THE UN climate change panel has admitted to having * "imprecisely stated" in a key report that 55 per cent of The Netherlands is under sea level, saying that is only the area at risk of flooding.
The Dutch Government this month asked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to explain the figure, used in a landmark 2007 report, saying its numbers were that only 26 per cent of the country is below sea level.
It was a new embarrassment for the panel. The same 938-page Fourth Assessment Report also contained an erroneous claim that global warming could melt Himalayan glaciers by 2035.
The IPCC admitted in a note sent to AFP yesterday that the 55 per cent figure was actually the portion of The Netherlands "at risk of being flooded". It insisted that the imprecision did not affect the conclusions of the report.
The figure had been used in various publications to mean "either the area below the highest sea-level reached during storms, ore total area of the country that is prone to flooding from the sea and rivers", the note said.
"Therefore, a preliminary analysis suggests that the sentence discussed should end with: 'because 55 per cent of The Netherlands is at risk of flooding'."
The panel said the figure had been supplied by a Dutch government agency.
Dutch environment ministry spokesman Trimo Vallaart said on February 5 that the figure used by the IPCC included the area below sea level- 26 per cent -- and the area threatened by river flooding - 29 per cent.
The error about Himalayan glaciers - which is being withdrawn - spurred fierce criticism of the IPCC with the controversy has giving fresh ammunition to climate sceptics.
* Politically correctspeak for "a big fat lie".