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The IPCC Leak: This is What Transparency Looks Like


The IPCC describes itself as a completely transparent organization. If that is the case, the draft chapters of its upcoming report that were leaked on the Internet yesterday should be a non-issue.


Yesterday a gent named Alec Rawls leaked drafts of 14 chapters of the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report via the climate skeptic blog WattsUpWithThat.com. For info on how to download your own copies, please see the end of this post.

This is not the entire IPCC report. Rather, these are Working Group 1 chapters only. Considered the “hard science” portion of the report, these chapters are the ones that people with a scientific orientation find most interesting and consider most important.

However, IPCC Working Group 2 personnel are currently assembling an additional 30 chapters. Working Group 3′s contribution will consist of 16 more. This means that, out of the 60 chapters in the upcoming report, draft versions of 14 of them (less than 25%) are now in the public domain. UPDATE: I stand corrected. Economist Richard Tol, who is one of the coordinating lead authors of Working Group 2′s Chapter 10, posted theentire draft of that chapter onhis blog back in March.

On its Twitter feed the IPCC says it intends to issue a statement about the leak. Perhaps it will keep some prior remarks by its chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, in mind (bold added):

“The IPCC is a totally transparent organization.Whatever we do is available for scrutiny at every stage.” – magazine interview, May 2009

“The objective and transparent manner in which the IPCC functions.should convey conviction on the strength of its findings to all rational persons.” – testimony to a US Senate committee, February 2009

“[The IPCC’s] work is carried out with complete transparency and objectivity.” – speech to heads of state, December 2008

“So you can’t think of a more transparent process.than what we have in the IPCC. I would only put that forward as valid reasons to accept the science and the scientific assessments that are carried out.” – newspaper interview, June 2007

IPCC officials may also wish to reflect on comments uttered by other individuals (bold added):

“The open and transparent nature of the IPCC process, the multiple stages of peer review, and the credentials of the authors, all contribute to the stature of the report.” – Richard Somerville, IPCC Coordinating Lead Author, explaining to a US House of Representatives subcommittee how the IPCC works, March 2011 (bottom of page 7 here or here)

“IPCC procedures are transparent.” – an open letter signed by more than 250 US scientists, March 2010

“[IPCC authors working on the upcoming report] will conduct the scientific-technical assessment using procedures that emphasize comprehensiveness, scientific independence, openness, thorough review and transparency.” – Australian journalist Ken Hickson, in a profile of IPCC Coordinating Lead Author Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, June 2010

“The global coverage of expertise, the interdisciplinary nature of the IPCC team, and the transparency of the process, constitute the Panel’s strongest assets.” – profile of Rajendra Pachauri in the International Atomic Energy Agency Bulletin, March 2008

How to download the leaked IPCC chapters:

  • links to each chapter are listed at Jo Nova’s blog here
  • all the files may be downloaded together here
  • UPDATE: On Dec. 16 the name of the person who leaked the chapters was corrected. It originally readAlex Rawls rather than Alec.


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