Saudi says trust in climate scientists "shaken"
UN climate chief defends findings despite leaked emails
Saudia Arabia told global warming talks on Monday that trust in climate science had been "shaken" by leaked emails and called for an international probe as the head of the United Nation's panel of climate scientists strongly defended findings that humans are warming the planet.
"The level of confidence is certainly shaken. We believe this scandal is definitely going to affect the nature of what can be fostered (in Copenhagen). The size of (economic) sacrifices must be built on a secure foundation of information which we found now is not true," Saudi delegate, Mohammed al-Sabban, said.
Al-Sabban called for an "independent" international investigation, but said that the U.N. climate science body was unqualified to carry it out.
"The IPCC, which is the authority accused, is not going to be able to conduct the investigation," he said, referring to the Nobel-winning U.N. Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC).
The Saudi negotiator rejected IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri's defense of the integrity of the panel's findings -- delivered earlier in the plenary session -- as "general statements."
"In light of recent information... the scientific scandal has assumed huge proportion," al-Sabban said.
"We think it is definitely going to affect the nature of what can be trusted in the negotiations."
The level of confidence is certainly shaken. We believe this scandal is definitely going to affect the nature of what can be fostered in Copenhagen. The size of economic sacrifices must be built on a secure foundation of information which we found now is not true
Climate change skeptics have seized on a series of hacked emails written by climate specialists, accusing them of colluding to suppress others' data and enhance their own.
The emails, some written as long as 13 years ago, were stolen by unknown hackers and rapidly spread across the Internet, showing that scientists had manipulated evidence.
In one email, confirmed by the University of East Anglia as genuine, the head of its Climatic Research Unit (CRU), Phil Jones, said he wanted to ensure a specific paper which doubted climate science was excluded from the IPCC's 2007 report.
Pachauri, head of the IPCC, told a climate conference that its findings were "subjected to extensive and repeated reviews by experts as well as by governments."
The IPCC concluded in 2007 that it was at least 90 percent certain that humans were to blame for global warming.
"The evidence is now overwhelming that the world would benefit greatly from early action," Pachauri told delegates at the opening session of the Dec. 7-18 Copenhagen summit.
"The recent incident of stealing the emails of scientists at the University of East Anglia shows that some (people) would go to the extent of carrying out illegal acts perhaps in an attempt to discredit the IPCC."
That paper did in fact appear in the final 2007 report, the university says. Pachauri on Monday defended scientists named in the "climategate" row.
"The internal consistency from multiple lines of evidence strongly supports the work of the scientific community, including those individuals singled out in these email exchanges," Pachauri told the 192-nation conference.
"Given the wide-ranging nature of (economic) change that is likely be taken in hand, some naturally find it inconvenient to accept its inevitability."
Another British climate research center, the MetOffice Hadley Centre, plans to publish this week data from more than 1,000 locations around the world to boost transparency and underpin evidence that the world is warming.
"We are confident (it) will show that global average temperatures have risen over the last 150 years," it said in a statement, adding that the move had the support of the University of East Anglia.
"As soon as we have all permissions in place we will release the remaining station records."
The evidence is now overwhelming that the world would benefit greatly from early action
The comments came at the biggest climate meeting in history, with 15,000 participants from 192 nations seeking to agree curbs on greenhouse gas emissions and raise billions of dollars for the poor in aid and clean technology.
Campaigners say politicians have 2 weeks to save the planet from catastrophic climate change in the talks, which end with a summit of 105 world leaders -- including U.S. President Barack Obama, on Dec. 18.
The summit will have to overcome deep distrust between rich and poor nations about sharing the cost of emissions cuts.
The attendance of the leaders and pledges to curb emissions by all the top emitters -- led by China, the United States, Russia and India -- have raised hopes for an accord after sluggish negotiations in the past two years.
The goal is to seal an ambitious political agreement in outline form.
Further negotiations would take place in 2010 to fill in the details and -- if all goes well -- from the end of 2012, the new pact would take effect.