17 January 2010

IPCC and Conflict of Interest: Anything Goes

The Sunday Telegraph has an interesting story on TERI-Europe and Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, uncovering what TERI admits are accounting "anomalies" -- never a good thing to hear when financial accounting is concerned. I will have more to say on that, but in this post I'd like to focus on a very interesting statement in the article on the UN and IPCC policies for conflict of interest:
Because Dr Pachauri's role at the IPCC is unpaid – although he does receive tens of thousands of pounds in travel expenses – he is exempt along with other panel members from declaring outside interests with the UN.
As far as I have been able to discern, the IPCC has no policy governing conflict of interests. This is remarkable, given the importance of the IPCC to international climate policy as well as the importance that has been given in recent years to conflicts of interest in scientific advice. The question that needs to be put to the IPCC is: why should it be exempt from adhering to conflict of interest policies that are deemed appropriate in every other important area of scientific advice?

Last month I posted up the standards of conduct regarding conflict of interest for the IPCC's parent bodies: the United Nations and World Meteorological Organization. Based on what the Sunday Telegraph has reported the leadership of the IPCC falls through a bureaucratic loophole and is not accountable to UN or WMO conflict of interest policies. In fact, it appears that there are no such policies governing the IPCC -- which is remarkable.

Instituting such policies will be difficult as any reasonable conflict of interest policies will necessarily lead to some very uncomfortable questions about its current chairman, as well as others in leadership positions. There is no doubt based on publicly available information that Dr. Pachauri has material conflcits of interest as IPCC chair. At the same time, unless the IPCC sets forth such policies, it will continue to hang exposed like a virtual pinata, getting whacked repeatedly and justifiably for its "anything goes" approach. For the IPCC the better course is to clean up its act sooner rather than later, as uncomfortable as that might be in the short term.


  1. never a good thing to " here" a typo.. :-)

  2. And who in the IPCC bureau would stand up?


  3. The UN is hopelessly corrupt ... from Oil for Food to human trafficking, to it's members living like little kings in developed countries (Haiti comes to mind); it has the perfect structure for predators to profit from with no accountibility. The UN is third world corruption come to our shores.

    Are you surprised then, that with trillions to be made from carbon trading (money from thin air) that the parasites wouldn't be congregating. "The science" has become hopelessly mixed up with politics, unaccountable bureaucracy, and corporate greed ... so the Pachauri tale is just the tip of the iceberg. The UK Telegraph team are just getting started.


    Roger, let's not be naive! AGW is a fast track to incredible profits for those on the right side of the trade ... to think that this won't corrupt every aspect of the "science" is to use rose coloured glasses. AGW science is to the carbon trade as Research is to big pharma ... can you imagine big pharma functioning without strict oversight to keep it hones?. Yet, the AGW science has no such checks and balances with a who's who of corporate and private interests salivating at the profit potential.

    Just think, politicians get billions to "redistribute for votes"; corporations like Goldman Sachs make billions just in transaction fees; NGOs get billions for doing the work of Gaia; Scientists get billions (79 so far) in grants; bureaucrats get more power and wealth doing the work of saving the planet; and every single "green" business gets in on the feeding frenzy.

    Conflict of interest? You think?

  4. “…why should it (the IPCC) be exempt from adhering to conflict of interest policies that are deemed appropriate in every other important area of scientific advice?”

    Scientific advice? The IPCC is held to the same conflict of interest standards as any other group lobbying for policy changes.

    So the IPCC does not pay Dr Pachauri a salary? Does the US Government pay the salary for the health insurance lobbyists? Maybe we’re just thinking about this wrong and the IPCC is doing their job well.

  5. Let's see. Climategate. Rigging the "global average temperatures." IPCC was wrong about the Himalayan glaciers melting. No warming for 15 years. GCMs no where near the "mark." IPCC conflict of interest. Hmmm, lots of black eyes for climate science lately. Is there anything we CAN believe?