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Candidate Stocker?

This is a guest post by David Holland

I have heard rumours that Thomas Stocker might be a candidate to take over from ‘Pachy’ as the next Chairman of the IPCC. This now seems more likely than not (H/T Judith Curry). I’m not sure how many decision makers will see this but perhaps some letters to MPs might be in order.

For some of us Stocker first came to our notice in Climategate 2009. In May 2009, Phil Jones told Peter Thorne at the Met Office:

I did send an email to Thomas Stocker alerting him up to comment #17.[on ClimateAudit] These are all about who changed what in various chapters of AR4. I expect these to get worse with AR5.

Then, in July 2009, Tim Osborn asked Stocker for a letter to convince the Information Commissioner to refuse my information requests. Several letters were sent to the UEA and Met Office referring to an “overarching principle of confidentiality” and a vague threat to UK institutions. These resulted in their refusal to disclose critically important information and the notorious statement in the evidence of Universities UK to the Justice Committee

In another matter, we recently received exactly such representations from the IPCC TSU [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Technical Support Unit] based in Geneva, Switzerland in which they explicitly noted that release of such material would “…force us to reconsider our working arrangements with those experts who have been selected for an active role in WG1 AR5 [Working Group One, Fifth Assessment Report] from your institution and others within the United Kingdom”.

We saw the first fruits of Stocker's reconsideration of working arrangements at the the 36th Session of the IPCC in September 2013. The  Review Editors Reports which had played a critical part in both Climategate and Glaciergate, were not going to be made public in AR5. Instead government officials could view the 100 page document on a screen. If they wanted a copy - and DECC did not - an individually serial numbered copy with a bar code on every page would be emailed with the recipient's name and email address in its properties. They were eventually published after an MP had correspondence with DECC. 

However, stepping back to later in July 2009, Jones had told Thomas Peterson

I have got the IPCC Secretariat and Thomas to raise the FOI issues with the full IPCC Plenary, which meets in Bali in September or October [2010]. Thomas is fully aware of all the issues we've had here wrt Ch 6 last time, and others in the US have had.

As we know just a few weeks later in 2009, Climategate, Glaciergate and the InterAcademy Council (IAC) gave the IPCC Plenary in Bali some other important matters to discuss. Although no government or the IAC had asked for it, Stocker slipped, into the recommendations of the IAC, his request for confidentiality. These were eventually watered down on page 16 of the Report of the May 2011 IPCC 33rd Plenary Session at Abu Dhabi to

 ...during drafting and review...IPCC considers its draft reports, prior to acceptance, to be pre-decisional, provided in confidence to reviewers, and not for public distribution, quotation or citation.

A point to note here is that the Aarhus Convention in its Article 4(4)(d) explicitly requires information on emissions to be disclosed regardless of confidentiality.  Also, and perhaps unnoticed by many, on page 32 the same 33rd Session Report, the IPCC recorded its decision on the Principles of its Communications Strategy, which the InterAcademy Council had advised.  Item one is

The Panel’s communications approach and activities should, at all times, be consistent with the IPCC overarching principles of objectivity, openness and transparency.

In asking the Met Office for the AR5 Zero Order Drafts to be disclosed, I was directly challenging Stocker's omertà and a few weeks later at the Met Office’s request he issued a new edict.  In the first sentence, Professor Stocker acknowledges that the “the IPCC principles state that the assessment process should be on an open and transparent basis”, but not that it had just been decided that it is its “overarching principle”. He then seeks to redefine what the word “transparency” means, stating

Transparency implies that the public should be informed about the mechanism of an IPCC assessment and about the framework within which an IPCC Working Group (WG) carries out its assessment.

 Stocker then goes on to state, presumably because the IPCC has no recorded position on the ZODs, but ignoring the IPCC own overarching principle of transparency, restated just weeks earlier

The ZOD is a preliminary, internal draft only that is not subject to formal review and is clearly a pre-decisional document. It is therefore not in accordance with IPCC Procedures for this draft, and documents associated with its development such as the review comments and lists of reviewers, to be made public.

I think transparency means much more than seeing documents on mechanisms and frameworks.  It means seeing what actually happens in practice and the ZODs are part of that. Regardless of it not being subject to formal review, the recorded decision of the IPCC on 'drafts' is clear.  They are only considered confidential prior to 'acceptance'.  The penultimate paragraph of Stockers edict is utterly incompatible with the IPCC's own overarching principle. It states

As an overarching principle, all material sent by the Co-Chairs of WGI or by the WGI Technical Support Unit to members of the IPCC WGI author teams, past and present, is intended solely for the addressee. It is provided for a specific purpose and readership and is not intended for public distribution. We therefore do not give permission for its disclosure.

