The 29th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was held from 31 August - 4 September 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland, and was attended by more than 300 participants.
During the meeting, which commemorated the IPCC’s 20th anniversary, the Panel elected the new IPCC Bureau and the Bureau of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFB) and reelected Rajendra Pachauri as the IPCC Chair. The result of Bureau elections left delegates satisfied although some felt frustrated with the lack of clarity in the Rules of Procedure. The Panel also continued its discussions on the future of the IPCC, agreed to create a scholarship for young climate change scientists from developing countries with the funds from the Nobel Prize and asked the Bureau to consider a scoping meeting on disaster risk reduction.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE IPCC
The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Its purpose is to assess scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant to understanding the risks associated with human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. The IPCC does not undertake new research, nor does it monitor climate-related data, but it conducts assessments on the basis of published and peer-reviewed scientific and technical literature.
The IPCC has three Working Groups: Working Group I (WG I) addresses the scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change; Working Group II (WG II) addresses the vulnerability of socioeconomic and natural systems to climate change, impacts of climate change, and adaptation options; and Working Group III (WG III) addresses options for limiting greenhouse gas emissions an d mitigating climate change. Each Working Group has two Co-Chairs and six Vice-Chairs. The Co-Chairs guide the Working Groups to fulfill the mandates given to them by the Panel, and are assisted in this task by Technical Support Units (TSUs).
The IPCC also has a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. The Task Force oversees the IPCC National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme, which aims to develop and refine an internationally-agreed methodology and software for the calculation and reporting of national greenhouse gas emissions and removals, and to encourage the use of this methodology by countries participating in the IPCC and by parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The IPCC Bureau is elected by the Panel for the duration of the preparation of an IPCC assessment report (normally 5-6 years). Its role is to assist the IPCC Chair in planning, coordinating and monitoring the work of the IPCC. The Bureau is composed of climate change experts representing all regions. Currently, the Bureau comprises 30 members: the Chair of the IPCC, the two Co-Chairs of each of the three Working Groups and of the Task Force Bureau (TFB), three IPCC Vice-Chairs, and the Vice-Chairs of the three Working Groups. The IPCC Secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland, and is hosted by the WMO.
IPCC REPORTS: Since its inception, the IPCC has prepared a series of comprehensive assessments, special reports and technical papers subject to extensive review by experts and governments, providing scientific information on climate change to the international community, including policymakers and the public. This information has played an important role in framing national and international policies.
The IPCC has so far completed four comprehensive assessments of climate change, each playing a key role in advancing the negotiations under the UNFCCC: the First Assessment Report was completed in 1990, the Second Assessment Report in 1995, the Third Assessment Report in 2001, and most recently the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), which was completed in 2007.
The AR4 is structured in three volumes, one by each of the three Working Groups, each comprising an underlying assessment report, a Technical Summary and a Summary for Policymakers (SPM). All sections undergo a thorough review process, and the SPM is approved line-by-line by the IPCC. In addition to the three Working Groups’ contributions, the AR4 also includes a Synthesis Report (SYR), highlighting the most relevant aspects of the three Working Group reports, and a SPM of the SYR, also approved line-by-line by the Panel. The SYR Core Writing Team is composed of lead authors and Co-Chairs from all Working Groups. The review process generally takes place in three stages: a first review by experts, a second review by experts and governments, and a third review by governments. Overall, more than 2500 expert reviewers, 800 authors, 450 lead authors, and 130 governments participated in the elaboration of the AR4.
In addition to the comprehensive assessments undertaken, the IPCC produces special reports, methodology reports and technical papers, focusing on specific issues related to climate change. Special reports prepared by the IPCC include: The Regional Impacts of Climate Change: An Assessment of Vulnerability (1997), Aviation and the Global Atmosphere (1999), Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry (2000), Methodological and Technical Issues in Technology Transfer (2000), Safeguarding the Ozone Layer and the Global Climate System (2005), and Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (2005).
Technical papers have been prepared on Climate Change and Water (2008), Climate Change and Biodiversity (2002), and Implications of Proposed CO2 Emissions Limitations (1997), among others.
