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Climate Change

IPCC Chief Blames Lack of Knowledge Base for 'Glaciergate'

Responding to the ‘Glaciergate’ incident at The Energy and Resources Institue in New Delhi, IPCC Chief Dr. R K Pachauri said that the error in predicting the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers was a result of lack of adequate knowledge about the glacial dynamics. He also reiterated that even though there was an error in the estimation of complete melting of the glaciers the fact that they are actually melting must not be overlooked.


Refusing to accept that the error has raised credibility issues about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. Pachauri said that there is only one error in the 3000 pages long report which has been prepared by scores of eminent researchers under the aegis of the IPCC which has been trusted and supported by countries around the world for over 21 years.

It was recently reported that one of the paragraphs included in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report regarding the shrinkage of Himalayan glaciers which predicted there disappearance by 2035 was actually based on an interview of an Indian climate researcher rather than any scientific evidence. The Indian research has said that his remarks were misquoted that the prediction was reached through the study of only small glaciers and could be extrapolated for the bigger Himalayan glaciers.

Dr. Pachauri argued that a vast majority of the countries lack knowledge base to estimate and understand the impacts of climate change and that, primarily, is the reason for such mistakes. He said that glacial dynamics is a complex field and not many countries have either the technology or the professionals to carry out studies on the adverse effects of climate change on glaciers.

When asked if he would take the moral responsibility and resign from his post as the Chairman of the IPCC, Dr. Pachauri said that he has been elected by a wide consensus among the members of the United Nations and seeks to fulfill his duties assigned to him and is looking forward to release the Fifth Assessment report. Elaborating about the fifth assessment report, he said that the new report would highlight the social and economic impacts of climate change. The report would also enlist the possible mitigation technologies which could be used in order to reduce the carbon dioxide emission concentration in the atmosphere, including the largely untested carbon storage and sequestration technologies.

Dr. Pachauri also refused to take any action against the person/s responsible for the inclusion of the erroneous data in the report. He said that the researchers contributing to the Assessment reports are not the employees of IPCC and thus no action can be taken against them. But Dr. Pachauri did give assurance of stricter selection process for researchers contributing to the future reports.

Image Credit: UN Climate Talks (Creative Commons)

The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.

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Written By

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.


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