Dutch government party accuses weather service of bias

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A member of the conservative VVD party, the senior partner in the two-party coalition government, has accused the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) of being biased on the subject of climate change. As a result it is discussing drastic changes for the weather office - possibly slashing its subsidy of 60 million euro.

VVD MP René Leegte says the KNMI is too influenced by the research conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Mr Leegte will submit a motion in parliament today, calling on Deputy Environment Minister Joop Atsma to privatise the institute. The MP said the subject of privatisation had been broached before, but he would like to put the idea into action.

“Climate alarmists”
Mr Leegte has called the IPCC “climate alarmists” and rebuked the Dutch weather office for accepting its conclusions on carbon emissions and rising global temperatures so readily, while other research has produced different findings. The conservative MP says 20 percent of KNMI scientists are biased when it comes to the research.

Established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the IPCC is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change.

Undisputedly objective
Reacting to Mr Leegte’s criticism, KNMI spokesperson Cees Molenaars said the institute and the government were negotiating about its future role. “Mr Atsma has a concrete action plan for the KNMI, which he will probably present to parliament after the summer recess,” he said, “but the objective stance of our meteorological office is undisputed.”

An independent review committee recently concluded that KNMI is impartial in its approach, in compliance with the integrity guidelines of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the WMO, argued Mr Molenaars.

Hard evidence
Labour Party MP Diederik Samson has said the VVD should not make damaging accusations unless it has  hard proof that the KNMI is biased. If the VVD’s accusations are groundless, then they should be withdrawn, Mr Samson said. “The air around these allegations has to be cleared.”

(jn/tf/imm)

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