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What is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?

What is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, otherwise known as the IPCC – and why and how do they report climate change?
Green News
2023-08-04T00:00:00.000Z
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If you've read one of our many IPCC Chapter Reports, you may very well be wondering what the IPCC, or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – is in the first place.

👉 What is the IPCC, and how do they help in the fight against climate change?

What is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, otherwise known as the IPCC – serves as the United Nations' vessel for evaluating new science that pertains to climate change. The IPCC is an independent entity formulated by the guidance of the world meteorological organization.

The IPCC seeks to publish assessment reports to help others monitor and determine how science can impact climate change through continuous reports written through the help of a wide-array of experts and authors.

Each individual IPCC report zones in on a different topic of climate change: such as urbanization, national greenhouse gas inventories, scientific and technical aspects, how business risks can impact climate change, how reconstruction pathways can be used to foreshadow natural disasters provoked by climate change, or how weather patterns can be monitored

Overall, one of the main goals of the IPCC and the IPCC data distribution centre is to offer a wide range of reports that pertain to subjects regarding climate change in order to provide a detailed, comprehensive report that can ultimately help people understand how and why climate change occurs – and what could be done to prevent climate change from continuing. 

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Why was the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) created?

The IPCC was first established back in 1988 by the WMO, or the World Meteorology Organization, as well as the UNEP – or the United Nations Environment Programme. 

👉 The IPCC was established in order to help lawmakers implement the appropriate measures to mitigate climate change with new scientific findings in mind.

In other words, the IPCC provides anyone with legislative power the latest science regarding climate change so that those with governmental jurisdiction have all of the up-to-date information necessary to establish the most effective measures to prevent further climate change possible. 

How does the IPCC accomplish their goal of helping those in governmental positions of authority make the right decisions regarding climate change? 

How does the IPCC work to achieve their goals?

The IPCC helps lawmakers establish the appropriate climate change measures by providing streamlined assessments regarding climate change from a scientific point of view. These are more commonly known as IPCC reports.

These reports often provide information not only on the future of climate change delineated through scientific evidence, but potential risks and negative impacts, and ideas on how those risks and negative impacts can be avoided through adaptation and mitigation measures. 

The reports written by the IPCC can also aid in conjoint international climate change efforts, as the IPCC is composed of members of the United Nations and WMO – totalling 195 members.

Examples of a successful assessment report published by the IPCC include their first assessment report which delineated information on climate change as a whole from credible sources, their fifth assessment report which explained the science behind climate change, and their sixth assessment report which explained climate change according to different regions of the world. Previous report by the IPCC can be viewed online, and it is probable that a previous IPCC report includes extreme weather events, economic and social dimensions, and break-down scientific technical analyses.

However, the whopping amount of government officials part of the IPCC is not the IPCC's most impressive or valuable asset – but how thousands from across the globe contribute to the overarching goals of the IPCC. IPCC reports are drafted thanks to the scientific information provided by experts who offer their time to IPCC authors.

These experts are not required nor are they expected to offer their time to these reports, but these volunteers are the reason that thousands of scientific papers can be published by the IPCC every year to help provide people around the world with an all-inclusive report on the root causes of climate change – as well as the potential measures a nation could take to prevent them in the future.

The reports provided by the IPCC offer objective and exhaustive evaluations that can help lawmakers implement the right policies through a wide array of perspectives. Basically, the reports provided by the IPCC are composed with the help of such a heterogeneous mix of experts – so that the information cannot be biased in any way, shape, or form.

Every possible scenario is explained without favoritism towards any specific scenario.

It is important to note that the IPCC doesn't conduct their own research, and therefore – the IPCC reports would not be possible without the help of the experts who volunteer to create them and the other various working group contributions.

With these reports, the IPCC can help determine if more research towards an individual topic is needed, while still providing government officials with the current information necessary to help them establish the appropriate measures to mitigate climate change. 

Ultimately, the goal of the IPCC is to delineate all the new scientific information to government officials so that they can create the most appropriate climate change policies concerning their region and current environmental impact.

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How does the IPCC draft their reports to address climate change?

Just as the IPCC reports are crafted methodically with diversity in mind, so is the process, start to finish – from drafting, to publishing the IPCC reports themselves.

The IPCC is split into three different groups, called Working Groups, and an additional Task Force.

The first working group, called Working Group I, evaluates the science that pertains to climate change, the second group, called Working Group II, works to draft the potential negative impacts of climate change and the adaptation measures that can be taken to prevent them, and the third working group, Working Group III, deals with the potential methods to mitigate further climate change. 

