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Hijack cry on climate report

- Allegation of watering down synopsis

April 14: Experts from developing countries directly involved with preparing the just-published assessment of a global panel on climate change today claimed the synopsis for policymakers had been “watered down” compared with the detailed technical report.

They also said scientists from developed countries had “hijacked” the report to shift the climate-change onus more on developing nations.

In its fifth assessment report released in Berlin yesterday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had warned that greenhouse gas emissions had climbed to unprecedented levels over the past decade but defined no effective tools.

While the IPCC releases a detailed technical report, the synopsis — or the summary for policymakers — has to be approved by governments and ultimately decides the course of action. Climate change analysts believe the report would further intensify pressure on the developing countries, including India, to do more to curb emissions.

Shreekant Gupta, an associate professor at the Delhi School of Economics and a co-ordinating lead author of the report from Berlin, said the summary for policymakers had “changed substantially in last few days” as some countries got parts of the text “deleted”.

“Some developing countries (apparently India and Brazil among others) insisted on stripping charts from the report’s executive summary that could be read as requiring greater effort from them, while rich countries — including the US — struck out language implying they needed to write big cheques to the developing countries. Both points survived in the full version of the report, but were deleted from a synopsis meant for the world’s top political leaders,” Gupta told The Telegraph.

What ultimately resulted, Gupta added, is a “fairly anodyne document that states the obvious and does not add much to what is known since the fourth assessment report published in 2007”.

Chukwumerije Okereke, another lead author from a developing country, said affluent nations had “watered down” their responsibility for emission curbs.

“It’s a fact that the IPCC report has been largely hijacked by scientists from northern countries (rich countries) and the interest of developing countries, including India, has been compromised,” Gupta said. He said he had warned the Indian government in 2012 that the IPCC report could be used as a tool against developing countries, but nothing was done.

The report is likely to play a crucial role in securing an ambitious global climate treaty, which is supposed to be completed by late 2015 and come into effect in 2020.