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Climate chief dismisses e-mail outrage

By Hilary Whiteman, CNN
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IPCC chairman talks to CNN
  • Climate chief says controversial e-mails were friends, colleagues "letting off steam"
  • Leaked or stolen e-mails allegedly suggest that scientists manipulated climate data
  • Pachauri says "certainly would" use data from East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit
  • Watch "Campbell Brown" tonight at 8 ET in the U.S. for more on global warming

Watch "Trick or Truth?" on "Campbell Brown" tonight at 8 ET for a look into the science, skepticism and secrets surrounding global climate change.

(CNN) -- One of the world's leading authorities on climate change has dismissed the contents of controversial e-mails leaked from the University of East Anglia as nothing more than friends and colleagues "letting off steam."

"Well, I can tell you, privately when I talk to my friends, I use language much worse than that. This was purely private communications between friends, between, colleagues, they were letting off steam. I think we should see it as nothing more than that," Rajendra Pachauri, the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told CNN.

In late November, a substantial file including more than 1,000 e-mails either sent from or to members of the University's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in eastern England were allegedly hacked and leaked on the Internet.

They contained language seized upon by climate skeptics who say they offer evidence that scientists have manipulated climate data to exaggerate the threat of global warming.

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The affair has been covered extensively in the global press under the moniker, "Climategate."

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One e-mail allegedly sent by the head of the CRU, Professor Phil Jones, refers to using "Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years ... to hide the decline."

As one of the world's leading research bodies on climate change, the CRU's research was used in the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report released in 2007, which is considered to be the most authoritative report on climate change to date.

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Pachauri told CNN there was no way that unreliable climate data could have made its way into the IPCC report.

This was purely private communications between friends, between, colleagues, they were letting off steam
--Rajendra Pachauri

"There are so many checks and balances in the processes and procedures that we follow at the IPCC, there is not one iota of possibility that something like this would happen," he said.

He added he would not hesitate in using the unit's information in any future IPCC reports.

"Well why not, if they are qualified in professional terms I certainly would," Pachauri said.

"I don't see any reason why they should be excluded. The fact is that their actions, their contributions have been totally above board. And they've been completely objective in what they've carried out. So I don't have any reason whatsoever to leave them out if there's a requirement and they qualify," he added.

Last week, Jones stepped down from his position as head of the CRU while a review is conducted into claims of data tampering.

The e-mails were released just three weeks before the start of the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen where around 100 heads of state are meeting to agree on a new climate deal.