COPENHAGEN — The head of the Nobel-winning UN panel of climate scientists warned on Saturday that failure at the Copenhagen talks on tackling global warming would deal a heavy blow to the nation-state system.
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told reporters in response to question that the talks were "an important test" of whether nations could join together to fight a common threat.
"There's no question about it," he said.
"I think if we are able to get a good agreement, this would clearly create an enormous amount of confidence in the ability of human society to be able to act on a multilateral basis.
"If we fail, I don't think everything is lost, but certainly it will be a major setback."
Pachauri was speaking after a press conference where he spelt out the main findings of the IPCC's 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, which spurred political action leading up to the Copenhagen conference.
The study found for the first time that evidence for man-made warning was "unequivocal."
The impacts were already visible, indicated especially by glacier shrinkage, disruption to snowfall and rainfall patterns and changes to the timing of seasons.
Responding to the so-called Climategate affair, in which the IPCC's neutrality was attacked after the leak of emails from among some of its scientists, Pachauri said the panel had a top-class peer review system for assessing data for fairness and objectivity.
"This is a very robust process and it has stood the test of time," he said.
More than 1,200 scientists were involved in the exhaustive process, which was also vetted and approved by the world's governments, he noted.
"These are clearly the most outstanding scientists and with the highest level of expertise," said Pachauri.
Efforts by climate sceptics to exploit the hacked emails had had "absolutely no impact" on the December 7-18 talks, Pachauri added.
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