New Delhi: The head of the UN’s climate science panel on Saturday said that a doomsday prediction about the fate of Himalayan glaciers was ‘a regrettable error’.
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in an emailed statement that the mistake arose out of ‘established procedures not being diligently followed’.
Pachauri was referring to a forecast which featured in a benchmark report on global warming that the probability of glaciers in the Himalayas disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high.
The IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report was a 938-page opus released in 2007 whose warning that climate change was on the march spurred politicians around the world to vow action.
Earlier in week, the panel apologised for the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures.
In the latest statement on what the media have dubbed Climategate, Pachauri said that the possibility of further errors in the report was minimal—if not non-existent.
He added that the report general conclusions that Himalayan glaciers were retreating due to global warming were robust, appropriate, and entirely consistent with the underlying science.
He said that the forecast that the glaciers could disappear by 2035 may have genuinely alarmed some people. But he said that there had been a benefit in that it created a heightened awareness about the real threat to Himalayan glaciers.
The IPCC co-won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for bringing climate change to the world’s attention.
The glacier error came to light after four prominent glaciologists and hydrologists wrote a letter to the prestigious US journal Science.
They said that the paragraph’s mistakes stemmed from a report by the conservation group WWF.
WWF had picked up a news report based on an unpublished study, compounded by the accidental inversion of a date—2035 instead of 2350—in a Russian paper published in 1996.
The IPCC came under ferocious attack from climate sceptics ahead of the UN conference in Copenhagen in December.
But Pachauri has defended the panel’s overall work, a position shared by other scientists, who say that the core conclusions about climate change are incontrovertible.