May 20, 2010 / 4:30 PM / 10 years ago

Next U.N. climate review to assess economy, security

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations panel of climate scientists plans to tackle the way societies adapt to a changing climate and the effects of food insecurity in its next report on climate change, senior officials said on Thursday.

Rajendra Pachauri, head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), speaks during a news conference at the UN Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen December 8, 2009. REUTERS/Bob Strong/Files

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is currently selecting 600 to 700 lead authors from over 3,000 nominations to produce the fifth flagship report, due in 2014, said IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri.

Earlier this year the IPCC said that its last assessment report, issued in 2007, had exaggerated the pace at which Himalayan glaciers were melting and overstated how much of the Netherlands was below sea level.

Those errors, coupled with persistent doubts in some quarters that human activity is warming the planet, prompted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in March to announce a review of U.N. climate science by a committee of national science academies to restore trust.

Pachauri told a news conference the IPCC was looking forward to the report and recommendations of the committee at the end of August, and noted he had appeared before it a week ago.

The 2014 report will examine increasing acidity in oceans, how societies adapt to climate change, and the impact of food insecurity on military conflict and economic growth, as well as scientific topics such as the impact of climate changes on clouds and the sea level.

“What would dictate action and what would be policy-relevant are the economic dimensions of mitigation measures,” Pachauri said.

Thomas Stocker, who leads the IPCC working group on physical science, said scepticism was fundamental for all scientists and the U.N. panel wanted to recruit authors with a variety of views who were prepared to test their theories against the facts, but did not want activists who push one or other side of the debate.

Pachauri said climate change was about more than global warming, and affected the sea level, farming, human health and extreme weather events ranging from rain to heatwaves.

He said that climate change would continue for several decades even if greenhouse gas emissions that affect change were frozen at current levels.

“What we really can’t delay much longer, if we want to stabilise the climate of the planet, is mitigation measures by which we reduce emissions significantly,” he said.

Stocker said it was now agreed that the levels of the two main greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, were higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years.

Pachauri said it was impossible to link single events — such as unusually cold weather for one month, or a hurricane — to climate change, even though the trend was clear. (Reporting by Jonathan Lynn, editing by Tim Pearce)

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