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Planet Ark World Environment News Former Princeton Head To Review U.N. Climate Panel

Date: 04-May-10
Country: NORWAY
Author: Alister Doyle

A former president of Princeton University will lead a review of the U.N. panel of climate scientists after errors in a 2007 report used as a guide for fighting global warming, science academies said on Monday.

Economist Harold Shapiro, 74, will chair the 12-member committee that is due to report by August 30 on the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

"We approach this review with an open mind," Shapiro said in a statement of the committee appointed by the Amsterdam-based InterAcademy Council (IAC), which groups national science academies.

Canadian-born Shapiro is a former president both of Princeton and the University of Michigan. Other committee members include Mario Molina, a Nobel Chemistry Prize winner and Maureen Cropper, a former lead economist at the World Bank.

In January, the IPCC acknowledged that its latest report in 2007 exaggerated the pace of melt of Himalayan glaciers by saying they might all disappear by 2035. In February, it said it also over-stated how much of the Netherlands was below sea level.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the review in March after controversy around the IPCC mistakes eroded trust. People who doubt human activities are warming the planet say the reports are biased to exclude alternative views.

Ban has reaffirmed key IPCC conclusions that it is at least 90 percent certain that human activities are the main cause of climate change in recent decades that is set to bring more heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

The review committee will have its first meeting in Amsterdam on May 14-15. Roseanne Diab, executive officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa, will serve as vice chair. Other members will be from countries including China, India, Brazil, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and Malaysia.

Issues to be reviewed include "data quality assurance and control; the type of literature that may be cited in IPCC reports; expert and government review of IPCC materials; handling of the full range of scientific views; and the correction of errors," it said.

The committee would also review "other processes, including management functions and communication strategies."

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