European Panel on Climate Change???

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body that deals with review of scientific research on climate change. It was created in 1988 under the UN Environmental Programme and the World Meteorological Organization.

On July 12th, 2011, at a meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Energy, and Research, a Polish MEP posed the question of whether it would not be a good idea to create a European Panel on Climate Change. The question was posed to the Polish Minister of Education.

The general thesis behind this suggestion is that Europe’s 20-20-20 programme is based on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at all costs. Therefore, why not create a panel on the European level that will review strictly specific European research on the effects of climate change?

I oppose this view on two accounts. First, the political side shows that there already is a body which reviews research on climate change, on the global scale, which includes Europe. It is not needed to double check research reviews conducted on the World level. Moreover, climate change is a global problem and requires a global solution. Creating such a body on the European level would send the message that Europe is somehow special when it comes to greenhouse gasses, which it is not.

Secondly, I ask you to imagine the financial aspects of creating a body of people to review research on climate change on the European level. It has to be taken into account that the IPCC has a core team of 10 people, who are specialists in their fields (mostly university professors). So, the operational costs of the Panel as such are not very high. However, from the viewpoint of the researcher, having a study published by the IPCC is a great honor and high recognition for their work. This point is illustrated by the great increase in articles submitted by scientists to the Panel for review. The underlying fact is that research costs money, and non-innovative research wastes money.

Therefore, creating a European Panel on Climate Change would cause a shift in political thinking about Europe and would bring about needless review of already-reviewed scientific research. It would also cause an increase in research, much of which would simply demonstrate that already existing conclusions have been confirmed and re-confirmed. Another potential result could be that conclusions drawn by the IPCC could contradict those of the new European Panel, and that would lead to discrediting the scientific community on climate change. Taking into account the gravity of the problem, such petty arguments would play a nasty joke on us all.


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