The head of the United Nation’s (UN) panel of climate scientists on Monday defended findings that humans are warming the planet, after critics said that leaked emails from a British university had undermined evidence.
Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told a climate conference that its findings were “subjected to extensive and repeated reviews by experts as well as by governments”.
IPCC concluded in 2007 that it was at least 90% certain that humans were to blame for global warming. But climate change sceptics have seized on a series of hacked emails written by climate specialists, accusing them of colluding to suppress others’ data and enhance their own.
“The evidence is now overwhelming that the world would benefit greatly from early action,” Pachauri told delegates at the opening session of the Copenhagen summit.
“The recent incident of stealing the emails of scientists at the University of East Anglia shows that some (people) would go to the extent of carrying out illegal acts in an attempt to discredit IPCC.”
The emails, some written as long as 13 years ago, were stolen by unknown hackers and spread rapidly across the Internet. Sceptics say that the emails showed that scientists had manipulated evidence.
In one email, confirmed by the University of East Anglia as genuine, the head of its Climatic Research Unit, Phil Jones, said he wanted to ensure a specific paper which doubted climate science was excluded from IPCC’s 2007 report. That paper did in fact appear in the final 2007 report, the university says. Pachauri on Monday defended scientists named in the “climategate” row. “The internal consistency from multiple lines of evidence strongly supports the work of the scientific community, including those individuals singled out in these email exchanges,” Pachauri said.
Saudi Arabia told delegates that the row would impact the Copenhagen talks and belief in climate science. Another British climate research centre, the MetOffice Hadley Centre, plans to publish this week data from more than 1,000 locations around the world to boost transparency and underpin evidence that the world is warming.