The head of the UN climate science body has admitted he was taken entirely by surprise by the ferocious public reaction to a blunder in its report on Himalayan glaciers. But he insisted the controversy had not set back efforts to secure action on climate change.
The mistake, a false assertion that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035, exacted severe damage to the reputation of the IPCC and its head, Rajendra Pachauri. It also provided further fuel to the controversy over the emails stolen from East Anglia's climate research unit and released online a year ago today.
Pachauri said he had not predicted the storm of criticism. "I had absolutely no idea what was coming. It just sort of escalated," Pachauri told the Guardian at a climate meeting sponsored by California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.Yeah, for sure that would have made all the difference.
Pachauri initially dismissed the first challenge to the accuracy of the 2007 report on melting of the Himalayas as "voodoo science". It took two months for the IPCC to acknowledge that the assertion on glaciers was based on flimsy data – a quote given to journalists – and should never have made it into the report.
"In retrospect we should have had a much better capacity at the IPCC to deal with this kind of thing," Pachauri said this week...