IPCC: Who are they? Why are they important?

End is near. This time the sky is really falling.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. In the same year, the UN General Assembly endorsed the action by WMO and UNEP in jointly establishing the IPCC.

The IPCC is a scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations (UN). It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters.

Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC on a voluntary basis. Review is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment of current information. IPCC aims to reflect a range of views and expertise. The Secretariat coordinates all the IPCC work and liaises with Governments. It is supported by WMO and UNEP and hosted at WMO headquarters in Geneva.

The IPCC is an intergovernmental body. It is open to all member countries of the United Nations (UN) and WMO. Currently 195 countries are members of the IPCC. Governments participate in the review process and the plenary Sessions, where main decisions about the IPCC work programme are taken and reports are accepted, adopted and approved. The IPCC Bureau Members, including the Chair, are also elected during the plenary Sessions.

Because of its scientific and intergovernmental nature, the IPCC embodies a unique opportunity to provide rigorous and balanced scientific information to decision makers. By endorsing the IPCC reports, governments acknowledge the authority of their scientific content. The work of the organization is therefore policy-relevant and yet policy-neutral, never policy-prescriptive.

The principles that the IPCC operates under are set out in the relevant WMO Executive Council and UNEP Governing Council resolutions and decisions, as well as on actions in support of the UNFCCC process.

The aims of the IPCC are to assess scientific information relevant to:

  1. Human-induced climate change,
  2. The impacts of human-induced climate change,
  3. Options for adaptation and mitigation.

The fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) said that most of the warming that has taken place since the middle of the last century is very likely the result of increase in the concentration of human-induced greenhouse gases.  They are important for:

  • Harnessing technology to employ systems which can efficiently predict monsoon, early warning system to prevent huge losses of life during a disaster.
  • Formulating a National Action Plan.
  • Implementation and regular assessment.
  • Ascertaining the post disaster effects which are generally not counted in monetary terms as well as social terms.
  • Encourage the people to emit less and to plant more and all that.
  • Formulating the new policies like Carbon Trading, whose target is to ultimately bring down the concentration of GHG (green house gases) irrespective of the nations.

The IPCC is currently organized in 3 Working Groups and a Task Force. They are assisted by Technical Support Units (TSUs), which are hosted and financially supported by the government of the developed country Co-Chair of that Working Group/Task Force. A TSU has also been established to support the IPCC Chair in preparing the Synthesis Report for an assessment report.

Working Group I deals with “The Physical Science Basis of Climate Change”, Working Group II with “Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” and Working Group III with “Mitigation of Climate Change”. Working Groups meet in Plenary session at the level of government representatives. The main objective of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories is to develop and refine a methodology for the calculation and reporting of national greenhouse gas emissions and removals.Besides the Working Groups and Task Force, further Task Groups and Steering Groups may be established for a limited or longer duration to consider a specific topic or question. One example is the Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA).

It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. It merely assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It is an important governing body participating actively in making policies for maintaing the climate on the Earth.




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