18 June 1997
UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
SUBSIDIARY BODY FOR SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL ADVICE
Bonn, 28 July - 5 August 1997
Item 5 of the provisional agenda
The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), at its
fourth session, invited Parties to submit comments on the planned structure and
content of the Third Assessment Report (TAR) to the secretariat,
by 30 May 1997 (FCCC/SBSTA/1996/20, para. 25), for compilation into a
The secretariat has received four such submissions. In accordance
with the procedures for miscellaneous documents, these submissions
are attached and reproduced in the language in which they were
received and without formal editing.
Paper No. Page
1. China 3
(Submission received 15 May 1997)
CHINA'S COMMENTS ON THE PLANNED STRUCTURE
AND CONTENT OF THE THIRD ASSESSMENT REPORT
FROM THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL
ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC)
2. Egypt 5
(Submission received 12 June 1997)
COMMENTS ON THE DRAFT DISCUSSION PAPER ON
THE IPCC THIRD ASSESSMENT REPORT
3. Netherlands 6
(on behalf of the European Community and its member States)
(Submission received 2 June 1997)
COMMENTS ON THE PLANNED STRUCTURE
AND CONTENT OF THE THIRD ASSESSMENT REPORT
4. Switzerland 9
(Submission received 4 June 1997)
COMMENTS ON THE THIRD ASSESSMENT REPORT
OF THE IPCC
1. The Third Assessment Report of the IPCC should not simply
follow the structure of the previous assessment reports. It should
focus on new facts and findings which were not included in the last
two reports, particularly on the progress that have been made in
clearing up the uncertainties.
2. In assessing climate change and the impacts of human activities
upon the climate system, the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC
should reflect comprehensively different views and
3. The Third Assessment Report of the IPCC should provide answers
to the questions that are of concern to most developing countries,
such as what adverse effects the policies and measures adopted by the
developed countries may have upon the developing countries, what
policies and steps the developed countries should take for the
transfer of technology to the developing countries and how to achieve
1. No comments on the discussion paper concerning the structure of
the working groups and the Evaluation framework as well as the
contents of the Working group reports.
2. The second option on the Structure of the working groups is agreed. The first
WG I should take care of the Science of Climate Change, while WG
II should encompass Impacts and Adaptation including the social and
economic aspects. WG III should encompass the mitigation options
including social and economic aspects.
3. The proposals concerning the Composition of the Bureau are
4. Concerning Funding for Technical Support Units, there is a
support for Option III that provides for the participation of one
developing country professional to be financed from the IPCC Trust
1. As requested in FCCC/SBSTA/1996/20 para.30 the EU would like to
offer its comments on the planned structure and content of the Third
Assessment Report (TAR) from the IPCC. The EU welcomes the proposals
being put forward by the IPCC to prepare a third full assessment
report on the scientific, technical and economic aspects of climate
change. The EU would reiterate the importance it attaches to the work
of the IPCC. In its view it will be essential for the IPCC to
maintain its scientific credibility, its independence and
impartiality. It welcomes proposals for the future of the IPCC and
the Third Assessment put forward in the chairman-elect's discussion
paper. In particular it welcomes proposals to broaden participation
in the IPCC process by aiming for greater involvement of developing
countries and experts from both the environmental and industrial
2. With regard to the TAR the EU supports a broad review of the
science, impacts adaptation and mitigation strategies, technology
options and socio-economic issues as carried out in the 2nd
Assessment Report. The structure is largely a matter for the IPCC but
the EU would make the following observations: it would support option
II on the structure of the TAR and would encourage an increased focus
on the regional impact of climate and the greater integration of
social economic aspects. It would also wish to see some assessment of
the impact of policies and measures to mitigate and adapt to climate
change as well as the impact of inaction. It would also be useful in
furthering our understanding of global greenhouse gas processes to
compare total emissions from developing and developed countries'
inventories with emissions calculated from global flux
3. The EU would strongly support the preparation, in addition to
the full three volume assessment, of an over-arching report
synthesising the results of the assessment and answering key
questions which are of relevance to the Parties to the Convention and
the future Protocol, and dealing with cross-cutting issues not easily
covered in the working group reports. In preparing a synthesis report
the IPCC should consider working closely with the FCCC secretariat
and invite some policy makers into working groups as
4. With regard to the contents of the synthesis report, the EU
would like the IPCC inter alia to address the following
what further progress has been made in detection and attribution
of climate change, both at a global and regional level.