The IPCC also prepares methodology reports or guidelines to assist countries in reporting on greenhouse gases. The IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories were first released in 1994, and a revised set was completed in 1996. Additional Good Practice Guidance reports were approved by the Panel in 2000 and 2003, and a guide with Definitions and Methodological Options to Inventory Emissions from Direct Human-induced Degradation of Forests and Devegetation of other Vegetation Types in 2003. The latest version, the 2006 IPCC Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, was approved by the Panel in 2006.
For all this work, and its contribution to “build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations that are needed to counteract such change” the IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with Al Gore, in December 2007.
IPCC-28: This session was held from 9-10 April 2008 in Budapest, Hungary, with discussions centering on the future of the IPCC, including key aspects of its Work Programme such as Working Group structure, main type and timing of future reports, and the future structure of the IPCC Bureau and the Bureau of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFB). The IPCC agreed to prepare a Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) and to retain the current structure of its Working Groups. In order to enable significant use of new scenarios in the AR5, the Panel requested the Bureau of the Fifth Assessment cycle to ensure delivery of the Working Group I report by early 2013 and complete the other Working Group reports and the Synthesis Report at the earliest feasible date in 2014. The Panel also agreed to prepare a Special Report on Renewable Energy to be completed by 2010.
CELEBRATION OF THE IPCC’S 20TH ANNIVERSARY
On Sunday afternoon, 31 August 2008, the IPCC gathered at the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices, Geneva, Switzerland, to open the session and commemorate its 20th anniversary. IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri opened the celebration and noted the historic juncture of the anniversary and the accumulated knowledge it represents, as well as the recognition brought by the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He further pointed to the many references made during the 2007 UNFCCC Bali negotiations to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) as indicative of the Panel’s contribution to the international climate policy process. In light of the high expectations placed on the IPCC, he suggested that internal changes may be needed to enable the Panel’s future work at a time of increasing demand for climate knowledge. He thanked the hundreds of writers and reviewers who have contributed their expertise over the years to the IPCC.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, congratulated the IPCC on its 20th anniversary, underscored the importance of IPCC results, and thanked WMO and UNEP for their support. Ban stressed the need to reach a comprehensive, enforceable and ratifiable agreement in Copenhagen in 2009, saying we should learn from the experience of two decades of environmental negotiations, but not be trapped by it. He compared climate negotiations to a jigsaw puzzle, where a final deal is possible only by building towards it in increments, chipping away at small manageable pieces at a time and putting them to rest once that piece of the puzzle is solved. He added that concrete outcomes from negotiations were needed in Poznan, Poland, in December and called on Poland to provide leadership and engage other national leaders.
Moritz Leuenberger, Federal Councillor and Head of the Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication, Switzerland, thanked IPCC Chair Pachauri for his commitment to a better understanding of climate change. Pointing to the considerable time lag between the science warnings of impending dangers to humanity and the response to the challenge by policy makers and the public, he emphasized the importance of the IPCC continuing its work to maintain sobriety in the climate debate, and to disseminate its findings for a broad-scale commitment to the necessary lifestyle changes.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud noted his organization’s pride in the achievements of the Panel. He stressed WMO’s activities to bring attention to human-induced climate change. Jarraud congratulated the IPCC on its AR4 key messages, saying they served as basis for what was agreed in Bali in 2007. Reaffirming the WMO’s continued support for the IPCC he encouraged the Panel to maintain its current form and to concentrate on supporting expertise and capacity development in developing countries that will be most affected by climate variability impacts.
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said bringing the world to the negotiating table on climate change, despite the different countries’ realities, is a testimony to the power of knowledge and the importance of the IPCC process. He noted knowledge and science create an imperative to act and to think about how societies will develop in the future. He underlined questions raised by the economic downturn on whether we can afford to deal with climate change. Steiner said the 21st century will reshape the paradigm of development. He concluded that science and knowledge empower politicians, business, the UN and, particularly, the public, and said the IPCC has handed facts and figures that cannot be ignored by the leadership of the world.
Roberto Acosta, UNFCCC, highlighted the links between climate change impacts, poverty and food supply. He said people of the world need to understand how climate change will affect them if an agreement is not reached in Copenhagen. He outlined the influence of the IPCC on UNFCCC negotiations, and informed on the UNFCCC negotiations in Accra, Ghana, noting a number of proposals that can set the foundations for an agreed text in Copenhagen.
