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IPCC's climate change report was whittled down: Senior economist

A senior economist has claimed that a politically sensitive part of the latest report released recently by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was watered down under pressure from some governments.

Harvard University's Professor Robert Stavins said that around 75 per cent of a section on the impact of international climate negotiations was removed. It is to be noted that Stavins was involved in compiling the report.

Prof Stavins, a leading expert on climate negotiations at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, has also written to the organisers of the Berlin meeting last week to express his "disappointment and frustration" at the IPCC's decision to remove the information.

"I fully understand that the government representatives were seeking to meet their own responsibilities toward their respective governments by upholding their countries' interests, but in some cases this turned out to be problematic for the scientific integrity of the IPCC summary for policy makers," he said.

The original draft of the section included the finding that the 1997 Kyoto protocol treaty had "limited effects on global emissions because some countries did not ratify the Protocol, some Parties did not meet their commitments, and its commitments applied to only a portion of the global economy."

Stavins claimed that government officials had a lengthy meeting with the leading authors of the report on April 12 and that;s when it was decided to remove some important portions of the report.

The section on the Kyoto protocol was changed to say: "The Kyoto protocol offers lessons towards achieving the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC [the UN climate change convention that underpins the global negotiations], particularly with respect to participation, implementation, flexibility mechanisms, and environmental effectiveness.'