

[I haven't got a clue what you're on about, and I doubt they have either. Don't treat that as an invitation to explain -W]

By Dan Pangburn (not verified) on 06 Aug 2014 #permalink

"town planners around SF Bay try to think in 50-100-year scales."

A subject close to my heart and experience. Generally they don't, although they certainly claim they do. The list of shortfalls is lengthy, but start with the failure to provide for replacement of aging infrastructure on anything like a sufficient schedule. All those pipes...

And how are we doing on SLR, the inevitable major earthquakes and probably inevitable 1862-like atmospheric river deluges?

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 06 Aug 2014 #permalink

Oops, you limited that to water issues. But much of that still applies, and I would add the supply issues (reduced precip, increased evapotranspiration) that will come with further warming. Point me to a city or county plan with a realistic assessment of these issues. I *know* Alameda County's doesn't since I was deeply involved in rewriting it (via ballot initiative) about fifteen years back. We didn't have the information then to do an adequate job of it, and it hasn't been updated in that regard since.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 06 Aug 2014 #permalink

The wording was careful, but perhaps ambiguous. Of the Netherlands, I would have written "they think in in 50-100-year scales.

"try to think"
I spent a day with a bunch of town planners back ~2008, and I was quite struck by the earnestness of many in wanting to learn about SLR and think about how their towns would do 50+ years out, and the planning exercises we went through were interesting. Of course, some said short-term thinking by elected officials didn't help much. Likewise, some of this is driven by others, like SPUR, don't know how that is doing.

My categories go like:
1) King Canute, as per NC or VA or massive rebuild in Galveston

2) Try to think about SLR in 50-100-year scales, i.e., at least learn something about SLR and make efforts to factor it in, as in sewage plant location

3) Routinely think about it, i.e., like the Dutch.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 06 Aug 2014 #permalink

"Climate change doesn’t just mean record heat. It leads to more extreme storms and droughts, rising sea levels, and threats to our economy and our health."

By ray delcolle (not verified) on 07 Aug 2014 #permalink