for a range of non-intervention scenarios for the future of all greenhouse gas emissions and sinks and aerosols, what are the resulting atmospheric concentrations
of greenhouse gases and aerosols, the global and regional climatic
changes and associated impacts.
what policy intervention scenarios for emissions and sinks would
be needed to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at a range of
levels giving particular attention to CO stabilisation between 350
and 750 ppm.
what are the impacts of climate change associated with each of these scenarios and with different stabilisation levels (noting that impacts may take longer to stabilise e.g. sea level rise, ice melt and ecosystem adjustments)?
what possible combination of policies concerning all sources and sinks might be able to achieve stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations at different levels and for different constraints on rates of change.
what are the technological, economic and equity implications of
mitigation and adaptation policies or developed and developing
countries at a regional level, for the intervention as well as for
the non-intervention scenarios?
where possible, identify the risk of "surprises" in particular in
the form of rapid and or irreversible changes to the climate
can thresholds for severe impacts, climate instability etc. be
identified for different greenhouse gas concentrations and rates of
change which might give some insight into consideration of dangerous
levels of greenhouse gas concentrations?
where is there significant interaction between climate change and
other environmental changes and what are the implications for
impacts, policy responses and economic and social costs?
5. The EU recognises that there are a number of very challenging
questions which may not be easily or readily answered from the
scientific and technical literature. To this end, it may be helpful
if the IPCC makes widely known well in advance of the publication of
the TAR those questions which it will be seeking to address, thus
giving the scientists and economists time to consider such focused
questions, carry out and publish research in time for the
6. Throughout the TAR in its presentation of material it would be
helpful if the IPCC could do more to quantify uncertainties. Too
often in the previous reports phrases have been added referring to
uncertainties without providing an indication of the size of the
uncertainties and what they imply. In particular it would be helpful
if the sensitivity of the climate system
to a doubling of CO2 could be revisited. The range has stuck at
1.5C to 4.5C for sometime. The EU would like to see a full
reassessment of this parameter as a ready indicator of the likely
scale of climate change.
7. Regarding the timing of the TAR publication, the chairman elect
has suggested mid-2001, 5 years after publication of the 2nd
Assessment Report. The EU would strongly support this provided the
report is completed by the end of 2000 and if possible
8. Finally the EU would like the Secretariat to convey its best
wishes to the IPCC towards the preparation of the TAR, recognising
that the voluntary efforts of many scientists worldwide will be
called upon to provide the scientific expertise and impartiality for
which IPCC is justifiably noted.
In response to the call at SBSTA 4 for comments concerning the
planed structure and content of the Third Assessment Report (TAR) of
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Switzerland
presents the following views.
1. Objective of the TAR
The objective of the TAR should be to provide to all stakeholders,
including policy makers and the scientific community, an assessment
of the current knowledge on climate change. It should bring elements
allowing to make progress in the determination of the "dangerous
anthropogenic interference with the climate system". It should help
in the process of implementing the Convention.
2. Overall structure of the TAR
The overall structure of the TAR should be analogous to that of
the SAR. It should address the scientific, economic and social
aspects of climate change relevant to the implementation of the
Convention. The division of the TAR in three thematic groups, i.e.
the science of climate change, impacts and adaptation, and
mitigation, seems appropriate. Nevertheless, the IPCC should proceed
to some minor changes in order to overcome limitations and overlaps
of chapters noticed in the SAR.
3. The Synthesis Report
The TAR should comprise a Synthesis Report. This Synthesis Report
should be a "true" synthesis of information contained within the
three Working Groups (WG) reports. It should help all stakeholders to
implement the Convention. The Synthesis Report should be a
"self-generating" process. This means that when writing up summaries
for policy makers, the relevant information for various aspects of
the Convention should be extracted and presented in a short, separate
document. Therefore, the structure and scope of the Synthesis Report
should not be established prior to the initiation of the TAR or
before the three WG reports are finalized.
