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Background

 

 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an independent body founded under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It assesses the scientific literature and provides vital scientific information to the climate change process.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) has repeatedly expressed its appreciation for the IPCC’s work (decisions pdf-icon 6/CP.2, pdf-icon 7/CP.3, pdf-icon 19/CP.5, pdf-icon 25/CP.7, pdf-icon 9/CP.11 and pdf-icon 5/CP.13) and called on the Convention bodies, in particular the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), to continue cooperation with the IPCC and to seek its advice. It has also urged Parties to contribute financially to the IPCC’s work (decisions pdf-icon 19/CP.5 and pdf-icon 25/CP.7), as well as to nominate and support experts for the IPCC, especially from developing countries (decision pdf-icon 25/CP.7).

According to Article 21.2 of the Convention, the secretariat “will cooperate closely with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to ensure that the Panel can respond to the need for objective scientific and technical advice”.

Cooperation with the IPCC has been further defined and strengthened by several COP decisions. In 1995, COP 1 invited the Subsidiary Bodies (SBs), in particular the SBSTA, to submit proposals for future cooperation with the IPCC (decision pdf-icon 6/CP.1). This resulted in a Joint Working Group (JWG) of the SBSTA and the IPCC, established the same year. This informal group meets regularly to ensure coordination and exchange information on the activities of the two bodies. The JWG is composed of the Chairs of the SBSTA and IPCC, other presiding officers of the Convention and IPCC, and members of the secretariats. Meetings usually take place during the sessions of the SBs.

The IPCC is best known for its comprehensive assessment reports, incorporating summaries for policymakers from all three Working Groups, which are widely recognized as the most credible sources of information on climate change. The First Assessment Report in 1990 helped launch negotiations on the Convention. The 1995 Second Assessment Report, in particular its statement that "the balance of evidence suggests … a discernible human influence on global climate", stimulated many governments into intensifying negotiations on what was to become the Kyoto Protocol. The Third Assessment Report, released in 2001, confirmed the findings of the Second Assessment Report, providing new and stronger evidence of a warming world. The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), released in 2007, provided the scientific foundation for the Marrakech Accords. The Fifth Assessment Report, finalized in October 2014, informs the negotiations and policy formulation towards the Paris Agreement.

The IPCC also produces shorter special reports and technical papers on specific issues, a number of them at the request of the COP or the SBSTA. Special reports are produced under the guidance of one or more working groups following the procedures that are used for writing and reviewing the assessment reports. For example, in 2000 the IPCC issued a pdf-icon Special Report on Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry, which served as an input into negotiations on the rules for the LULUCF sector under the Kyoto Protocol. In 2012 the IPCC produced the special report on pdf-icon Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.

Technical papers are based on material that is already in IPCC assessment reports and special reports. For instance, a technical paper on interlinkages between climate change and biodiversity, released in 2002, was prepared at the request of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Through its Task Force on Greenhouse Gas Inventories, the IPCC carries out important work on methodologies for estimating and reporting GHG emissions. The IPCC 2006 Revised Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, for example, are used by all Parties to prepare their annual emission inventories. In addition, the IPCC has developed guidance to help Parties deal with data uncertainties and support the use of good practice in managing emission inventories.

The IPCC frequently organizes workshops and expert meetings to support the assessment process. It may also co-sponsor workshops if they are considered to be a useful contribution to its own activities.