For the purpose of this post, and in the mind of any objective person, the comments above should be enough to disqualify Stocker as a candidate for to be Chairman of the IPCC.  However, were you believe that you and he are saving humanity he might be just person you want.  You might also applaud the Met Office which has refused to disclose the the 16 year old TAR ZODs claiming

The IPCC has an unwritten agreement of confidence with authors in relation to all ZODs produced as part of its assessment reports, and the understanding that they are not for public disclosure.

If you really believed that you and Stocker are saving humanity, you might also be prepared to state to a Tribunal, as Dr Peter Stott has supporting the Met Office refusal to disclose the 10 year old AR4 ZODs,

...While the 2011 [Stocker’s] document on confidentiality sets out the position of Working Group 1 this position has clearly been endorsed by the IPCC Panel at the 33rd Session of the IPCC in Abu Dhabi in May 2011.  It is therefore the agreed position of Governments that are party to the IPCC, as agreed by Government representatives.

I would like to ask BH readers if I have missed some thing in the Report of the 33rd IPCC Session or am I making a fair comment to say that the above statement of Stott is just not true? Yesterday was the deadline, set by the Tribunal on the AR4 ZODs, for further representations and I had made some robust but fair comments, on Stott's statement which was only revealed to me on 30 January 2015. The Met Office is now demanding a two day oral hearing. Words are beginning to fail me, but let me close by quoting from what might be Pachy's swan song to the 41st Session of the IPCC later this month.

IPCC BRAND – Specifically, when deciding on the format and approach for future products of the IPCC, it is useful for the Panel to keep in mind what makes the essence of IPCC assessments, namely scientific rigor and comprehensiveness. It is essential that any format decided for the future products of the IPCC does not allow for any compromise on their robustness, comprehensiveness, rigour and transparency, as these qualities guarantee the authority of IPCC assessments as providing the most up-to-date and best scientific information available in the field of climate change.



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Reader Comments (13)

If it isn't him it will be someone just as bad. Frankly...the more tainted the better.

Feb 17, 2015 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

'For the purpose of this post, and in the mind of any objective person, the comments above should be enough to disqualify Stocker as a candidate for to be Chairman of the IPCC.'

True and its always been notable how much such 'smoke and mirrors' has been required in this 'settled science' while its correct to point out by these action a lack of trust has been created which has done nothing but hold back progress ' on the most important event ever ' or so we told .
Stocker sounds like exactly like the type of UN functionary whose training came straight out 'yes minster ' school of civil service providing none answer and any 'evidenced' that is required to support politic stances, regardless of reality .

A two face BS artist , long on words and short on honest , who gets their kicks from sitting within meetings for hours that produce nothing but another date for meeting , he sounds ideal for the head of the IPCC .

Feb 17, 2015 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Climate science and rigour. Given the resistance to Steve McIntyre's effort to bring rigour to field, those are two concepts that are difficult to link with a straight face.

Feb 17, 2015 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterTAG

Climate science and rigour. Given the resistance to Steve McIntyre's effort to bring rigour to field, those are two concepts that are difficult to link with a straight face.

Feb 17, 2015 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterTAG

If you search "Stocker" over at Climate Audit, you'll find 3 quite illuminating discussions from 2012 about Mr Stocker and his complete lack of transparency and his overt manipulative desire to block information flow, as supplement information to what the Bishop has described here.
Scientific rigour and transparency are mutually exclusive concepts with him it seems. How bizarre that with that kind of known public background, he could even be considered for the position. It suggests the IPCC is entirely broken, and "something is rotten in the state of Denmark".

Feb 17, 2015 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered Commentermikegeo

As has been clear for many years, Stocker is pre-eminently a superb proponent of the great global bureaucratic game, one in which even Sir Humphrey may have struggled. It demands a supremely flexible mind, a wonderful talent for obfuscation, an utter disregard for truth and a steely minded determination to master its most obscure backwaters. It is an exceedingly hard school. It rewards those who succeed in ways the likes of the rest of us can only dream about. It is hard not to admire so supreme a master of these infinite complexities. That said, it is only too easy to be dismayed that our fate seems likely to be consigned to a man whose sole interest is his own advancement, a man, moreover, who becomes ever more certain of his right to de haut en bas pronouncements, as, simultaneously, he dismisses the feeble concerns those of us forced to fund and laud him timidly raise. He would have been much at home in 1st-century BC Rome.

