Independent Summary for Policymakers
of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (Working Group I)

Download the Independent Summary for Policymakers

See below for information on the rationale, the expert review process and rumours versus reality.

Coordinator: Ross McKitrick, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Economics, University of Guelph and Senior Fellow, Fraser Institute, Vancouver BC
Writing Team: Joseph D'Aleo, M.Sc. Chief Meteorologist (Ret’d) WSI Corporation. Past Chairman, American Meteorological Society Committee on Weather Analysis and Forecasting. Member, American Meteorological Society Council. Fellow, American Meteorological Society. Certified Consulting Meteorologist.
Madhav Khandekar, Ph.D. Research Scientist (ret’d), Environment Canada. Editor, Climate Research 2003-2005. Member, Editorial Board, Natural Hazards since 1999. Previously, WMO Lecturer in Meteorology, Barbados (West Indies); International Civil Aviation Organization Expert in Aeronautical Meteorology, Qatar.
William Kininmonth, M.Sc., M.Admin. Head (ret'd) National Climate Centre, Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Previously: Consultant to the World Meteorological Organization Commission for Climatology; Scientific and Technical Review Coordinator, United Nations Task Force on El Nino.
Christopher Essex, Ph.D. Professor of Applied Mathematics, University of Western Ontario, and Director, Program in Theoretical Physics. Formerly, NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow, Canadian Climate Centre.
Wibjörn Karlén, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Sweden
Olavi Kärner, Ph.D. Senior Research Associate, Atmospheric Sensing Group, Tartu Astrophysical Observatory, Tõravere, Estonia.
Ian Clark, Ph.D. Professor of Arctic Paleohydrology and Geology, University of Ottawa.
Tad Murty, Ph.D. Adjunct Professor, Departments of Earth Sciences and Civil Engineering, University of Ottawa; Editor, Natural Hazards; Associate Editor Marine Geodesy; Leader, World Meteorological Organization group to prepare a manual on storm surges from hurricanes and extra-tropical cyclones. Formerly: Senior Research Scientist, Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans; Professor of Earth Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia; Director of Australia's National Tidal Facility.
James J. O’Brien, Ph.D. Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor, Meteorology & Oceanography and Director Emeritus of the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies, Florida State University. Florida State Climatologist. Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

This page provides information on the Independent Summary for Policymakers (ISPM) of the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report (AR4), recently published by the Fraser Institute. The ISPM is not a critique of or a response to the IPCC Report. It is a detailed summary, written on the premise that a great deal of good, balanced science is presented in the IPCC report and it should be widely disseminated and carefully read. The ISPM includes some 300 direct citations to the IPCC report and provides detailed chapter locations so that readers can look up the IPCC sections for themselves.

In producing this Summary we have worked independently of the IPCC, using the Second Order Draft of the IPCC report, as circulated after revisions were made in response to the first expert review period in the winter and spring of 2006. Section references will be checked against the final IPCC version, to be released in May 2007. If, in preparing the final draft of the Fourth Assessment Report, the IPCC substantially rewrites the Assessment text, such that the key summary materials presented herein need to be re-worded, we will do so and publish an Appendix to that effect.

The ISPM makes reference to a group of technical supplements. They are scheduled for publication at the end of March.
Download the Independent Summary for Policymakers

The IPCC involves numerous experts in the preparation of its reports. However, chapter authors are frequently asked to summarize current controversies and disputes in which they themselves are professionally involved, which invites bias. Related to this is the problem that chapter authors may tend to favor their own published work by presenting it in a prominent or flattering light. Nonetheless the resulting reports tend to be reasonably comprehensive and informative. Some research that contradicts the hypothesis of greenhouse gas-induced warming is under-represented, and some controversies are treated in a one-sided way, but the reports still merit close attention.

A more compelling problem is that the Summary for Policymakers, attached to the IPCC Report, is produced, not by the scientific writers and reviewers, but by a process of negotiation among unnamed bureaucratic delegates from sponsoring governments. Their selection of material need not and may not reflect the priorities and intentions of the scientific community itself. Consequently it is useful to have independent experts read the underlying report and produce a summary of the most pertinent elements of the report.

Finally, while the IPCC enlists many expert reviewers, no indication is given as to whether they disagreed with some or all of the material they reviewed. In previous IPCC reports many expert reviewers have lodged serious objections only to find that, while their objections are ignored, they are acknowledged in the final document, giving the impression that they endorsed the views expressed therein.

