Dear University of Exeter,
Second IPCC AR5 WGI Lead Authors' Meeting
You are no doubt aware of the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention), with which Council Directive 2003/4/EC requires our Environmental Information Regulations 2004 to be consistent.
The process of IPCC Fifth Assessment of the science, impacts and mitigation, of climate change, in which you as a public authority are engaged, is one of the most important environmental decision-making processes of all and in which I wish to exercise my rights.
Accordingly I am asking for exact copies of all the information held by you as a result of the participation of your employees in the Second Lead Authors Meeting (LA2), 18-22 July 2011, at Brest, France.
In particular, but without prejudicing my rights to all the information I wish to have an exact copy of what is referred to as the zero order draft of the AR5 WGI Assessment Report, together with the comments on of its reviewers and a list of their names.
I believe that strictly speaking this environmental information is of such public interest and importance that under EIR regulation 4 you should proactively disseminate it by electronic means and I will be satisfied with a link to where it is held in your publication scheme.
Dear Mr Holland,
Please find attached an update to your request for information.
University of Exeter
Dear Mr Holland,
Please find attached the response to your request for information .
University of Exeter
Dear University of Exeter,
Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.
I am writing to request an internal review of University of Exeter's handling of my FOI request 'Second IPCC AR5 WGI Lead Authors' Meeting'.
I am asking that you carefully review your refusal to disclose the Zero Order Draft (ZOD) or ZODs that you hold together with the comments of their reviewers and any responses from the authors. Please take into account the evidence that I present here, particularly in respect of the public interest.
You are one of several public authorities, to which I have written, whose employees are, entirely at public expense, assessing the scientific basis of climate change. My previous requests for information on the IPCC process led directly to the confidentiality decision at the 33rd Session of the IPCC, upon which you are, in part, relying for your refusal. They also led to discussions at the second meeting of Working Group One Lead Authors aimed at coordinating the prevention of disclosures of important information until after the final IPCC report is accepted in an environmental decision by governments.
Your refusal bears a remarkable similarity with others. It is contrary to the IPCC Principle of openness and transparency. It is also a total denial of the provisions of the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (‘the Aarhus Convention’). The purpose of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 is to implement Directive 2003/4/EC, which requires European law to be consistent with that Convention.
Without the open, transparent and contemporaneous release of drafts, reviewer comments and author responses the public have no opportunity whatever to participate in or debate the IPCC assessment process which will result in the most important of environmental decisions.
The IPCC is a Panel of government representatives, who alone vote upon decisions of the IPCC. The Working Groups of scientists are not employees of the IPCC nor contractors to it. They receive neither salary nor expenses from the IPCC. They remain, for the most part, employees of public authorities.
Since 1993 the Panel has established and regularly reviewed rules for the assessment process in the form of “The Principles Governing IPCC Work and their Appendix A which you can find here:
The fundamental Principle of the IPCC is:
“The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”
A further Principle states:
“Conclusions drawn by IPCC Working Groups and any Task Forces are not official IPCC views until they have been accepted by the Panel in a plenary meeting.”
The confidentiality decision made at the 33rd Session of the IPCC in May this year directly contradicts the fundamental IPCC Principle of openness and transparency. The fraudulent manner of its insinuation into the consideration of proposals put forward by the InterAcademy Council (IAC) does no credit to climate scientists who did so, let alone to IPCC Principles. The decision, which was in the task force report on the IAC recommendations was:
“At its 33rd Session, the Panel decided that the drafts of IPCC Reports and Technical Papers which have been submitted for formal expert and/or government review, the expert and government review comments, and the author responses to those comments will be made available on the IPCC website as soon as possible after the acceptance by the Panel and the finalization of the report. IPCC considers its draft reports, prior to acceptance, to be pre-decisional, provided in confidence to reviewers, and not for public distribution, quotation or citation.”
However, the ZODs are not official IPCC documents. They were not submitted for “formal expert and/or government review” and are not required in the Appendix A Procedures to be archived after the final IPCC Report is accepted by governments. Indeed until “Climategate” few members of the public knew of their existence and none had been disclosed. At the IPCC website in the report of the 33rd Session of the IPCC, 10-13 May 2011, is published the progress report of WGI. In it is stated:
“In March 2011 the Zero Order Draft of the WGI AR5 was completed, with 14 Chapters and 2 Annexes being submitted to the WGI TSU for compilation and distribution. A proposed list of Frequently Asked Questions for WGI AR5 was developed with the Chapter CLAs, designated members of the WGI Bureau and the WGI TSU in December 2010. These were addressed to the extent possible in the Chapter ZODs.
