A top US academic has dramatically revealed how government officials forced him to change a hugely influential scientific report on climate change to suit their own interests.
Harvard professor Robert Stavins electrified the worldwide debate on climate change on Friday by sensationally publishing a letter online in which he spelled out the astonishing interference.He said the officials, representing ‘all the main countries and regions of the world’ insisted on the changes in a late-night meeting at a Berlin conference centre two weeks ago.
Three quarters of the original version of the document ended up being deleted.
Prof Stavins claimed the intervention amounted to a serious ‘conflict of interest’ between scientists and governments. His revelation is significant because it is rare for climate change experts to publicly question the process behind the compilation of reports on the subject. --
Prof Stavins told The Mail on Sunday yesterday that he had been especially concerned by what happened at a special ‘contact group’. He was one of only two scientists present, surrounded by ‘45 or 50’ government officials.
He said almost all of them made clear that ‘any text that was considered inconsistent with their interests and positions in multilateral negotiations was treated as unacceptable.’
Many of the officials were themselves climate negotiators, facing the task of devising a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol in negotiations set to conclude next year.
Prof Stavins said: ‘This created an irreconcilable conflict of interest. It has got to the point where it would be reasonable to call the document a summary by policymakers, not a summary for them, and it certainly affects the credibility of the IPCC. The process ought to be reformed.’