IPCC co-chairman says scientists being intimidated by climate change deniers

Prof Thomas Stocker says campaign to undermine IPCC’s fifth assessment report led by ‘people and organisations with vested interests’

Global warming deniers have been involved in a “concerted campaign to isolate individual scientists and destroy them,” according to one of the co-chairmen of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Prof Thomas Stocker, Swiss-born co-chairman of the panel’s working group on the scientific basis for climate change, said the campaign to undermine its fifth assessment report was led by “people and organisations with vested interests”.

Speaking to The Irish Times prior to giving a public lecture in Dublin, he said claims that there had been no global warming for 15 years were "quite a clever way to divert the attention of policymakers from the broader perspective of climate change".

Prof Stocker said: “It is perfectly legitimate to ask such questions. Normally, you would expect a debate in which arguments would be considered and then we’d come to a conclusion.


“But unfortunately, sceptics have not followed that scientific approach.”

He said scientists involved in the IPCC process had done all the work, showing that warming was being observed “in all parts of the world” and this was closely related to the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, looked at over a longer timeframe than 15 years.

‘Not appreciated’

“It is unfortunate that this worldwide effort by the scientific community, which included responding to 54,677 comments, is not appreciated in the media, where they take assessment like ours and juxtapose it with the views of Mr X or Mr Y,” he said.

Prof Stocker, who has avoided using social media, agreed that several colleagues such as Phil Jones and Michael Mann had been “vilified” on Twitter and other forums, and some of them had even received death threats for daring to speak out.

He said natural variability could explain the current “hiatus”. Thus, IPCC scientists were looking at a longer “climatological period”.

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former environment editor