WikiLeaks / Cablegate: Cable Confirms IPCC is a Political Football to Protect US Interests

Ever since the formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme, the IPCC has been under attack by climate skeptics for, apparently, espousing pseudo-science, being an enemy of economic progress and, in some quarters, just an excuse for governments to raise taxes. Indeed, there are many areas in which the IPCC could be justifiably criticised, but not for being too hasty in their prognistications about the changing climate. The problem, as many climate scientists working at the cutting-edge of systems analysis suggest, is that the IPCC is far too conservative in its work.

This comes about partly as a result of the review process for its major publications – the Assessment Reports – which are assembled over a period of around 2 years as a meta-analysis of the corpus of current scientific research. This scientific research upon which the ARs are based will have already been partly superceded once the AR is assembled and then, adding even more time, approved by the review bodies. During the laborious review process the ARs are progressively watered-down to ensure only findings with the widest body of evidence are presented: it is not the bulk of the climate skeptic views that are removed (for there are few such papers in existence, given their non-scientific basis) but the genuine cutting-edge findings that describe, for instance, how feedback effects in the atmospheric-oceanic system are accelerating change.

This is almost inevitable, given the IPCC is a body of compromise. It is not a scientific journal, nor is it a policy institute…at least that’s what the IPCC would have us believe. Again, climate skeptics take the view that individuals such as Chair, Rajendra Pachauri should “stop making statements demanding new taxes and other radical policies on cutting emissions.” That would seem the sensible course of action for what is meant to be a scientific body; but as with the ARs being far too conservative a reflection of the current scientific view, the practical statements (usually in the form of the “Summary for Policymakers” documents) produced by the IPCC are backward-looking and timid to say the least. These certainly appear to have been under the control of powerful government interests for some time.

A September 2008 cable from the then US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice to eight European embassies, along with the Japanese Embassy, demonstrates how much power interested governments are prepared to wield in order to ensure their political and idealogical viewpoints are satisfied when it comes to the work of this powerful body. The cable may specifically refer to the desire to prevent the election of an Iranian scientist to an influential position, but it also opens a valuable window to the general methodology used by the US government. Notice the phrase (in brackets) “please protect” with reference to IPCC Chair, Rajendra Pachauri: likely to be a reference not to his physical safety, but to his position within the organisation. Note also the phrase “assist the U.S. Delegation to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its efforts to secure a positive outcome” in the opening summary; this is clear evidence that the US wants to ensure “their people” are in place within the organisation.

By far the most damning evidence of undercover machinations to secure a “positive outcome” is in the phrase “Until such a call is received, however, Missions should take no action on this issue; USDEL will be interacting directly with host-country expert delegations in Geneva, and premature contacts/demarches with host country government officials in capitals, even to preview the background of the situation, could be highly counter-productive.” In other words, the recipients of the cable must not allow anyone to know they are working to skew the outcome of the elections as it would suggest that the USA wants to influence both foreign and global climate policy.


Reference ID: 08STATE93970
Created: 2008-09-02 23:11
Released: 2010-12-21 21:09
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Origin: Secretary of State


C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 093970


EO 12958 DECL: 09/02/2018


Classified By: Classified by IO/DAS Gerald Anderson for reasons 1.4(b) and (d)

1. (U) This is an action message. Please see paragraph 3.

2. (C) Summary. Missions should be prepared to assist the U.S. Delegation to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its efforts to secure a positive outcome to elections for working group co-chair positions at the IPCC Plenary being held in Geneva, August 31-September 4. USDEL is working actively to prevent the election of an Iranian scientist to the developing-nation co-chairmanship of Working Group Two, a position which would pair him with a U.S. scientist running unopposed for developed-nation co-chair of the same group. The focus of USG efforts is to support an alternate candidacy for the position, although the full slate of active candidates and their potential for election will not be known until the later stages of the plenary sessions. Curricula vitae of some of the leading candidates are at paras 6-10. End Summary.

3. (C) Action Request. Missions should assign a Point-of-Contact for this issue and provide phone and e-mail information to the US Mission to the UN in Geneva. USUN should appoint its own POC and relay contact information for all POCs to USDEL IPCC. In the event that USDEL requires assistance in working with counterpart delegations (e.g., coming to a consensus on a single strong alternate candidate to support), USDEL may contact Mission POCs directly, or via US Mission Geneva, to ask that Missions apprise host governments of the situation, with a view to arranging for instructions from capitals. Missions should do everything possible to assist USDEL if they receive such a request. Until such a call is received, however, Missions should take no action on this issue; USDEL will be interacting directly with host-country expert delegations in Geneva, and premature contacts/demarches with host country government officials in capitals, even to preview the background of the situation, could be highly counter-productive. Point of Contact for USDEL is OES/EGC, XXXXXXXXXXXX.

4. (C) Background. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ( is a highly influential body established by the World Meteological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to assess scientific issues related to climate change. This year, the U.S. has nominated Stanford Professor Christopher Field to the developed-country chair of IPCC Working Group Two, which assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change and the options for adaptation. His nomination is unopposed. Iran, however, has nominated Dr. Mostafa Jafari to be the developing-country co-chair of the same working group. Jafari is a highly-qualified scientist with research ties to the UK and Japan, but he is also a senior Iranian government employee who has represented Iran in international negotiations. Co-chair appointments are for a minimum of four years, and require close collaboration and often travel to or extended residencies in each others, countries. Having U.S. and Iranian co-chairs would be problematic and potentially at odds with overall U.S. policy towards Iran, and would significantly complicate the U.S. commitment to funding the Working Group Two secretariat. U.S. withdrawal of its nominee, however, would effectively give Iran a veto over future U.S. nominees in UN bodies. Moreover, having a U.S. co-chair at the IPCC significantly bolsters U.S. interests on climate change, a key foreign policy issue.

5. (C) Background continued. Prior to arrival in Geneva, USDEL contacted IPCC Chairman Dr. Rajendra Pachauri (please protect), who agreed to work on this issue to avoid the potential for disruption to one the organization,s three core working groups XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. Next, USDEL contacted the Austrian delegate serving as EU representative on the nominating committee that manages the election process, who showed an understanding of U.S. equities. USDEL contacted the Malian and Argentinean delegations, who have nominated highly-qualified co-chair candidates (see below), and the German delegation, who have been interested in advancing the Malian for co-chair of Working Group Three, for which Germany has nominated an unopposed candidate as developed-country co-chair. The Malians subsequently told USDEL that their candidate, Dr. Yauba Sokona, prefers Working Group Two to Working Group Three. Also prior to arrival in Geneva, USDEL contacted the UK and Netherlands delegations, both of which we have worked closely with in the past. Based on experience at prior IPCC plenaries, events related to the Working Group elections will likely unfold unpredictably and rapidly, necessitating a rapid and flexible USG response.


The outcome for the USA was better than even they could have hoped for: the election of an Argentinian scientist, providing further scientific representation for the views of economically rich nations.

Note: EnviroLeaks does not seek to always be ahead of the news when it comes to Cablegate releases – this one was released back in December – what is important is that the ramifications of the cables are correctly identified, something the mainstream media consistently fails to do.

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