The Saudi approach to scientific integrity: Don’t talk about science
10 May 2018
Until this week, ECO thought there were a few things we could all agree on (and have in fact agreed on in previous decisions): Parties should pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The UNFCCC process is based on best available science and has always benefited from scientific input. That is why the IPCC has been invited to prepare a Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. Current ambitions are insufficient to limit warming to 1.5°C, which is why we are looking for solutions through the Talanoa Dialogue. And because scientific input is so valuable, Parties have welcomed with appreciation the dedicated space within the Talanoa Dialogue to discuss the implications of the Special Report. Everyone can agree on that, right? Apparently, everyone but Saudi Arabia.
ECO was shocked to see Saudi Arabia trying to roll back previous decisions and undermine the scientific base of the UNFCCC process. The Saudi delegation tried to block any reference to the IPCC and the Special Report on 1.5°C in the SBSTA conclusions on research and systematic observation. Remarkably, they argued that simply acknowledging that the IPCC is working on this report and that it would be useful input, would put undue pressure on the scientists. It would show more appreciation for science, they argued, to simply delete the whole paragraph. Can you see any logic in that? ECO can’t.
ECO notes that the process for the preparation of this report follows strict procedural rules that are applied to all IPCC reports, and, having heard no complaints from the scientists involved, we don’t understand where the argument of undue pressure comes from.
Input from the IPCC is crucial for a serious conversation about ambition. The scientists are working diligently to finalize their report by October. The UNFCCC and the IPCC are working to ensure that the IPCC can present the special report to Parties in time for the final stretch of the Talanoa Dialogue. ECO expects all Parties to support the scientists’ work and ensure that the report gets adopted and released on time. That’s how you show appreciation for science.