Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 May 2010
The importance of trustworthy scientific knowledge in climate negotiations
As a scientist, I have been engaged in the interplay between scientific analysis and politics for many years, and I have tried here to present an analysis of what has happened over the last 40 years and where we stand today.
The analysis has shown that a penetrating examination of the facts is an absolute necessity when trying to understand and deal with the major societal and political issues that confront us when we try to resolve the global climate change issue. The analyses must be accepted as trustworthy by the international scientific community and should therefore be carried out as far as possible as an independent and open scientific endeavour. The IPCC reports have been produced in a manner aimed at securing this status. They have largely been free from influence by politicians and stakeholders of different kinds. Nevertheless, government representatives have attended the final plenary sessions, when the summaries for policy makers were finally agreed and the extracts of the key scientific conclusions formulated in simple terms without compromising the basic scientific analyses in the supporting documents. This is a fundamental prerequisite for successful climate negotiations, and decisions about the joint efforts to be made by the parties to the Climate Convention. The development of a strict procedure of the kind that has been achieved by the IPCC has been essential and has also been taken as a model for other efforts of a similar kind.