Dutch advice to IPCC

The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute has submitted recommendations about the future of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. You can read their recommendations here.

Apparently countries were asked to submit suggestions about the future direction of the IPCC, so there’s no surprise that the Dutch Meteorological has submitted something, but it does seem quite critical of the IPCC and does – at first glance – seem to be suggesting some major changes. On the other hand, the suggestions aren’t entirely unreasonable. The IPPC should be more transparent, focused and up-to-date. The IPCC should interact more with learned societies. I’m a little surprised that the IPCC isn’t doing some of this already. As far as I’m aware there are many people involved with producing the assessment reports (so that would seem to imply that it is quite open) and I’m surprised that they aren’t already interacting with the various learned societies. What seemed especially odd, however, was the suggestion that limiting the scope of the IPCC to human-
induced climate change is undesirable, especially because natural climate change is a crucial part ofthe total understanding of the climate system
. I didn’t think that the IPCC did limit itself only to human-induced climate change, but maybe they did.

I was wondering if others had more insight into this submission by the Dutch Meteorological Society. Is it an entirely reasonable submission that makes quite reasonable suggestions about the future of the IPCC? Even if the suggestions are quite critical of the IPCC, this could simply reflect the range of opinions about how something as complex as the IPCC should be run. On the other hand, is there something more to this? Are there actual problems with the IPCC that these suggestions are trying to address, or is there some reason why the Dutch Meteorological Institute might want to undermine the future of the IPCC?

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23 Responses to Dutch advice to IPCC

  1. Lars Karlsson says:

    These seems like very reasonable and well-intended suggestions. The IPCC has a very difficult and complex task which grows in size for each assessment report, and a thorough and open-minded discussion of how to do it better is important.

    The only weird thing I find is “limiting the scope of the IPCC to human-
    induced climate change is undesirable”. They don’t. It would make more sense to say something “giving too much focus to human-induced climate change is undesirable”.

  2. I agree, I also found the comment about them limiting the scope to human-induced climate change a little strange. As you say, they could have worded it more carefully and probably more appropriately.

  3. Considering I’m Dutch I’ve sent an e-mail to the KNMI asking about that particular passage to get some clarification on their intent by it. But it will take a few days for them to get back to me as their response time is a couple of business days (and it’s currently a Saturday).

    Now I also find it odd with how they phrased this, as the IPCC does talk about natural causes of climate change. It might just be that their point is about the IPCC giving human-induced climate change too much focus like Karlsson suggested.

  4. Marco says:

    It’s probably related to this:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ipcc-principles/ipcc-principles.pdf
    “The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”

    The KNMI obviously wants the IPCC to expand its focus. Expect this recommendation to be misinterpreted by the usual suspects, though.

  5. BBD says:

    Collin Maessen

    If your correspondent at the KNMI is prepared to give permission, would you be kind enough to post up the response in comments here?

    I’d be very interested to see what they have to say.

  6. Could be, but I tend to hold off on drawing definite conclusions till I can actually confirm them.

  7. I’ll share what I can about their response to me. 🙂

  8. Thanks, would be interested to know their reasoning.

  9. Marco, what you highlight would be consistent with what the KNMI have recommended. As Colin says though, would be good to get clarification.

  10. BBD says:

    Thanks Collin.

  11. As far as I could see the statement is from the Dutch IPCC commission and is only posted on the KNMI homepage. Thus maybe it is unfair to call this a statement by the Dutch weather service.

    This commission seems to have members from various ministries and for example selects which scientists partake in the drafting of the IPCC reports and pays their travel costs. I do not know whether there are also scientists in the commission itself.

    I find the quoted comment strange if it came from a scientist, if it were from a scientist then it would be one who did not consider that he would have formulate accurately as his words may be abused.

    Naturally, the IPCC also reviews the research on natural climate variability. Without understanding the natural variability, you cannot distinguish natural from man-made climate change.

    I would personally be happy if the IPCC would put more emphasis on natural variability and would review all of climate science not just climate change science. That would make the reports scientifically more valuable. It contrasts, however, many other statements that call for the IPCC to be more useful for policy makers. You cannot have it both ways.

    Also the statements about including climate sceptics sounds more like a statement from a politician as one from a scientist. If they mean sceptic in the old fashioned meaning of someone that is sceptical, they are already included, all writers are working scientists. If they mean sceptic in the modern meaning, I see no value in including people without sufficient background and who are not interested in the truth.

  12. Victor, thanks you do have a point. I had assumed it was from the KNMI but the statement appears to be on behalf of the Netherlands, rather than from the KNMI alone. So, apologies to the KNMI if I have mis-represented their role. I agree that some of the style is not what one would expect if it were written by scientists involved in climate science. I did wonder if there was some reason why they would have chosen to write it this way they have but, as others have pointed out, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with what they’ve suggested (apart from maybe the way they framed the suggestion that the IPCC should focus on more than just human induced climate change).

  13. Lars Karlsson says:

    What statement about including climate sceptics?

  14. Sorry, mistake. The StaatVanHetKlimaat.nl wanted to include sceptics, not the Dutch IPCC commission.

    http://www.staatvanhetklimaat.nl/2013/07/05/dutch-advise-to-ipcc-limiting-the-scope-to-human-induced-climate-change-is-undesirable/

    Shows how dangerous it is to read rubbish information. After some time you may not know any more where you got a meme from.

  15. At best it’s a poorly worded statement. The IPCC devotes a lot of the report to talking about natural climate change. It’s even a major component of the Summary for Policymakers.
    http://skepticalscience.com/ipcc-edited-out-natural-causes-of-climate-change.htm

  16. Do you mean “at best” or “at worst”? I had thought that the IPCC devoted quite a lot of the report to natural climate change, so was surprised by the suggestions in the Dutch report.

  17. Lars Karlsson says:

    Very predictably, here is the GWPF.

    And two days ago at WUWT.

  18. I mean at best the Dutch statement is poorly worded. At worst it’s a sign of ignorance and/or incompetence, or worse. I’m rather curious exactly who wrote and signed off on something so obviously wrong and easy to check.

  19. Marco says:

    As I noted earlier, without having prior knowledge of those two stories:
    “Expect this recommendation to be misinterpreted by the usual suspects, though”
    🙂

  20. July 10… evening.

    Please keep us posted as things develop.

  21. I haven’t received a response from the KNMI yet, but a Dutch blogger did from someone he had contact information for:
    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/the-dutch-view-on-the-future-of-the-ipcc-what-it-does-and-what-it-does-not-say/

  22. Pingback: Real Sceptic » Dutch Meteorological Institute KNMI Critical Of IPCC?

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