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Notes for editors
What is the IPCC?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization in 1988 to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies. It has 195 member states.
IPCC assessments provide governments, at all levels, with scientific information they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC assessments are a key input into the international negotiations to tackle climate change. IPCC reports are drafted and reviewed in several stages, thus guaranteeing objectivity and transparency.
The IPCC assesses the thousands of scientific papers published each year to tell policymakers what we know and don’t know about the risks related to climate change. The IPCC identifies where there is agreement in the scientific community, where there are differences of opinion, and where further research is needed. It does not conduct its own research.
To produce its reports, the IPCC mobilizes hundreds of scientists. These scientists and officials are drawn from diverse backgrounds. Only a dozen permanent staff work in the IPCC’s Secretariat.
The IPCC has three working groups: Working Group I, dealing with the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II, dealing with impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III, dealing with the mitigation of climate change. It also has a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories that develops methodologies for measuring emissions and removals.
IPCC Assessment Reports consist of contributions from each of the three working groups and a Synthesis Report. Special Reports undertake an assessment of cross-disciplinary issues that span more than one working group and are shorter and more focused than the main assessments.
Sixth Assessment Cycle
At its 41 st Session in February 2015, the IPCC decided to produce a Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). At its 43rd Session in April 2016, it decided to produce three Special Reports, a Methodology Report and AR6.
The first of these special reports, to be finalized in September 2018, is Global Warming of ºC, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of ºC above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty .
The Methodology Report, entitled 2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories , will be delivered in May 2019.
In September 2019 the IPCC will also finalize two Special Reports: the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate , and Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems .
The IPCC will approve the outlines of AR6 in September 2017. The three working contributions will be released in 2021 and the Synthesis Report in April 2022.
Obviously, climate change is fueled by many sources, and is made such a “wicked problem,” as scientists , analysts and even the World Bank have termed it, by its vast complexity. There is a vast universe of contributors, from fossil fuel companies to consumers, and there’s plenty of blame to go around. The coming tragedies it will inflict don’t begin or end with the likes of Trump, Talbott, Cruz, or McElraft, but they are the ones who are ostensibly responsible for acting in the public interest while discounting the facts that would allow them to do so. The science is too clear about what will happen in the near-term to continue to allow profiteers and ideologues to place the public in danger without consequence. Climate change is killing us right now , as Emily Atkin has noted—and a relatively small pool of negligent technocrats and strivers are preventing us from taking action to waylay it.