NCPA: U.N. Report Misleads Policy Makers About Climate Change


DALLAS, TX (November 13, 2001) - Signatories to the Kyoto protocol on global warming will soon begin debate on whether to ratify the treaty in wake of a deal reached in Morocco this weekend at the United Nations conference on climate change. Yet in order to show that there is a genuine need for their actions, policy makers in each country will likely rely on a report that, according to an analysis by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), is misleading at best.

Every five years the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publishes a report that attempts to present a consensus view of the current understanding of the scientific basis of climate change. In an attempt to condense the 700-page full assessment into language suitable for moderately educated readers, they also publish a 20-page summary for policy makers. According to the NCPA analysis however, the summary downplays uncertainty, emphasizes human culpability and generally only provides information supporting adoption of the climate change treaty.

"Unfortunately, policy makers are unlikely to read the full report and will instead rely heavily on the summary to inform their decisions," said H. Sterling Burnett, NCPA Senior Fellow. "Knowing this reality, the authors of the summary have selectively only included the parts that support their favored theory and outcome."

According to the NCPA analysis conducted by environmental scientist Kenneth Green, the UN summary report is flawed for a variety of reasons, including:

  • The summary's prediction of warming and sea-level rise are based on made-up scenarios filtered through grossly simplified climate models after the full report had already been through expert review.
  • Increases in temperature are presented without pointing out that most of the warming cannot be attributed to human activities.
  • The summary grossly misrepresents ice and sea level data to indicate that human activity is melting glaciers and causing sea levels to rise, while ignoring evidence to the contrary.

"Contrary to the impression given in the summary report, the jury is still out on the cause for global warming," said Burnett. "It is to the Bush administration's credit that they've decided to wait for sound science before following other nation's off the economic cliff."

For a copy of the analysis, visit http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba378/