COP26 climate change summit: IPCC should publish submissions from governments trying to influence scientific reports – Scotsman comment

Nine days to COP26: A leak of thousands of documents has revealed how countries are trying to influence the conclusions of a major scientific report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

For example, oil giant Saudi Arabia predictably took issue with the IPCC line that the “focus of decarbonisation efforts in the energy-systems sector needs to be on rapidly shifting to zero-carbon sources and actively phasing out fossil fuels”.

And Norway, another oil producer, argued carbon-capture-and-storage should be treated as a more significant prospect. The IPCC’s draft report does say this might be useful, but adds “there is large ambiguity in the extent to which fossil fuels with CCS would be compatible with the 2C and 1.5C targets” of the Paris Agreement.

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However, why did it take a leak to make information public? Should not the citizens of these countries be allowed to see what their governments are doing on their behalf but behind closed doors?

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There might be little that an ordinary Saudi could do to challenge their rulers’ actions, but in democratic Norway this should be a subject of public discussion and debate.

One answer would be for the IPCC to publish any submissions it receives as a matter of course. There would, naturally, continue to be ‘quiet chats' and the like, but such inputs would be easier to ignore if they are not made official by being put in writing and published.

Transparency is vital for good decision-making. Governments should always be held accountable for their actions and their claims on this most important issue should be open to being countered by anyone who might have different information or better reasoning.

A flame sends smoke billowing into the sky at a Saudi Aramco oil installation in Al-Khurais, Saudi Arabia (Picture: Marwan Naamani/AFP via Getty Images)

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