On the other hand, the main goal of the IPCC's Task Force is to create and rectify a plan to calculate and delineate how many greenhouse gas emissions have been removed at a national level.

In addition to the IPCC Working Groups or Task Force, the IPCC will sometimes implement another task group to help provide additional expertise on a specific subject in order to ensure accuracy.

IPCC is also dedicated to a careful selection of their authors for their reports. The IPCC aims to find authors that can convey a wide array of scientific findings whilst still being able to draw upon technical and socio-economic factors throughout the report.

The IPCC seeks a diverse spectrum of authors in order to provide government officials with a varied assessment that pertains to the effects of climate change in multiple regions and countries. This is done so that every part of the world is accounted for, and so that no IPCC report is written subjectively. 

The IPCC doesn't only value diversity in their reports, but also amongst their team of authors. The IPCC aims to create a team of authors that is equally composed of both men and women, as well as up-and-coming scientists.

The IPCC strives to include authors that range from industry experts to writers who have expertise in non-profit organizations. As long as the author can bring something valuable to the table, the IPCC is welcome to include them in their reports.

The International Panel on Climate Change has clearly established a meticulous and fair process for seeking the expertise necessary to draft their IPCC reports, but have their careful efforts elicited any global or national improvements in terms of climate change? How has the last IPCC report made a difference?

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What did the last IPCC report say about climate change?

The most recent IPCC report, published three months before the most recent Conference of Parties, otherwise known as COP26 in Glasgow – the IPCC depicted in their report through newfound scientific evidence how human activity is the biggest obstacle in reducing global emissions.

The report also illustrated five potential scenarios to illustrate the catastrophic consequences if no measures to mitigate climate change are taken immediately. ⚠️

For instance, the worst scenario, referred to as the high-carbon pathway – means that the global surface temperature would reach a whopping 4ºC before the end of the century. In order to mitigate this and avoid the deleterious effects of global warming, such as heat waves, humans would have to drastically reduce their use of fossil fuels and seriously employ the use of renewable energy sources wherever possible. 

However, not even the use of renewable energy may be enough to reverse the damage that's already been done. This irreversible damage due to human activity may soon have permanent effects on two key areas that play a role in climate change: rising sea levels and dying forests.

According to the 2022 IPCC report, deforestation could stop forests from growing all together – meaning that the world will no longer have as many trees able to absorb the excess carbon dioxide emissions humans are producing at an unprecedented rate.

In addition, human activity will continue to elicit the melting of ice caps and in turn – provoke rising sea levels that could result in the drawing of cities like Amsterdam and Miami. If these cities are to plummet, urbanization will take place all over again – creating even more emissions. 

The latest IPCC report has illustrated how human activity is the main reason why we aren't succeeding in reducing emissions and saving the planet, so what can the IPCC really do to aid in the fight against climate change?

Can the IPCC help to reduce climate change?

There's an infamous saying that should never be forgotten, as it depicts almost any real-life scenario – ”the teacher can show you the door, but you have to walk through it.” That is essentially the extent of what the IPCC can do.

In fact, the IPCC is even more valuable than a teacher – the IPCC is like having a room full of professors with various expertise and knowledge to draw from. Still, you can acquire all of the information necessary to succeed on an exam – but at the end of the day, it's up to the student to memorise the material and apply it to whichever situation necessary. The same concept applies to the IPCC chapters.

The reports provided by the IPCC are chalk-full of information that can help nations and government officials adapt and mitigate climate to the best of their ability, but the IPCC cannot force anyone or any nation to implement those measures aimed to reduce emissions, establish sustainability, or fight against climate change.

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It is up to each individual nation and government official to take responsibility for the actions necessary to play their part in the global fight to achieve net-zero emissions and reduce the negative effects of rising global temperatures. 

While it's difficult to measure if the IPCC has had a direct impact on new climate legislation, the good news is that new laws regarding climate change are becoming the norm.

The U.S. recently passed a revolutionary climate action bill and California has recently implemented several new measures to curb carbon emissions in the state.

Action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been implemented across the pond, too – with the United Kingdom passing their Ten Point Plan and their Hydrogen Strategy to help reach their environmental goals. 

The IPCC may not play a direct role in the development of legislation aimed to mitigate climate change, but it helps a student achieve what they can't without a teacher – the IPCC can show everyone the doors.

IPCC reports will continue to serve as a viable resource for any nation seeking to reduce their emissions and tackle climate change once and for all. 

What about Greenly?

If reading this article about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, otherwise known as IPCC, has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Click here to learn more about Greenly and how we can help you reduce your carbon footprint.

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