Who makes the decisions of the IPCC and how?

David Holland made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Energy and Climate Change

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department of Energy and Climate Change,

I am trying to obtain information on what the British Government consider to be the “legal person” known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (for short the IPCC) and how its decisions are made. In particular I want to know what procedures it must follow to decide upon actions that are urgent or extraordinary.

Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work published at the website of the IPCC state that:

(a) “Members of the IPCC are countries who are Members of WMO and/or UNEP”
(b) “Session of the Panel refers to a series of meetings at the plenary level of the governmental representatives to the IPCC.”

Appendix C to the Principles state:

“Each delegation of a Member of the IPCC represented in the Panel Session shall have one vote.”

The IPCC Principles themselves state:

(c) “Major decisions of the IPCC will be taken by the Panel in plenary meetings.”
(d) “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.”
(e) “In taking decisions, and approving, adopting and accepting reports, the Panel, its Working Groups and any Task Forces shall use all best endeavours to reach consensus. If consensus is judged by the relevant body not possible for decisions on procedural issues, these shall be decided according to the General Regulations of the WMO”

Question 1. Can DECC confirm that the legal person referred to as the IPCC consists only of a Panel of government delegates Chaired by a non voting person elected by the Panel and only decisions agreed to by the representatives of member governments are official IPCC decisions? If not please state what other constituent parts the IPCC has and who other than government members of the IPCC can make major decisions or decide the official view of the IPCC.

Question 2. Would a formal complaint to a member nation’s regulator or, for example, the request last year to the InterAcademy Council for a review of IPCC policies and procedures, be considered by DECC to be a “major decision” or require an “official view” of the IPCC to be agreed by the panel?

In regard to the InterAcademy Council Review the letter, of 10 March 2010 sent jointly by the UN Secretary-General and the Chairman of the IPCC requesting it, referred to consultations including those with the IPCC members conducted at the Eleventh Special Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum held by UNEP in February 2010. At the 32nd Session of IPCC in October 2010 the Secretary reported that:

“On 16 February 2010 a letter No.6927-10/IPCC/AR5 was addressed to all government focal points in which it was conveyed that an independent review of the IPCC’s processes and procedures be carried out.”

Please provide me with a copy of the above referenced letter.

Question 3. Can DECC confirm that in the British Governments view this was an appropriate, satisfactory and legitimate way of dealing with the extraordinary and urgent circumstances caused by the combination of Climategate and Glaciergate? If not what procedures should have been followed?

In March 2007, an earlier event occurred with the Channel 4 broadcast of the Great Global Warming Swindle and the public disquiet that followed it. On 4 May 2007, 53 days after the last broadcast of the programme and 27 days before the normal deadline for “fairness” complaints to be made to the British Office of Communications, the IPCC held a plenary meeting in Bangkok. I can find no record of a “fairness” complaint being discussed or agreed in the session report, despite there apparently being an adequate opportunity for it.

However, In Ofcom's Bulletin 114 in a footnote on page 12 it states:

"The IPCC was one of the bodies that complained to Ofcom under the Fairness rules of the Code about its treatment in the programme."

In reply to RFI2379 DECC stated:

“Defra had no direct involvement in the submission of the complaint to Ofcom about the Channel 4 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle”

Question 4. For the avoidance of doubt can DECC confirm that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change did not and has not sent, made, or authorised to be sent or made, an official IPCC fairness complaint against Channel 4’s broadcast of The Great Global Warming Swindle programme?

If in answer to Question 4, DECC is stating that the IPCC did send, make or authorise a complaint to be made to Ofcom, please provide me with copies of the documentary evidence you have, or Internet URLs for them, that show that the members of the IPCC were formally consulted, as clearly happened last year, and/or that it was a decision agreed by the IPCC members at a plenary session of the IPCC.

Yours faithfully,

David Holland

FOI Requests,

DECC Ref: 11/0036

Dear Mr Holland,

Thank you for your request for information which was received on 10
January 2011. Your request has been passed on to the appropriate official
at the Department of Energy and Climate Change to deal with.

Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and will be responded at the latest by 7 February
2011.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact the information
rights unit at BIS who have a shared service when dealing with requests
for DECC. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any
future communications.

Best wishes,
Information Rights Unit

Information Rights Unit | Department for Business, Innovation & Skills |
[1][email address] | Orchard 3, 1st Floor, 1 Victoria Street,
London, SW1H OET | [2]www.bis.gov.uk | BIS have a shared service level
agreement with DECC to process and advise on their FOI requests

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) is building a
dynamic and competitive UK economy by creating the conditions for business
success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone
the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this we will foster
world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS -
Investing in our future

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Dear Sirs,

DECC Ref: 11/0036

I wish to complain most strongly at your handling of this request. First of all the request was sent on the 9th of January so DECC would have had it first thing on the 10th, at the latest. This means that you should have replied by the end of the 4th February not the 7th.

Secondly you repeat that you are handling the complaint under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. While you were technically correct to acknowledge it under the Act, you should in 20 working days have reached the conclusion that most, if not all, of the information is exempt under s.39 and you should now be considering it under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Decision Notice FS50242937 ruled that the complaint to Ofcom allegedly on behalf of the IPCC, which is central to my request is environmental information. Numerous decisions by the Information Commissioner and the Tribunal have established that any information required for a proper understanding of an environmental matter is most likely also to by ruled as environmental.

Thirdly I can not believe you have not located some of the information and ask that you let me have now whatever you have to hand.

Yours faithfully,

David Holland

FOI Requests,

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Holland

Please see attached response regarding your information request, reference
11/0036.

<<11-0036 EIR response final.pdf>> <<Annex A 6927-10 IPCC AR5.pdf>>
<<11-0036 non EIR correspondence response final.pdf>>

Best wishes,
Ms L Smyth
Information Rights Unit | Department for Business, Innovation & Skills |
[1][email address] |Orchard 3, 1st Floor, 1 Victoria Street,
London, SW1H OET | [2]www.bis.gov.uk |BIS have a shared service level
agreement with DECC to process their FOI requests

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) is building a
dynamic and competitive UK economy by creating the conditions for business
success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone
the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this we will foster
world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS -
Investing in our future

show quoted sections

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