Saturday, October 16, 2010

IPCC WG II informs its lead authors about Busan

Having the privilege of being a lead author in Working Group II of AR5 IPCC, I got after the Busan meeting the following information. It deals with the response to the Interacademy Council (IAC, see Klimazwiebel reporting and discussing) report on the IPCC published earlier this year. The IAC is independent of the IPCC.

First, on 14. October 2010

The annual meeting of the IPCC Plenary just completed a historic session in Busan, Korea.  One topic of discussion was the recommendations from the InterAcademy Council (IAC) on the process and procedures of conducting an IPCC assessment, and on management of the IPCC. We feel that the recommendations and the decisions taken in Busan were made in the spirit of strengthening the IPCC process and procedures to ensure that your efforts as authors and review editors result in assessment reports of the highest scientific integrity, policy relevance, and global impact. 
We are writing to reaffirm our commitment to producing the best possible WG2 contributions to the AR5, and to creating an environment in which your work yields the highest possible return.

and then, as a second, on 15. October 2010, after one seemingly had understood that the first communication was a bit thin in information:

Several of you asked for further information on the decisions taken this week at the IPCC meeting in Busan in response to the IAC review.  Attached is the press release, outlining the decisions. The full text of the decisions, approved line-by-line, will be available in a few  days. As is usual for IPCC Panel meetings, contact groups drafted proposed language for each decision. The full Panel then discussed and agreed the final text. During these discussions, changes are tracked on  the proposed text so that all delegates can see exactly what has changed. The Secretariat needs to check that the approved text has  complete sentences, etc. The final text will be posted on the IPCC website.

There are four decisions directly related to the work of the authors and  review editors in the AR5: (1) guidance on the use of non-journal-based  sources of literature; (2) empowering the review editors to fully discharge their roles and responsibilities; (3) guidance on language to  describe an author team's certainty in key findings (also known as  uncertainty guidance); and (4) a conflict of interest policy.

For guidance on the use of non-journal-based sources of literature,  earlier this year the heads of the TSUs for the three Working Groups  (WGs) drafted a guidance note. It is posted on our author portal. The  guidance note will be slightly modified to include a couple of sentences  stating explicitly what sources are not acceptable references for a  scientific assessment (i.e. blogs, Twitter, others). This should be completed within the week and the new version posted.

For empowering the review editors, earlier this year the heads of the TSUs for the three WGs drafted a document summarizing the roles and responsibilities of the review editors. This document also is posted on our author portal. In addition, the TSUs held conference calls with the review editors for SREX to ensure that they understand their roles and to answer any questions. We will hold a training session at our SREX third lead author meeting, which starts in about 10 days. We will follow a similar process for the AR5.

For uncertainty guidance, the three WGs have been discussing this issue since the beginning of the assessment cycle. The WGs held a small meeting in early July to discuss improvements to the AR4 guidance document, particularly in defining a common approach and calibrated language that can be used across the three WGs. A small writing team was formed that has put in literally hundreds of hours on drafting a new guidance document that will be finalized within a few weeks. We hope you will agree that this document is a significant improvement over the guidance provided to AR4 authors. The guidance will be presented at our SREX third lead author meeting and the final version posted on our author portal. The guidance document addresses the issues raised in the IAC review; the only modifications requested by the Panel are to briefly describe how the guidance differs from the guidance provided for the AR4 and to add text showing how the guidance addresses the concerns raised by the IAC.

The IPCC Panel agreed with the importance of establishing a conflict of interest policy. A task group that will begin working in the next few weeks on proposing a policy for consideration by the Panel at its next meeting, likely in May 2011. We are considering steps to implement in the meantime.

There also was agreement on a procedure to correct errors, something that, with your commitment to excellence and adherence to the IPCC rules and procedures, we hope will be infrequently implemented after the SREX and AR5.


richardtol said...

The conflict of interests policy is the only new element, and it has yet to be drawn up.

It will be tested immediately. Either it is not serious, or Pachauri will violate the terms and has to go.

If this is the pace of reform at the IPCC, then confidence will be restored by AR107.

Georg Hoffmann said...

"then confidence will be restored by AR107."

I go a step further. Certain (the majority) will have no confidence no matter how the report is written as long as it is principally based on scientific conclusions. So it it will be for AR_1/0

Martin Heimann said...

WGI is further ahead: an annual self declaration of real, perceived or potential conflict of interests in professional work has already been implemented.

richardtol said...

Brilliant news.

Can you provide a link or something? It's not obvious at the WG1 site.

Martin Heimann said...

@ Richard,

all authors received a spreadsheet together with a letter from the WGI chairs, explaining the procedures. The letter also contains exemplary (hypothetical) cases of potential CoIs. The letter also states that for now it only refers to professional work related CoIs; mostly cases of editorship which allows you to decide what gets published and what not.

Financial related CoIs will be dealt with the IPCC-wide CoI policy, to be developed.

Anonymous said...

@Georg Hoffmann,

Quite a lot of people -- including me -- became aware of major problems, too. It is not solely the lack of a IPCC policy for conflict of interests, which is bad enough, but for example a lengthy denying of inconsistencies and mistakes, respectively to sit inconsistencies and mistakes overlong out, respectively the try to keep inconsistencies mistakes under wraps and so forth. Also the empirically observable overwhelming focus on catastrophic (negative) climate impacts seems biased.

(a) Do you mean "the majority" of "principally scientists" or that of society?

(b) What do you mean by "AR_1/0"?

(c) If I may be of any use to you for clarification: whereby you have lost your confidence"?


itisi69 said...

More on Busan here: