Climate scientists at the centre of the row over stolen e-mails
acted with integrity and made no attempt to manipulate their research on
global temperatures, an external inquiry has found.
Their research was, however, misrepresented by the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change, which failed to reflect uncertainties the
scientists had reported concerning the raw temperature data.
An inquiry panel of leading scientists, nominated by the Royal
Society, said that the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research
Unit may not have used the best methods for analysing temperature
The unit had also failed to store all its data and keep full records
of exactly what it had done, preventing other scientists from checking
all its findings.
But after interviewing the unit's scientists and studying 11 of
their reports, the panel concluded: "We found them to be objective and
dispassionate in their view of the data and their results, and there was
no hint of tailoring results to a particular agenda.
"Their sole aim was to establish as robust a record of temperatures
in recent centuries as possible."
Professor Phil Jones has stood down from his post as director of the
unit while investigations take place into issues raised by a thousand
e-mails he sent or received.
A separate inquiry, chaired by Sir Muir Russell, is continuing into
the contents of the e-mails and apparent attempts by Professor Jones to
His research underpins the claim made by the IPCC that it is highly
likely that rising temperatures since the mid-20th century have been
caused by human activities.
The panel was not asked to consider whether the unit's findings were
correct but to judge whether the scientists had conducted their
research in an honest and robust manner.
The panel said it was "regrettable" that the IPCC, in its advice to
governments on climate change, had failed to reflect uncertainties that
had been clearly stated in the unit's reports.
"Recent public discussion of climate change and summaries and
popularisations of the work of CRU and others often contain
oversimplifications that omit serious discussion of uncertainties
emphasized by the original authors.
"For example, CRU publications repeatedly emphasise the discrepancy
between instrumental and tree-based proxy reconstructions of temperature
during the late 20th century, but presentations of this work by the
IPCC and others have sometimes neglected to highlight this issue."
The panel also criticised the Government for "impeding the flow of
processed and raw data to and between researchers" by adopting a policy
of charging for access to environmental data collected by publicly
"This is unfortunate and seems inconsistent with policies of open
access to data promoted elsewhere in government."
The panel said the unit's findings would have been more robust if
they had worked with experts on interpreting statistics.
However, the panel reserved its strongest criticism for the climate
sceptics who had accused the unit of manipulating its findings.
It said the attacks on the unit's work had been "selective and
It added: "Although we deplore the tone of much of the criticism
that has been directed at CRU, we believe that this questioning of the
methods and data used... will ultimately have a beneficial effect and
improve working practices."
The panel, whose members were appointed by the university on the
recommendation of the Royal Society, has been accused of lacking
Lord Oxburgh, the panel's chairman, has links to low-carbon energy
companies that stand to profit from efforts to cut greenhouse gases.
He is chairman of wind energy firm Falck Renewables and president of
the Carbon Capture and Storage Association.
Edward Acton, vice chancellor of UEA, described the panel's report
as "hugely positive".
He said: "UEA has already put on record its deep regret and anger
that the theft of e-mails from the University, and the blatant
misrepresentation of their contents as revealed both in this report and
the previous one by the Science and Technology Select Committee, damaged
the reputation of UK climate science.
"We would like to express our gratitude to Lord Oxburgh and his
selfless group of scientists for producing this important report."
The university accepted the criticisms of the unit's statistical
techniques and data storage and said these issues would be rectified.