IPCC MEET: Significance & Impact

CONTEXT: Panel The Intergovernmental on Climate Change, an UN-backed scientific body whose periodic assessments of climate science form the basis of global climate action, is set to finalize what is known as the Synthesis Report.

What is IPCC? The IPCC provides regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

  • The objective of the IPCC is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies.
  • IPCC reports are also a key input into international climate change negotiations. The IPCC is an organization of governments that are members of the United Nations or WMO.
  • The IPCC currently has 195 members. Thousands of people from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC.
  • For the assessment reports, experts volunteer their time as IPCC authors to assess the thousands of scientific papers published each year to provide a comprehensive summary of what is known about the drivers of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and how adaptation and mitigation can reduce those risks.
  • An open and transparent review by experts and governments around the world is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment and to reflect a diverse range of views and expertise.
  • Through its assessments, the IPCC identifies the strength of scientific agreement in different areas and indicates where further research is needed. The IPCC does not conduct its own research.

Sixth assessment cycle:

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is meeting in Switzerland this week to finalize the last report of its sixth assessment cycle, which is expected to set up the tempo for a string of climate change-focused discussions over the next fortnight.
  • The IPCC, a UN-backed scientific body whose periodic assessments of climate science form the basis of global climate action, is set to finalize what is known as the Synthesis Report, incorporating the findings of the five reports that it has released in the sixth assessment cycle since 2018.
  • The Synthesis Report is supposed to be a relatively non-technical summary of the previous reports, aimed largely at policymakers around the world. It is meant to address a wide range of policy-relevant scientific questions related to climate change, but, like all IPCC reports, in a non-prescriptive manner.
  • This will bring an end to the Sixth Assessment Report, a collective work of thousands of scientists over a period of eight years, starting in February 2015.

No surprises:

  • The Synthesis Report is unlikely to reveal anything new. Climate science is fairly well established, and its impacts already visible. As part of the sixth assessment cycle, the IPCC published three comprehensive reports — one on scientific evidence for climate change, the other on impacts and vulnerabilities, and the third exploring mitigation options available. Besides these, special reports on the feasibility of keeping global temperature rise within the 1.5 degree Celsius limit, and the connections between land, ocean and cryosphere, were also released.
  • Together, these form the most comprehensive understanding of the earth’s climate system, the changes it is undergoing, the repercussions of these changes, and the actions that should to be taken to avoid the worst impacts.
  • Whatever was needed to be said about the threat being posed to the planet by climate change has already been said in these reports. And yet, finalization of the Synthesis Report is unlikely to be a straightforward exercise. Apart from the complexity of condensing the voluminous information contained in the earlier reports, authors have to accommodate the concerns of governments and civil society groups. There is likely to be a lot of wrangling over language and the emphasis put on certain phrases, much like the negotiations at the annual climate change conferences every year.

Other Points:

  • The first report of this cycle, the one on 1.5 degree temperature limit, had come out in 2018. In the five years since then, a lot more evidence on the pressing need to stick to the 1.5 degree Celsius target has presented itself. In fact, as measurements by the World Meteorological Organization show, average annual temperatures have already gone above 1.2 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times, and a breach of the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold, even if temporary, is a real possibility in just the next five years.
  • The Synthesis Report, therefore, is expected to emphasize on meeting the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold as the main global goal, unlike the Paris Agreement, that seeks to restrict temperature rise to below 2 degree Celsius.

More meetings:

  • The release of the Synthesis Report on March 20 would be immediately followed by a ministerial-level meeting in Copenhagen. This will discuss ways to implement the decisions taken at last year’s climate meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, especially the one related to creation of a new fund to help countries hit by climate-related disasters. This meeting is aimed at building the atmosphere for more ambitious agreements at this year’s climate conference, scheduled in Dubai towards the end of the year.
  • Later next week, the UN 2023 Water Conference will take place, with climate change as one of the most important agenda. Two G-20 meetings around the climate change theme are also scheduled towards the end of this month, one in Udaipur, Rajasthan, and the other in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
  • The sustained focus on climate change is not surprising. Climate impacts have already begun to hurt population groups. This year’s February in India was the hottest ever, and unusually hot weather continues to prevail in many parts of the country. The situation is similar in several other parts of the world, with extreme weather events becoming the norm. This year is predicted to be among the warmest ever.


  • However, it is in terms of climate action that countries have been found wanting despite repeated predictions of an impending catastrophe. The current level of actions is not even commensurate to the effort required to meet the 2 degree Celsius target. There is disagreement even on something as basic as a commitment to phase out fossil fuels, one of the main contributors to global warming.
  • Recent media reports have suggested that Europe might be getting ready to change that, and push for a global commitment to phase out the use of “unabated” fossil fuels by 2050. But this can very well end up remaining one of the contested discussions at the climate meetings.

Source: Indian Express