1997 GCC “Highlights From the 1995 Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”

This Global Climate Coalition (GCC) document excerpted quotations from the the IPCC’s Second Assessment Report (SAR). Collected by climate-specific subject headings, the document used SAR findings to increase doubt surrounding climate change. The industry-funded GCC opposed greenhouse gas regulations through direct engagement and collaboration with affiliated climate deniers from 1989 to 2002. Its membership spanned across the automotive, utility, manufacturing, petroleum, and mining industries.

The GCC highlighted SAR quotes that touched on scientific uncertainty in contrast to findings from the same report that detailed CO2 as “the most important contributor to anthropogenic forcing of climate change” and sea level rise and global mean temperature increase as proof of society’s contributions to some of the “irreversible” impacts of climate change. According to the GCC’s document, however, the IPCC’s SAR was edited to the point that “the alterations diminish the high level of uncertainty expressed in the original text.”

The extent to which SAR quotes were de-contextualized and intentionally misconstrued is exemplified in the “Sea Level Rise & The Hydrological Cycle” section; the document used the SAR to argue for the benefits of increased CO2 emissions quoting, “elevated CO2 levels may enable plants to use water and nutrients more efficiently.” However, the GCC document omitted the conclusion of the sentence as written in the SAR: “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).A similar document appeared in an internal April 1996 GCC Science and Technology Assessment Committee meeting. That document included a note explaining how the use of IPCC quotes legitimized the GCC’s 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.”

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

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