UN climate panel reviewing claim natural disasters: report

LONDON, Jan 24, 2010 (AFP) - The UN climate panel is re-examining its claim that global warming is linked to worsening natural disasters after doubts were raised about the evidence, a British newspaper reported on Sunday.

The news brings fresh embarrassment to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which this week admitted errors in a forecast about melting Himalayan glaciers that was included in a landmark 2007 report.

(AFP file photo) The United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009, or COP15, in Dec. 2009

That report -- which won the panel a Nobel Peace Prize and has become a benchmark in climate science -- also contained a claim that rapidly rising costs from events such as floods and hurricanes were linked to climate change.

According to The Sunday Times, however, the claim was based on an unpublished study that had not been subjected to routine scientific scrutiny.

When the study was finally published in 2008, it included a caveat saying: "We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and catastrophe losses."

The IPCC included the claim despite doubts raised by at least two scientific reviewers at the time, and also failed to issue a clarification after the study was published, the Sunday Times said.

Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a climatologist at the Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium and the vice-chairman of the IPCC, told the newspaper that he would be reviewing the evidence.

"We are reassessing the evidence and will publish a report on natural disasters and extreme weather with the latest findings. Despite recent events the IPCC process is still very rigorous and scientific," he said.

The IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, published in 2007, was a 938-page opus whose warning that climate change was on the march spurred politicians around the world to vow action.

However, it had to admit last week that a forecast suggesting the glaciers in the Himalayas were likely to disappear by 2035 was "poorly substantiated".

Source: AFP

Other news