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The ZOD FILES: Climate documents from 2007 'must stay SECRET'

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The UK's Met Office has refused to release historic climate discussions dating from before 2007, even though such scientific discussions are required to be “open and transparent”.

David Holland, the man whose FoI requests - refused by the Met Office - triggered the Climategate scandal, wants to see what scientists are discuss at an early, important stage of the IPCC process - called the "Zero Order Draft" stage. Subsequent stages One and Two involve NGOs and government officials, so the ZOD stage - the only part of the process which doesn’t have bureaucrats in the room – is an important one.

In an information tribunal held in May, Holland pointed out that much of the ZOD material is already on the web. He argued that the UK, as a signatory to the UN’s Aarhus convention, should allow these discussions to be made available to the people who pay for them.

The Met Office, standing in because Whitehall wouldn’t release the UK government’s liaison officer to the IPCC, argued that the release of the information would damage “international relations”. Climate scientists in other countries would shun our own.

In July, Holland’s request to see the seven ZOD drafts of the current AR5 IPCC (WG1) report was declined, the three-Judge panel of commissioners having found the weight of the “international relations” argument persuasive. [Ruling: PDF] But they pointed out that they only agreed because the final report hadn’t been published. If Holland had waited, they suggested, the Met should have released the drafts.

So Holland asked for historical ZODs instead – relating to the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report. But the Met Office is blocking those, too. You can read the logic behind the refusal here.

Holland has 28 days to appeal. ®

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