Renate Christ, IPCC Secretary, asked to pay a special tribute to Professor Bert Bolin, former IPCC Chair, and other contributors to the Panel’s work who had passed away.
THE EVOLUTION OF CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE AS REFLECTED IN IPCC REPORTS: Following the opening statements, Ralph Begleiter, University of Delaware, moderated a panel session with several special guests, including James Bruce, former WG II Co-Chair; Osvaldo Canziani, WG II Co-Chair; Ogunlade Davidson, WG III Co-Chair; Yihui Ding, former WG I Co-Chair; John Houghton, former WG I Co-Chair; Yuri Izrael, IPCC Vice-Chair; Hoesung Lee, former WG III Co-Chair; James McCarthy, former WG II Co-Chair; Bert Metz, WG III Co-Chair; Martin Parry, WG II Co-Chair; Dahe Qin, WG I Co-Chair; and Robert Watson, former IPCC Chair. Begleiter noted that the main achievements of the Panel are bringing public attention to climate change issues and fostering advances in climate-related sciences.
John Houghton said that the IPCC over the course of its four assessments had made significant progress in understanding, attribution and projections of climate change and highlighted the key findings of the AR4 WG I report. Robert Watson underlined the advancement in the work of WG II on the understanding of the regional scale and observation of changes. He also noted the findings of AR4 WG II regarding projected impacts by sector and region. Ogunlade Davidson presented the key findings of the WG III AR4 report, including the need for mitigation technologies and interlinkages of climate policies with issues of sustainable development and equity.
In the subsequent discussion, other special guests made remarks on the work and future of the Panel. Dahe Qin said that greater attention should be paid to issues of sea level rise and that participation of developing country scientists should be increased. Yuri Izrael stressed the role of WG I and noted the need to take into account other climatic factors alongside greenhouse gases. Osvaldo Canziani highlighted the need for more data to address adaptation issues in future reports. Martin Parry underlined the uniqueness of the Panel as an institution involving both scientists and policy makers. James Bruce underscored the remarkable development and evolution in understanding of equity and economics, and stressed that the benefits of adaptation far outweigh the benefits not adapting.
John Houghton noted that the IPCC has tended to be conservative in its reporting, never overplaying what scientists knew, which explains, in part, the IPCC’s credibility. He underscored that the public is ready for the difficult messages coming from the assessments, and encouraged policy makers to build on this emerging public sentiment. Ogunlade Davidson remarked that politicians are faced with various climate challenges, in many areas of the world, chief among them the need to respond to increasing climate extremes and their costly human impacts. He further noted that policy makers can gain climate advantages in focusing on better energy policies. Robert Watson called for policy makers to facilitate investment in future energy technology, also including clean energy technology such as carbon capture and storage.
IPCC REPORTS AS SEEN BY AN ARTIST: After the panel discussion, delegates were presented photos by Yann Arthus-Bertrand from his collection “Earth From Above,” as well as a preview of his film on the “State of the Earth.”
IPCC ASSESSMENTS, THEIR RELEVANCE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY IN THE PAST AND FUTURE CHALLENGES: Rajendra Pachauri recalled the IPCC-28 decision to go ahead with the 5th Assessment Report, to be finalized by 2014. He also noted agreement on a Special Report on Renewable Energies, saying the relevance of renewables will increase. Underlining the “gigantic” expectations placed on the IPCC, Pachauri said this should be a moment of humility. He said the 5-6 year cycles of assessment reports are necessary because of the nature of the process. Noting the growing demand for updated information, he said he expected the Panel to deal with this issue. He underscored the need for outreach, to respond to media coverage, and for more resources. He stressed that the socioeconomic aspects of climate change will be of growing relevance for the content of the assessments, and urged more focus on vulnerability.
Pachauri’s address was followed by a question-and-answer session where, among others, the following issues were raised: expanded subject coverage and increase in the available literature; non-policy prescriptiveness of the IPCC; trade and climate change; collaboration with other international institutions; and data gathering in developing countries. On the issue of the IPCC helping ongoing climate negotiations, including through updates, Michael Zammit Cutajar, AWG-LCA Vice-Chair and former UNFCCC Executive Secretary, said the last thing that is needed at UNFCCC is an excuse for negotiators to hold back while waiting for input from the IPCC.
APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA AND DRAFT REPORT OF THE TWENTY-EIGHTH SESSION
On Monday morning, 1 September, delegates reconvened at the Geneva International Conference Center and adopted the provisional agenda (IPCC-XXIX/Doc.1). The Russian Federation noted that the agenda item on future IPCC activities includes both organizational and substantive components. The Panel also approved the draft report of IPCC-28 (IPCC-XXIX/Doc.2).
IPCC PROGRAMME AND BUDGET FOR 2009-2011
The Financial Task Team, co-chaired by France, met three times during the session to consider the budget prepared by the IPCC Secretariat for 2009 to 2011 (IPCC-XXIX/Doc.3). On Thursday, the Panel approved the budget (IPCC-XXIX/Doc.13), which included revisions to accommodate: an expert meeting on common metrics, a preparatory meeting on extreme events, and an additional WG Co-Chair for this assessment cycle.
USE OF FUNDS FROM THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
On Tuesday afternoon, New Zealand presented a proposal on behalf of the Task Group set up at IPCC-28 to consider the use of funds from the Nobel Peace Prize. He said the Task Group had focused its attention on the proposal to create a scholarship fund for young post-graduate or post-doctoral students in climate change sciences from developing countries, especially least developed countries. The proposed scholarship fund would, among other things: give opportunities to young climate scholars from developing countries; be distinct from regular IPCC activities; attract and accept additional funding; leave a long-term legacy; have low administrative overheads; and be governed by a small group of trustees elected as part of the IPCC Bureau elections. Argentina, supported by Colombia and Ecuador, also called for consideration of funds to be given to Latin America’s regional climate research centers. Algeria, supported by Egypt, Togo, Nigeria and Morocco, stressed Africa’s special vulnerability to climate change impacts, and the region’s need for capacity development. Nigeria and Morocco suggested supporting small projects in Africa. Austria, supported by Belgium and Togo, stressed regional and gender balance in the selection of scholarship recipients. The Netherlands recalled that the IPCC is not a capacity-building organization. Hungary and Belgium stated their preference for the fund to be used for scholarships that link directly to the IPCC and to commemorate the memory of the first IPCC Chair, Bert Bolin. Kenya, supported by Mauritius, called for more time to consider the details. The Panel decided to set up the scholarship fund as outlined by New Zealand (IPCC-XXIX/Doc.8, Rev.1) and to review the process in a year’s time.
ELECTION OF THE BUREAU AND THE TASK FORCE BUREAU
Elections were held for the IPCC Chair, Bureau Members and Task Force Bureau (TFB) in accordance with the Rules of Procedure for the Election of the IPCC Bureau and any Task Force Bureau as contained in Appendix C to the Principles Governing IPCC work. The Rules of Procedure were adopted by IPCC-25 in Port Louis, Mauritius, in April 2006. IPCC-28 decided that the “size, structure and composition” of the IPCC Bureau to be elected for the Fifth Assessment cycle will remain the same as in the AR4. A Credentials Committee and a Nominations Committee are appointed at sessions where Bureau elections are held. The Rules of Procedure also require regional balance in the Bureau across the six WMO regions: Africa (Region 1); Asia (Region 2); South America (Region 3); North America, Central America and the Caribbean (Region 4); South-West Pacific (Region 5) and Europe (Region 6). In deciding the Bureau positions, the Rules of Procedure encourage consensus decision-making within regional groups. In the absence of consensus, the Rules provide for a secret ballot to decide contested positions in the plenary.
The Credentials Committee was appointed on Monday and comprised the following six members: Yadowsun Boodhoo (Mauritius); Ricardo José Lozano (Colombia); Natasa Markovska (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia); Mohammad Koba (Indonesia); Ingrid Martinez (Guatemala); and Aree Wattana Tummakird (Thailand), who chaired the Committee.
The Nominations Committee was also appointed on Monday and consisted of twelve members: Richard Odingo (Kenya); Yaya Bangoura (Guinea); Dong Song (China); Aysar Tayeb (Saudi Arabia); Luis Vayas (Ecuador); Pauline Davies (Uruguay); Edmundo de Alba (Mexico); Nathalie Burke (Barbados); Susan Barrell (Australia); Rajendra Prasad (Fiji); Anne Mette Jørgensen (Denmark); and Milan Dacic (Serbia). The Committee was co-chaired by Odingo and Jørgensen.
