Page last updated at 18:18 GMT, Sunday, 31 January 2010

Ed Miliband defends climate change science

Satellite image of Himalayas (SPL)
Scientists admitted they made a mistake in estimating glacier melting

Recent controversies over scientific data have not undermined efforts to tackle global warming, Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband has insisted.

Among the controversies are claims that some leading scientists exaggerated the melting of the Himalayan glaciers.

Mr Miliband told the BBC it would be "profoundly irresponsible" to use one "mistake" as an excuse not to act.

He added it did not "undermine decades of climate research" and the "majority of scientists say that".


Earlier this month, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was forced to admit it had made a mistake in asserting that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.

The incident came shortly before the disclosure that the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia broke Freedom of Information rules in refusing to release research data.

The CRU was already at the centre of a row over a series of leaked e-mails between leading climate scientists, the contents of which led some to suggest that evidence against man-made global warming was being suppressed.

Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband insisted action to tackle climate change must continue

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's The World this Weekend, Mr Miliband acknowledged that recent revelations had been damaging, but said it would be "devastating for future generations" to misinterpret them.

"Yes it was bad a mistake that was made, yes the IPCC needs to reform its procedures... so these kind of mistakes don't happen again.

"But the truth is it doesn't undermine decades of climate research and the overwhelming majority of scientists say that."

He added: "I think science is improved when criticised and improved when opened up. What I think is profoundly irresponsible is to suggest that one fact that was wrong about a glacier undermines the overall picture on climate change."

Mr Miliband spoke as the deadline set at the Copenhagen summit for countries to submit their pledges for reducing greenhouse gas emissions passed.

However, it is understood that nations will continue to make written commitments over the coming days.

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