“In April 2011 the Zero Order Draft was circulated to Expert Reviewers proposed by the WGI AR5 Chapter CLAs, REs and the WGI Bureau. The WGI TSU developed and implemented a comprehensive online review tool that was adapted from the review tools used for the WGI AR4 and the SREX. The ZOD Review is an informal review that is intended to provide the Chapter teams with an early indication as to whether their first compilation reflects the available peer reviewed literature and provides a balanced coverage of the chapter's scope. The Expert Reviewers were asked to focus specifically on chapter structure, coverage, gaps, balance, and cross-chapter issues. The ZOD Review ends on 10 June 2011 and the comments received will be addressed by the Chapter teams at the Second Lead Author Meeting and in preparing their First Order Drafts.” See: http://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session33/do...
In the above quotation it states clearly “the ZOD Review is an informal review” and since neither it nor any other working documents of the assessment are ever “accepted” as an official IPCC document they remain the working documents of, for the most part, public authority employees. They, the reviewers’ comments on them and the authors’ responses are never changed after their completion and EIR regulation 12(4)(d) can not be engaged to withhold them. As with all exceptions to disclosure, the Regulations, Directive 2003/4/EC and the Aarhus Convention from which they descend, all require that they must be interpreted restrictively bearing in mind the public interest.
Moreover, the “raison d’être” for the IPCC assessment is to establish the relationship between the emissions of greenhouse gases by mankind and the climate. Thus regulation 12(9) is engaged.
The proposition that, disclosing to the public, who have paid for it, the work in progress of the IPCC would, as opposed to might, adversely affect international relations is without any basis in reality. Regulation 12(5)(a) even if engaged could not be upheld against the public interest. Similarly regulation 12(5)(f) could not pass any public interest test. All participants in the IPCC process are volunteers and compete for privilege of being named in the IPCC Reports.
While some personal data such as passwords should properly be withheld, the names of the participants in the IPCC assessment process are all published and should not be redacted from any documents.
In considering the public interest in the contemporaneous disclosure, I ask that you look at the paper published in 2002 by the Met Office former Chief Executive, Sir John Houghton, in a journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry. See http://www.rsc.org/ebooks/archive/free/B...
Sir John was instrumental in the establishment of the IPCC and the Hadley Centre. He served for three Assessment Reports as a Chairman of Working Group One and following the IPCC Third (TAR) he was prominent in promoting the “hockey stick” graph of Professor Mann. On page 5 of his paper, Sir John wrote:
“The work of the IPCC illustrates the following five important features which I believe should characterize the scientific assessments that form an input to policy making.”
Of direct relevance to this matter is the third feature, of which Sir John wrote:
“Thirdly, all parts of the assessment process need to be completely open and transparent. IPCC documents including early drafts and review comments have been freely and widely available - adding much to the credibility of the process and its conclusions.”
Sir John Houghton was unambiguous in stating what he believed to be needed for the public to have any credibility in the IPCC assessment process and the public policy process that flows from it. In fact, he was only articulating the fundamental IPCC Principle of openness and transparency which had been agreed by all government members of the IPCC at the 9th Session in 1993, then reaffirmed at the 14th in 1998, the 21st in 2003 and the 25th in 2006.
I particularly ask, in balancing the public interest when considering any exceptions, that you explain how the public can participate in one of the most important environmental decision-making processes ever, if they can not have any information on the 5 year long assessment process until after the decision-making process is over and governments have decided to accept a draft Report, which the public will have never seen or had the opportunity to examine the assessment process. The confidentiality decision, if upheld by the Courts, will mean that the IPCC process is not in any sense open. Without openness, transparency after the event can never be assured.
The “Climategate” disclosure of emails from the University of East Anglia and further disclosures that have followed, give a powerful public interest in allowing public inspection of the drafts, comments and responses as they are completed. One of the two most infamous Climategate emails referred to “hiding the decline”. Although this email actually referred to a WMO publication, exactly the same “cheat” – for that is what it is – was used in the TAR, the drafts of which Sir John Houghton had claimed were “freely and widely available”.