Feb 17, 2015 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

I am sure the UN will use regressive democratic purposes to appoint their preferred candidate, who will deliver even clearer guidance than Pachuri, on how to reduce developed economies down to the level of those seeking equality.

Feb 17, 2015 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

I met Thomas Stocker last summer at a climate conference organised by the met office and Exeter University at which I also met Richard Betts.

Stocker exhibited, for the first time ever in my experience from a major IPCC figure, some welcome humility and uncertainty.

It was in connection with a debate about the warming of the oceans when he admitted that we did not have the technology to measure the temperature of the deep oceans, by that he was referring to depths below 2000 metres.

In general I felt he was a little pedestrian but he didn't come over as a dyed in the wool climate warrior as a Couple of the other scientists on the panel did.

Good choice, if Richard Betts won't take the job...


Feb 17, 2015 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyb

Tonyb's comments (taken with all others') suggest a man happy to pretend to run with the hare whilst enthusiastically hunting with the hounds.
No doubt he will be a very 'safe' pair of hands for the IPCC.
But I'm surprised they aren't considering someone with more scientific knowledge, more diplomacy, more obviously a man of both principal and gravitas.
Michael Mann would be good. Bob Ward would be even better.
But my money would be on Lewandowski.
The IPCC and Lewandowski would be an unbeatable combination.

Feb 17, 2015 at 11:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

'he admitted that we did not have the technology to measure the temperature of the deep oceans, by that he was referring to depths below 2000 metres.'

Not that will stop him from claiming the 'models ' can provide the 'right ' data so the lack of measurement in no way stops them making 'hidden heat ' claims .

It really is odd that undergraduates currently taken science course all over the UK will be told about the importance of showing their data and how transparency is important if they wish to pass their degrees , and yet professional scientists like Stocker can dump all over those ideas without any effect on their careers . Why is it that a standard unacceptably low for a student is fine for a professional ?

Feb 18, 2015 at 12:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

A westerner, a white, a man .. That is not the PC I expect from the UN.

Feb 18, 2015 at 2:14 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

If a scientist volunteers his time to the IPCC without pay and then claims proprietary rights to data and software he has used, how can the public be confident that he is not a political activist or lobbyist?

There is a very good reason for demanding transparency in how the IPCC works. The economic cost the public is asked to bear is the price of the public's ticket to see the show.

Does anyone believe Chairman Pachuri when he repeats his mantra that the IPCC is policy neutral? That the IPCC never prescribes policy? At the end of the IPCC process, the summary for policymakers provides a road-map sign-posted to indicate policies the IPCC leadership wish to be adopted.

Chairman Pachuri was able to announce a year or so in advance what the conclusion of AR5 would be. This was possible because the multi-year IPCC process is reverse-engineered. The very definition of climate change used by the IPCC excludes natural climate change. This biases the research process in the direction of the conclusion that humans are the main drivers of climate change. In turn, this leads to policies for reduction, and now sequestration, of CO2 and avoidance of fossil fuels.

IPCC drives the policy-making process that has, does and will cost the taxpayers of member countries a lot of cash in the form of taxes. IPCC-driven policies cost workers loss of jobs and producers loss of production.

IPCC policies are supported by cost-benefit studies that are also reverse-engineered. I see no other reason for using discount rates close to zero, a technique that results in scenarios where richer future generations will enjoy the benefits of sacrifices by the present generation. This is reverses the stated rationale of cost-benefit methodology, which is to ensure inter-generational equity.

Cost-benefit studies for climate substantially underestimate or ignore altogether the benefits to forestry, fisheries and agriculture of both warming and CO2 fertilization.

No cost-benefit study that I have seen has taken account of the impact of increased CO2 on reducing water loss by plants. Yet evidence for this is provided online by NASA and NOAA based on maps of a vegetation index (NDVI) derived from satellite data.

I do not impute misbehavior to the economists who do these studies, but I do wonder if the economists involved know enough about the physical and biological processes that make our modern agricultural and industrial economies work.

It's not that I don't know economist and don't know how they do cost-benefit analysis, but in 40-years practice, I have been most impressed by economists' lack of detailed knowledge of engineering, physics, chemistry and biology.

The problem with demonizing fossil fuels is that the world has not yet developed the means to replace them. Carbon sequestration costs will have to be borne by consumers and may become a major drag on the economies of both industrialized and agricultural regions. And, apart from states such as North Korea and Myanmar, no state has deliberately implemented fossil-fuel austerity, although several now set fuel austerity as a goal.

Feb 18, 2015 at 3:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrederick Colbourne

Frederick Colbourne no AGW no IPCC , so what approach do you think they will take?

Feb 18, 2015 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

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