On Tuesday morning, the IPCC re-elected Rajendra Pachauri as IPCC Chair. Pachauri promised to make every effort to ensure that the IPCC works in an objective and transparent manner, and conducts its business in the spirit of consensus and the highest standard of science.
Election of WG Co-Chairs and TFB Co-Chairs began on Wednesday morning. Klaus Radunski (Austria) and Ingrid Martinez (Guatemala) were appointed as tellers for the vote. According to IPCC practice, one of the two Co-Chairs for each WG and the TFB should represent a developed country with the other representing a developing or a transition economy country. Several candidates were elected by acclamation: Dahe Qin (China) as WG I Co-Chair; Christopher Field (US) and Vicente Barros (Argentina) as WG II Co-Chairs; Ottmar Edenhofer (Germany) as WG III Co-Chair; and Thelma Krug (Brazil) and Taka Hiraishi (Japan) as TFB Co-Chairs.
Delegates had to vote for one WG I Co-Chair. The candidates were Francis Zwiers (Canada), David Wratt (New Zealand) and Thomas Stocker (Switzerland) and Stocker was elected.
Ramon Pichs Madruga (Cuba) and Youba Sokona (Mali) were in the running for a WG III Co-Chair position, however the elections encountered procedural difficulties unforeseen by the Rules of Procedure, particularly in the definition of simple majority if two elections take place on the same voting slip. As a solution, the Russian Federation suggested electing three WG III Co-Chairs and increase the number of Bureau members by one. After plenary discussions and informal consultations the IPCC agreed to increase the number of WG III Co-Chairs by one, while maintaining the overall size of the Bureau, with the understanding that this is a once-off solution, and does not imply changes in the Rules. As a result, both Pichs Madruga and Sokona were elected to the Bureau.
Ogunlade Davidson (Sierra Leone) and Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (Belgium) were elected by acclamation as IPCC Vice-Chairs. A vote took place for the third IPCC Vice-Chair position between Hoesung Lee (Republic of Korea), who was elected, and Mohan Munasinghe (Sri Lanka).
Elections for other positions in the IPCC Bureau continued on Thursday. For the positions of WG Vice-Chairs, candidates from Regional Groups 1, 3, 4 and 6 were elected by acclamation (see a table on the composition of the Bureau below). Votes took place among four candidates from the Asian regional group for two positions of WG Vice-Chairs: Fatemeh Rahimzadeh (Islamic Republic of Iran); Amjad Abdulla (Maldives); Taha Zatari (Saudi Arabia); and Anvar Homidov (Tajikistan). Rahimzadeh was elected as WG I Co-Chair and Abdulla as WG II Co-Chair.
Votes also took place among candidates from the South-West Pacific regional group for three WG Vice-Chair positions: Mezak Ratag (Indonesia); David Wratt (New Zealand); Neville Smith (Australia); and Fredolin Tangang (Malaysia). Wratt was elected WG I Vice-Chair and Smith WG II Vice-Chair.
After the elections, Saudi Arabia, China and Tajikistan expressed concern that, as a result of decreasing the number of WG III Vice-Chairs because of the increase in WG III Co-Chairs, the Asian regional group is not represented on the bureau of WG III. Slovenia, with New Zealand, suggested evaluating and improving the Rules of Procedure, inter alia, to ensure regional representation in each WG.
The rest of the TFB positions were elected by acclamation. The composition of the newly elected TFB is as follows: Co-Chairs Krug and Hiraishi; Washington Zhakata (Zimbabwe); Emmanuel Mpeta (United Republic of Tanzania); Zhou Linxi (China); Sirinthotutep Towprayoon (Thailand); Leonidas Girardin (Argentina); Sergio Gonzalez Martineaux (Chile); Art Jaques (Canada); William Irving (USA); Robert Sturgiss (Australia) shared with Leonard Brown (New Zealand) in turn; Rizaldi Boer (Indonesia); Detelina Petrova (Bulgaria) shared with Sadeddin Khefran (Syria) in turn; and Jim Penman (UK).