However, when on 18 August 2009 I asked the Met Office for the drafts and comments on Chapter 2 of the TAR, it refused. Despite Sir John Houghton’s claim the only public access to those drafts was in 8 unindexed boxes in a Harvard library. To the best of my knowledge no one has looked at them, and in any case the ZODs were not required by the Appendix A Procedures to be included.
Following Climategate we now know that six months before UEA’s Professor Jones sent his “hide the decline” email, UEA’s Professor Briffa had complained in an email to Professor Mann:
“I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards 'apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data' but in reality the situation is not quite so simple. We don't have a lot of proxies that come right up to date and those that do (at least a significant number of tree proxies ) [have] some unexpected changes in response that do not match the recent warming. I do not think it wise that this issue be ignored in the chapter.”
Even before Climategate we had heard from Professor Deming that he had been told by one climate scientist (named by some as Professor Jonathan Overpeck) “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.” See http://epw.senate.gov/hearing_statements...
We have also learnt from journalist Fred Pearce:
“Tim Barnett of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, part of the University of California, San Diego, joined Phil Jones to form a small group within the IPCC to mine this data for signs of global warming. They planned to summarise the research in the panel's next assessment, due in 2001. They had an agenda. "What we hope is that the current patterns of temperature change prove distinctive, quite different from the patterns of natural variability in the past," Barnett told me in 1996. Even then they were looking for a hockey stick.” See http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/20...
Thus it became clear to many people after “Climategate” that the lack of the prescribed openness and transparency in the IPCC process had led to noble cause corruption and that the “decline” in Briffa’s study, shown in Figure 2.21 in Chapter 2 of the TAR had been “hidden”. Professor John Christy had another word for it.
On 31 March 2011 Christy gave important evidence to the US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He was a fellow Lead Author of Professor Mann on Chapter 2 of the WGI TAR. He told Congressmen that the decline was not hidden in the ZOD. Without any explanation or discussion with Christy it disappeared in the First Order Draft. Contrary to the widely promoted myth that the IPCC Report is the consensus of thousands of experts, just a handful of individuals decided to “hide the decline” in the TAR, and this allowed the uncertainty that attached to all historic temperature reconstructions like the “hockey stick” to be ignored.
In his written evidence to the Committee, Christy wrote:
“Regarding the Hockey Stick of IPCC 2001 evidence now indicates, in my view, that an IPCC Lead Author working with a small cohort of scientists, misrepresented the temperature record of the past 1000 years by (a) promoting his own result as the best estimate, (b) neglecting studies that contradicted his, and (c) amputating another’s result so as to eliminate conflicting data and limit any serious attempt to expose the real uncertainties of these data.” See http://science.house.gov/sites/republica...
The growth of the Internet “blog” now provides many independent and often critical minds that will study “freely and widely available” IPCC working documents. If they are contemporaneously available none of the errors such as occurred in the IPCC Third and Fourth Assessment Reports will occur in the AR5 Report. On the other hand if the IPCC’s critics are forced to wait until after the final Report is published the inevitable mistakes and controversies may well prove fatal for the IPCC’s credibility.
I accept that climate scientists may be made to feel uncomfortable by public debate taking place as their deliberations proceed, but it must said that they are all paid from the public purse and that they compete for the honour of being listed as one of the IPCC authors. Their careers are enhanced by taking part. However, the work of many, both in public and private employment, is open to continuous public scrutiny and climate scientists should not expect special treatment.
Given the overwhelming importance of the IPCC assessment, the numerous complaints on its probity, the concerns raised by Climategate and Glaciergate, and given the global decline in the credibility of climate change science as shown in successive opinion polls, it makes no sense to resist the complete openness and transparency that Sir John Houghton claimed to be a necessity for scientific assessments that form an input to policy making.
A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
Dear Mr Holland,
Thank you for your email, I will forward it to the Registrar and Deputy Chief Executive who will consider the internal review.
As per your email the internal review will cover the Zero Order Draft (ZOD) or ZODs, together with the comments of the reviewers and any responses from the authors. Other aspects of the request will not be considered.
University of Exeter
Dear Mr Holland,
Please find attached the response to your request for an internal review.
University of Exeter
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