A UN panel is to investigate claims that scientists at a British university manipulated global warming data to support a theory of man-made climate change.
The University of East Anglia announced yesterday that an independent review will investigate the key allegations made by climate change ‘sceptics’ that a series of stolen emails showed scientists at its Climatic Research Unit were manipulating data.
Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told BBC Radio 4's The Report programme today that the claims were serious and he wanted them investigated.
‘We will certainly go into the whole lot and then we will take a position on it,’ he said.
Dr Pachauri, who has chaired the panel since 2002, added: ‘We certainly don't want to brush anything under the carpet. This is a serious issue and we will look into it in detail.’
The material was taken from servers at the Climatic Research Unit before being published on websites run by sceptics, possibly in an attempt to undermine next week's global climate summit in Denmark.
The independent review announced by UEA will be headed by distinguished Scottish civil servant and former principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow Sir Muir Russell.
He said: ‘Given the nature of the allegations, it is right that someone who has no links to either the university or the climate science community looks at the evidence and makes recommendations based on what they find.’
Sir Muir's investigation will look at the leaked email exchanges to see if there is any evidence of manipulation or suppression of data which would call into question the research findings of the centre.
The centre's director Professor Phil Jones will stand down while the independent inquiry takes place but said he ‘absolutely’ stood by the science the Climatic Research Unit has produced.
He labelled suggestions of a conspiracy to alter evidence to support a theory of man-made climate change as ‘complete rubbish’.
The review will also look at CRU's policies and practices for acquiring, assembling, reviewing and publishing data and research, and its compliance with the university's rules on freedom of information inquiries.
The investigation will also review and make recommendations on CRU's security and the security, integrity and release of the data it holds, the university said.
The review will be completed by spring next year and its conclusions made public.
Professor Edward Acton, vice-chancellor of the university, said: ‘The reputation and integrity of UEA is of the utmost importance to us all.
‘We want these allegations about CRU to be examined fully and independently’.
There is also a police investigation into the theft of the data, which include more than 1,000 emails sent from or to members of the Climatic Research Unit, while threatening emails sent to Prof Jones in the wake of the leak have been passed to Norfolk Police.
Speaking after an event at the Natural History Museum in London, British Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said: ‘We need maximum transparency including about all the data but it's also very, very important to say one chain of emails, potentially misrepresented, does not undo the global science.
‘I think we want to send a very clear message to people about that.
‘The science is very clear about climate change and people should be in no doubt about that.’
Mr Miliband said he had faith in the university's own investigation and the UN body's inquiry was also welcome.
He added: ‘There will be people that want to use this to try and undermine the science and we're not going to let them.’