Select Committee on Science and Technology Third Report


1.It is largely because its process of assessment is, in Sir John Houghton's words, "open, transparent and rigorous" that the IPCC's reports command such general respect. (Paragraph 6)
2.The summaries of the IPCC's assessment reports are concise and useful documents, and present the consensus view of climate change in appropriately cautious terms. However, focusing attention on these summaries may limit the IPCC's effectiveness in communicating to policymakers the extent of the uncertainties of climate change science. (Paragraph 8)
3.We recommend that the Government actively promote the IPCC model in other policy areas of global significance in which there is considerable scientific uncertainty. (Paragraph 9)
4.We agree that it is important for the Hadley Centre to work closely with other specialist institutes, and that it should continue to concentrate on its core strengths. However, we strongly suggest that it might benefit from more in-house staff with expertise outside meteorology, including the biological sciences. (Paragraph 12)
5.We recommend that the results of the 10 year review of the Hadley Centre be published as soon as it is completed. (Paragraph 13)
6.It is important for public confidence that scientific advice to Government on climate change, as in other areas, should be seen to be independent and not dependent solely on the Hadley Centre. (Paragraph 14)
7.There must be concern whether the Hadley Centre is able to offer Government critical assessment of the IPCC reports, because it is so closely involved in the IPCC process. (Paragraph 15)
8.If the Tyndall Centre proves its worth, we recommend that its funding be put on a more secure and long-term footing, since climate change issues will be with us for many years yet. (Paragraph 17)
9.The Government must ensure that it receives advice on climate change from all relevant scientific disciplines. (Paragraph 18)
10.The Government must also ensure that it is aware of the views of independent scientists, who may dissent from the consensus view of climate change. (Paragraph 19)
11.We believe that there needs to be some rethinking of the mechanisms by which Government gets its advice. Clear and transparent channels should be available through which scientists who hold dissenting views can readily communicate their ideas to policymakers and can have confidence that they have been heard. (Paragraph 19)
12.We recommend that the Government establish a new independent advisory committee to advise Government on the science of climate change and on policy options. (Paragraph 20)
13.We recommend that the Government reconsider the adequacy of the current research programme on the biological effects of climate change, and its funding, and ensure that it is properly integrated with other climate change research. (Paragraph 25)
14.We are not convinced that the UK's national research programme on climate change is sufficiently coherent overall or that it has the required breadth in all areas. (Paragraph 26)
15.The formula used by the IPCC to communicate degrees of uncertainty could usefully be adopted in other scientific advice. (Paragraph 27)
16.Climate change is a prime example of an area in which the precautionary principle is being applied. Even though there is considerable uncertainty, the consequences of inaction are sufficiently serious to require action. In this case, some action is being taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions, even though it is not absolutely certain that greenhouse gases cause climate change, because the consequences of inaction for the climate may be great. (Paragraph 28)
17.We urge the Government to demonstrate that it is observing the precautionary principle, not just in its policy on emissions, but in responding to the threatened effects of climate change - for example, in flood prevention measures and planning policy - and in alternative transport strategies and in investing in research and development in renewable energy. (Paragraph 28)
18.It is most important that the Department's analysis of the changes required to reduce CO2 emissions by 60% be published to inform the public debate on climate change. (Paragraph 29)
19.Policymakers in this country and abroad ought to resist the temptation to hide behind scientific uncertainty in order to avoid introducing the very great changes required to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations significantly. (Paragraph 29)
20.There are considerable commercial opportunities for UK science and technology, in responding, together with industry, to the challenges of climate change. (Paragraph 30)
21.Scientific advice on climate change and its management must be communicated effectively across both central and local Government. (Paragraph 33)
22.Climate change is an area in which, broadly speaking, scientific advice to Government appears to be working well. (Paragraph 34)
23.The research programme must anticipate the need for advice in future years and should be broad enough to address new and unforeseen issues as they arise. (Paragraph 35)
24.The IPCC has played a very important part in forging an international consensus on climate change, among both scientists and Governments, though it is regrettable that the USA is yet to appreciate the necessity of early action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. We urge the UK Government to press for international agreement on the rules for implementing the Kyoto Protocol when the negotiations are resumed in the summer of 2001. (Paragraph 36)
25.We believe that the IPCC model could usefully be adopted for scientific advice in other policy areas of global significance, for example on genetically modified organisms and ocean pollution. (Paragraph 37)

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