This article reviews and extends the continuing debate on the treatment ofeconomic issues by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).Following an introduction, it has four main parts. Section 2, with itsaccompanying Annex 1, deals with one of the leading technical issues in thedebate. It argues that, contrary to IPCC-related sources and some otheranalysts, exchange rates should not enter into measures or projections of output(real GDP). Section 3, in conjunction with Annexes 2 and 3, reviews again theprojections of GDP and emissions that emerge from the IPCC's Special Report onEmissions Scenarios (SRES). It brings out in particular some confusions thathave entered into the IPCC process and the arguments deployed in its defence.Section 4 lists the main weaknesses of the SRES, which are not a matter of thespecific projections that it makes. These weaknesses cast doubt on the Panel'sdecision to use the SRES as a point of departure for its Fourth AssessmentReport which is now in course of preparation. Section 5 considers the IPCCprocess as a whole. Attention is drawn again to the mishandling of economicevidence in IPCC documents and by the United Nations Environment Programme whichis one of the IPCC's two parent agencies. New evidence of the professionallyunrepresentative status of the IPCC milieu is cited from two sources: The ExpertMeeting on Emissions Scenarios convened by the IPCC in January 2005; and theproceedings of the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs which hasjust reviewed ‘economic aspects of climate change’. The IPCC's dismissiveresponse to independent critics, as illustrated in Annex 3, means that itshandling of economic issues can be improved only if its member governments takeaction. Effective action will require in particular the involvement of thecentral economic departments of state: these will have to show greater awarenessof what is at stake than Her Majesty's Treasury in its evidence to the SelectCommittee. More broadly, and going beyond economic aspects, it is high time toput in question the IPCC's status as a monopoly provider of information togovernments on issues relating to climate change.
Energy & Environment – SAGE
Published: Jul 1, 2005
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