The ISPM addresses these concerns as follows.
  • The ISPM was prepared by experts who are fully qualified and experienced in their fields, but who are not themselves IPCC chapter authors, nor are they authors of the IPCC Summary for Policymakers.
  • The ISPM summarizes the most important elements of the science, regardless of whether it is given the same level of focus in the IPCC’s Summary documents. There is no attempt to downplay or re-word uncertainties and limitations in the underlying science, hence the summary paragraphs in the ISPM may not be identical to those of the Summary produced by the IPCC.
  • If a chapter of the Fourth Assessment Report introduces its topic by briefly elaborating on deep uncertainties, then presents results at length as if the uncertainties were not there, the ISPM may devote proportionally more attention to understanding the uncertainties than summarizing all the results, where this is deemed a more pertinent way to characterize the underlying state of knowledge.
  • In a number of places the writing team felt the treatment of a topic was inadequate in the Fourth Assessment Report, or some additional comments were needed for perspective. These are noted in separate sidebars. Also, the Fraser Institute will publish a series of short supplementary papers to provide more detailed critical discussion of some technical subjects. These are noted at various points in the ISPM as well.
  • The ISPM was subject to extensive peer review (see below). Their responses to review questions are tabulated so readers can see to what extent the reviewers agree with the contents of this Summary.
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Reviewers were asked to respond to the following questions on the indicated scale from 1—5. The scores given are based on all 55 reviews received to date.
  1. To what extent does the ISPM cover the range of topics you consider important for policy makers and other general readers who want to understand climate change?
    • 1 (Quite Inadequately)
    • 2 (Somewhat Inadequately)
    • 3 (Neutral)
    • 4 (Adequately) Mean response = 4.2
    • 5 (Quite Adequately)
  2. To what extent do you consider the ISPM to convey the current uncertainties associated with the science of climate change?
    • 1 (Generally overstates the uncertainties)
    • 2 (In some cases overstates the uncertainties)
    • 3 (Is about right) Mean response = 3.3
    • 4 (In some cases understates the uncertainties)
    • 5 (Generally understates the uncertainties)
  3. To what extent to you agree with the Overall Conclusions?
    • 1 (Strongly disagree)
    • 2 (Disagree)
    • 3 (Neutral)
    • 4 (Agree) Mean response = 4.4
    • 5 (Strongly Agree)
  4. Do you support the publication of the ISPM as a means of communicating the current state of climate science to policy makers and other general readers?
    • 1 (No, strongly opposed)
    • 2 (No, somewhat opposed)
    • 3 (Neutral)
    • 4 (Yes, somewhat in support)
    • 5 (Yes, strongly in support) Mean response = 4.7
Alberto Montanari Hydrology University of Bologna Italy
Anastasios Tsonis Mathematics University of Wisconsin USA
Anthony Lupo Climatology University of Missouri USA
Arthur S. deVany Mathematics University of California-Irvine USA
Barrie Jackson Chemical Engineering Queen's University Canada
Bjarne Andersson Thermodynamics Niels Bohr Institute Denmark
Boris Winterhalter Oceanography Geological Survey of Finland Finland
Chris deFreitas Climatology University of Auckland New Zealand
David Deming Paleoclimatology University of Oklahoma USA
David Legates Climatology University of Delaware USA
Demetris Koutsoyiannis Hydrology University of Athens Greece
Dev Niyogi Climatology Purdue University USA
Douglas Hoyt Solar Physics Raytheon Corp. (Retired) USA
Eduardo Zorita Paleoclimatology GKSS Institute of Coastal Research Germany
Einar Sletten Chemistry University of Bergen Norway
Garth Paltridge Atmospheric science University of Tasmania Australia
Gosta Walin Oceanography Goteborg University Sweden
Harry Lins Hydrology United States Geological Survey USA
John Maunder Climatology WMO Commission for Climatology (ret'd) New Zealand
Keith Hage Meteorology University of Alberta Canada
Larry Hulden Biology Finnish Museum of Natural History Finland
Lena Hulden Historical Biology University of Helsinki Finland
Marcel Leroux Climatology University of Lyon France
Nicola Scaffeta Solar Physics Duke University USA
Oddbjorn Engvold Physics University of Oslo Norway
Olav Kvalheim Physical Chemistry University of Bergen Norway
Ole Humlum Physical Geography University of Oslo Norway
Olev Trass Chemical Engineering University of Toronto Canada
Oliver Frauenfeld Meteorology University of Colorado USA
Pat Michaels Climatology Virginia Tech USA
Peter Robinson Meteorology University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill USA
Peter Stilbs Physical Chemistry Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden Sweden
Piia Post Meteorology Univ of Tartu Estonia
Richard Lindzen Climatology Massachusetts Institute of Technology USA
Ramesh Kriplani Meteorology Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology India
Richard McNider Meteorology University of Alabama USA
Robert Balling Climatology Arizona State University USA
Robert Carter Paleoclimatology James Cook University Australia
Robert S. Knox Physics University of Rochester USA
Terence Mills Statistics Loughbourough UK
Thomas N. Chase Meteorology University of Colorado USA
Timothy Patterson Paleoclimatology Carleton University Canada
William Alexander Engineering University of Pretoria South Africa
William Gray Meteorology Colorado State University USA
In addition, 11 reviewers asked to remain anonymous.

Some false rumours have been spread on the Internet regarding the ISPM. For the record:
  • There was NO funding for this project from Exxon or any other fossil fuel company, or from any other industry. No funding was sought by the Fraser Institute for this project. The Fraser Institute does not do contract research, nor does it accept money from governments. It has not received funding from Exxon for any purpose since 2004, when it received a small grant which was not directed to any specific project. The attempt to smear the ISPM project by a false insinuation that the writers and/or reviewers were in the pay of the fossil fuel sector is nothing more than an attempt to discredit the project in the mind of the public, in order to prevent people from reading it.
  • The ISPM is not an attack on the IPCC or a critique of the Fourth Assessment Report. In fact several people involved in the ISPM were themselves contributors or reviewers of the IPCC Report as well. The purpose of the ISPM is to encourage readers to look closely at the IPCC text itself, not simply the Summary released in Paris on February 2, 2007.
  • The Fraser Institute exerted no editorial control over the writing at any stage. The writing team had full discretion and control over the final product. By contrast, the IPCC takes a Summary draft produced by scientists and allows sponsoring governments to re-draft it before its release.
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