4. TAR and Technical Reports
Innovative ways of improving the presentation of the TAR should be
found in order to avoid difficulties when disseminating the findings
of the TAR. The fact that the bodies of the Convention have asked for
Technical Reports based on the SAR indicates that there is a need to
present the information in a more userfriendly way.
5. Publication of the TAR
There are two issues related to the dissemination and availability
of the IPCC works : the publication of the documents in all UN
languages', and the dissemination of the findings of the
The translation of the TAR into all UN languages', as well as that
of all "approved/accepted" documents related to TAR which will be
produced by the IPCC, should be assured. The IPCC, the Convention and
the countries should provide financial means for these translations.
In particular, countries should be invited to provide translation
services as contributions in kind for the TAR.
The IPCC, the Convention and the countries should assure a broad
diffusion of the TAR. The documents of the TAR should be made
available to all stakeholders and the findings of the TAR should be
disseminated through seminars, workshops and campaigns of information
assuring a broad public awareness. The Secretariat of the IPCC should
make all IPCC documents available on the Internet in a userfriendly
6. Timing of the TAR
Two aspects are important : the time needed by the authors and
reviewers (peer and governmental) to produce a high quality work, and
the time needed by Governments to understand the TAR and start
implementing its findings.
The key to the success of the TAR will be its quality. This
quality will depend on the time left to authors and reviewers to
complete their work. Therefore, the TAR should not be
approved/accepted before 2001.
Concerning the time needed by Governments to understand and start
implementing the findings of the TAR, what is important is the effort
on the part of the IPCC and other bodies, such as the Information
Unit on Convention from UNEP, to present and to disseminate the
findings of the TAR in a userfriendly way.
7. IPCC Bureau, Secretariat and TSUs
The current composition of its Bureau has allowed the IPCC to
achieve important goals such as the completion of the SAR.
Switzerland considers that a certain continuity in the composition of
the Bureau would assure the quality of the work of the
The Technical Supports Units (TSUs) help the co-chairs of the
Working Groups in accomplishing their task. There should be a good
co-ordination between the IPCC Secretariat and the TSUs. The
Secretariat plays an essential role, assuring the coherence of the
IPCC process. The TSUs should not act separately from the
Secretariat. In the division of labour, they should serve as
ancillary units of secretarial and support nature the work of which
should be embedded in the Secretariat's line of work and not acting
separately from it. Duplication of work between the Secretariat of
the IPCC and the TSUs should be avoided.
Innovative ways of improving the efficiency of both the
Secretariat and the TSUs should be investigated, as e.g. reinforcing
the staff capacity of the Secretariat. We wonder if the latter could
not perform part of the current work of the TSUs in a more efficient
way. It could also be envisaged to share the costs of the TSUs
between two or three Annex I countries. Staff from non-Annex I
countries may be included in the TSUs for capacity building purposes.
In any case the establishment and financing of the TSUs should not
constitute a condition for a country to become eligible as member of
the Bureau of the IPCC.
9. Financial means
Countries should secure financial means to help the scientific
community to take part in the elaboration of the TAR. Individual
investigators should be supported and their scientific independence
should be safeguarded.
Finally, Switzerland would like to thank again the Chairman of the
IPCC, Professor Bert Bolin, and all the scientists who have
contributed during years to assessing the understanding of climate
change. We consider the elaboration of the SAR a major success of the
IPCC. We are confident that the Third Assessment Report will be, at
the time of its completion, the most comprehensive and authoritative
work in the field of climate change. We extend all our good wishes to
the Chairman elect Robert Watson who will have the responsibility to
conduct this challenging task.
1. This submission has been retyped. The secretariat has made every effort to ensure the correct reproduction of the text as submitted.
2. This submission has been retyped. The secretariat has made every effort to ensure the correct reproduction of the text as submitted.