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U.N. climate panel: errors shouldn't eclipse progress
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The U.N panel of climate scientists said on Friday that mistakes in a 2007 report should not eclipse its progress and detract from a valid body of work on the risks of global warming.
Addressing a committee reviewing its work, the panel's chairman said the mistakes were down to human failure, adding its limited budget was partially responsible for the errors.
"We have been less than adequate in informing the public that, all right, we made an error but this does not take away from the fact that the glaciers are melting," said Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In January, the IPCC said 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.
Some doubt that human activities are warming the planet and say that these errors fit a tendency to exaggerate evidence for global warming. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the panel's review in March.
Addressing the 12-member committee at its first meeting in Amsterdam, Pachauri said authors contributing to its reports had to follow a process of checks and balances and had to critically assess every source they wanted to include.
"Our procedures are robust but we need to ensure that they are adhered to scrupulously," Pachauri said, telling the panel he would be "grateful for any suggestions to try to make this as foolproof as humanely possible."
Pachauri said the IPCC secretariat was restricted by its budget, which he estimated at around $5 million-$7 million a year, and limited autonomy on how to spend it. That, he said, was partly why it was slow to react to recent criticism.
"We need to ensure that there is proper supervision without tying people up in a bureaucratic framework," he said. "The one issue that is critically important is the motivation and morale of the scientific community."
He said however that the panel would continue to draw at times on "grey literature" that has not gone through rigorous checks by other scientists. Such literature includes government reports or work by experts at environmental groups, he said.
The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. The committee, led by Economist Harold Shapiro, 74, is due to report its findings by Aug. 30.
Issues to be reviewed include data quality 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.
(Editing by Maria Golovnina)
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