To be short: yes, the KNMI had some criticism towards the IPCC and how they operate. However, it wasn’t the type of criticism the so-called sceptics thought.
What the KNMI did was provide recommendations to the IPCC to improve its procedures. This included recommendations for improving their reports and how results are communicated. Something that the IPCC asked for and the resulting recommendations from the KNMI aren’t shocking.
However, the so-called sceptics seemed to think differently. Marcel Crok, one of the more known Dutch so-called sceptics, wrote an article about it and Anthony Watts published the following snippet from it on WUWT (emphasis added by Crok):
Governments around the world have been asked by IPCC to think about the future of the IPCC. The Netherlands now sent their submission to the IPCC and made it available on the website of KNMI.
I would say Holland is fairly critical about how IPCC is operating right now. This part struck me as most interesting:
The IPCC needs to adjust its principles. We believe that limiting the scope of the IPCC to human induced climate change is undesirable, especially because natural climate change is a crucial part of the total understanding of the climate system, including human-induced climate change. The Netherlands is also of the opinion that the word ‘comprehensive’ may have to be deleted, because producing comprehensive assessments becomes virtually impossible with the ever expanding body of knowledge and IPCC may be more relevant by producing more special reports on topics that are new and controversial.
I agree with both points. The (almost) obsession of IPCC with greenhouse forcing has greatly limited progress in climate science in my opinion, so I am glad my government now raises this point. And in my (Dutch) book De Staat van het Klimaat I concluded that IPCC in AR4 had not succeeded to come up with a “comprehensive” report. I also agree IPCC should pay much more attention to controversial topics. The treatment of controversial topics in AR4 and also AR5 was and is unsatisfactory for two reasons: there is not enough space reserved to go into the necessary details and the author teams are almost always biased in favor of the consensus view and therefore not giving enough credit to minority views.
To summarize: the conclusion Crok seems to be drawing from this recommendation is that the IPCC was ignoring the natural components of climate change in their reports.
He also seems to think that the KNMI is recommending the IPCC to include so-called sceptics of anthropogenic climate change for their reports.
But this doesn’t make any sense. The IPCC does include the natural components of global warming as that’s the only way you can quantize and put into context the human component of climate change.
I already stated this in the comment section of the article the blog Wotts Up With That posted about this interpretation from the so-called sceptics:
Considering I’m Dutch I’ve sent an e-mail to the KNMI asking about that particular passage to get some clarification on their intent by it. But it will take a few days for them to get back to me as their response time is a couple of business days (and it’s currently a Saturday).
Now I also find it odd with how they phrased this, as the IPCC does talk about natural causes of climate change. It might just be that their point is about the IPCC giving human-induced climate change too much focus like Karlsson suggested.
And yes, I did send the KNMI a message asking them what they meant by that particular passage. As a true sceptic doesn’t jump to conclusions but asks first if they have interpreted something correctly.
Yesterday I received the following response to that enquire from Rob van Dorland of the KNMI (translated from Dutch, emphasis and link mine):
In response to your question, I must inform you that the mandate of the IPCC (Principles Governing IPCC Work) states the following:
“2. The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of *risk of human-induced climate change*, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they may need to deal objectively with scientific, technical and socio-economic factors relevant to the application of particular policies.”
So here they only (explicitly) mention the anthropogenic component. We (the Dutch IPCC delegation) believe it is important that the scope of this statement should be widened, namely that natural variability should be explicitly mentioned in the mandate of the IPCC.
In practice, the IPCC reports (WG1 and 2) on climate change mention natural and anthropogenic factors, simply because of the fact that the human factor only gains credence when compared to natural changes.
The proposed change from the Netherlands is that the mandate of the IPCC should be much more in line with what they’ve been doing for years. This also makes clear that the response in the media is not true, namely that the Netherlands find that natural variability is more important than the human influence. As this isn’t the intent of the Dutch submission.
So it’s indeed not about the IPCC ignoring the natural components of climate change; it’s about it not being mentioned in their mandate (the principles document). The response from the KNMI even clearly states that the statements in the media from the so-called sceptics aren’t true
I didn’t ask about the other points made by Crok. But with this response from the KNMI it already is very obvious that Crok didn’t interpret their statements correctly.
For example when the KNMI said the following:
The Netherlands is also of the opinion that the word ‘comprehensive’ may have to be deleted, because producing comprehensive assessments becomes virtually impossible with the ever expanding body of knowledge and IPCC may be more relevant by producing more special reports on topics that are new and controversial.
They are talking about making the reports smaller and more up to date so they can be released quicker. That way we don’t have to wait 7 years before the next report comes out; this is because used research can become outdated. They very clearly state this on page one of their document:
Because of the huge effort needed, new assessments appear with increasing intervals, now seven years; literature must be available a substantial period before the approval of an IPCC report. Parts of the information in the reports are quickly outdated, and this influences users’ perception of value of the entire reports.
This is not about the IPCC reports not being comprehensive, they are. It’s not about the IPCC not including minority views, it’s about them using more recent and thus more controversial research in their reports. The KNMI also recommended the IPCC to make the reports smaller so that they are released more often.
From the start of this whole kerfuffle it was obvious to me that the statements from the KNMI weren’t being interpreted correctly. As anyone who is familiar with how the IPCC works and what is in their reports should know.
But I did something the so-called sceptics didn’t do: ask if my interpretation was correct.
As scepticism doesn’t start with the viewpoints and claims of others. Being a sceptic starts with examining your own viewpoints, the positions you hold, the claims you make, and the quality of the evidence you use for those. If you are not doing that, like what happened surrounding the KNMI statements, you can’t call yourself a true sceptic.
Update 2013-07-26 @ 12:46:
Removed the statement “He also seems to think that the KNMI is recommending the IPCC to include so-called sceptics of anthropogenic climate change for their reports.” as that wasn’t a correct representation of what Crok said.
Update 2013-07-28 @ 17:46:
A follow-up blog post is now available with my take on the responses from Marcel Crok.