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January 24, 2011 

GOP Efforts to Defund Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is Foolhardy

WASHINGTON (January 24, 2011) – The Republican Study Committee last week released a list of proposed budget cuts totaling $2.5 trillion, including a recommendation to withdraw U.S. funding from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the proposal points to a disturbing level of climate denial in Congress and it is not clear that the Study Committee is accurately projecting U.S. contributions to the IPCC.

“It’s bad enough that some of these policymakers have chosen to put on blinders when it comes to climate science and protecting Americans from climate change,” said Lexi Shultz, UCS’s Climate and Energy Legislative Director. “Now they’re trying to cut funding from a distinguished panel that sheds light on these issues for the entire world. The IPCC gives us a lot of bang for our buck and it would be a mistake to withdraw funding.”

The document released by the Republican Study Committee assumes the United States spends $12.5 million annually on the IPCC. However, according to the IPCC, its total projected budget for 2011 is less than $10 million (see Table 9). Since the IPCC’s inception, U.S. funding has fluctuated between about $200,000 and $5.6 million depending on the year (see Table 2). (Note that IPCC figures are in Swiss francs. One Swiss franc is currently worth about one U.S. dollar)

In any case, IPCC funding is money well spent, according to UCS and it mostly covers logistical costs for putting together reports. The thousands of scientists from around the world who work on the IPCC receive no direct compensation for their considerable time and effort drafting, reviewing and editing IPCC documents. The IPCC itself does not do original research nor does it prescribe policies. Instead, it synthesizes available science on climate change to help the public and policymakers make sense of the evolving science.

“It’s sad that members of Congress who refuse to recognize scientific reality continue to obstruct efforts to reduce global warming emissions and go after the IPCC. Many U.S. scientists contribute to the IPCC’s efforts and they represent some of our nation’s best minds,” Shultz said. “At the very least, the public deserves to know just how serious the risks of climate change are and not be misled by politicians who continue to block progress on clean energy.”

 

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

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