1996 Global Climate Coalition Science and Technology “Scientific Uncertainties From the IPCC 2nd Assessment Report” Attachment

This document reflects a report produced for the industry-led Global Climate Coalition’s (GCC) Science and Technology Assessment Committee (STAC) for its April 1996 meeting. This document was submitted during discovery in Green Mtn. Chrysler Plymouth Dodge Jeep v. Crombie and Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep, Inc. v. Witherspoon.

The report was created to refute the IPCC’s Second Assessment Report (SAR). The SAR, highlighting CO2 as “the most important contributor to anthropogenic forcing of climate change,” cited sea level rise and global mean temperature increase as proof of society’s contributions to some of the “irreversible” impacts of climate change. However, quotes from that report, excerpted by GCC’s STAC, were taken out of context to sow doubt about the same hypotheses, particularly the idea of an “enhanced” greenhouse effect. This compilation may not have been meant to stand on its own, but to be utilized as a resource for ‘evidence’ or talking points to be quoted in specific contexts. A similar document was published in 1997 arguing that the final SAR was edited, ‘diminish[ing] the high level of uncertainty expressed in the original text.”

Under different topic subheadings in this document, such as “Uncertainties/Inadequacies in Climate Models” and “Importance of Volcanoes,” the document emphasized quotes from the SAR that questioned the legitimacy of climate change and its impacts. Many quotes were repeated in multiple sections, often contradicting arguments made earlier on. The document included a note explaining how the use of IPCC quotes legitimized their claims: “the ‘Peer Review’ statement helps makes [sic] the case for quoting from the underlying documents, which reflect the end result of a rigorous peer review versus the Summaries for Policymakers which reflect the end result of a government negotiation.

The extent to which SAR quotes were de-contextualized and intentionally misconstrued is exemplified under the heading, “Many forests can adapt to climate change. Human assistance can be beneficial.” In this section, the document quoted the SAR to argue for the benefits of increased CO2 emissions: “elevated CO2 levels may enable plants to use water and nutrients more efficiently.” However, the report omitted the conclusion of the sentence as written in the original report: “Nevertheless, the speed and magnitude of climate change are likely to be too great to avoid some forest decline by the time of a CO2 doubling” (emphasis added) (page 113).

Despite the GCC’s previous claims questioning the reliability of climate models, including in the other documents in this compilation, the SAR critique described modeling as “the most critical step for establishing credibility of impact projections.” It also downplayed the consequences of climate change in such models, assuring that any changes are “projected to occur over time periods that are relatively long in socio-economic terms … [where] it is certain that the economy and society will change, even in the absence of climate change.”

Interested in more GCC documents? See more in the full Global Climate Coalition collection.

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