PROCEDURES FOR TECHNICAL PAPERS: On Monday afternoon, Australia proposed a process for technical papers to be reviewed with the assistance of at least two review editors (IPCC-XXIX/Doc.4). The issue was taken up again by plenary on Thursday afternoon and the Panel agreed to Australia’s proposal.
FRAMEWORK AND CRITERIA FOR SPECIAL REPORTS, METHODOLOGY REPORTS AND TECHNICAL PAPERS: On Thursday afternoon, Australia introduced its proposal to consider cross-cutting issues that require input from more than one working group on the framework and criteria for Special Reports, Methodology Reports and Technical Papers (IPCC-XXIX/Doc.4). The Panel agreed to the proposal with a minor amendment.
SPECIAL OBSERVER STATUS FOR REGIONAL INTEGRATION ORGANIZATIONS: On Tuesday afternoon, the European Community (EC) presented a proposal to grant special observer status to regional economic integration organizations that are parties to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol (IPCC-XXIX/Doc.5). He said the EC seeks the right to participate in discussions, but not a role in the decision-making process, nor the right to vote or power to block consensus. He also underscored the EU is a special organization because, while not being a state, states have transferred some sovereign powers to it. Belarus, Japan, Russia, Benin, China, Venezuela and others expressed concerns with the proposal and a contact group was established, co-chaired by Andrej Kranjc (Slovenia) and Hiroshi Ono (Japan).
The contact group met on Tuesday afternoon and evening. Japan requested clarification whether the EC seeks the right to participate in closed meetings. Russia requested clarification of the EC’s membership status in the IPCC’s parent organizations, UNEP and WMO. Venezuela expressed concern that the EC’s request appeared to restrict the future possibility of other regional integration organizations to seek the same status. The US supported the EC’s request subject to specific language on the Community’s rights within the IPCC. Canada questioned whether the current rules for observers limit the EC’s ability to participate. Bahamas and Saudi Arabia expressed concern about setting a precedent. China questioned if the EC can be considered part of an intergovernmental panel. The contact group reconvened in the evening to consider draft texts tabled by Venezuela, Russia and the US. The contact group agreed to request further contributions by members and consider the issue at the next IPCC session.
On Thursday afternoon, Andrej Kranjc reported the results of the contact group’s deliberations to the Panel. He noted the need to open up the IPCC while avoiding being inflated with a large number of observers. The Panel agreed to consider the report from the contact group and further submissions on the issue at IPCC-30.
FUTURE IPCC ACTIVITIES
Under this agenda item delegates considered a report on future IPCC activities resulting from the task group set by IPCC-28. The Panel also considered a proposal for a Special Report on disaster reduction, and information on new emissions scenarios.
FUTURE ACTIVITIES OF THE IPCC: Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Chair of the Task Force established to consider future activities of the IPCC by IPCC Chair Pachauri at IPCC-28, consisting of China, Morocco, the Netherlands, Uganda, the US, Belgium, Pachauri, and the IPCC Secretariat, explained that the Task Force had met twice during this session, and produced an interim report (IPCC-XXIX/INF.5). He said the group wanted to capitalize on the experience of the old and new Bureau and Technical Support Units (TSUs). Van Ypersele explained the group had structured the issues on future activities of the IPCC along three axes: future challenges; methods and procedures; and subjects to be emphasized in AR5. Hungary said some guidance should be given to the new Bureau. Benin, Togo and others underscored regional balance, particularly consideration of Africa. Bolivia stressed vulnerability assessment in Andean and Amazon regions, as well as climate risks and human development. New Zealand highlighted the ability of IPCC to respond to a more dynamic environment. France emphasized financial implications, methodology for prioritization of Special Reports, and consideration of IPCC’s political neutrality in outreach activities. Colombia stressed guidelines and indicators for the next assessment report. Argentina emphasized climate change economics. Van Ypersele said another interim report will be prepared for the next Bureau Meeting in November, and a final report will be presented at IPCC-30.
SPECIAL REPORT ON DISASTER RISK REDUCTION: On Wednesday afternoon, Norway introduced a proposal, co-developed with the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), for an IPCC Special Report on managing risks of extreme events to advance climate change adaptation (IPCC-XXIX/Doc.6). Norway stressed the urgent need for information on how to manage disaster impacts to be available to the policy community, and underscored the linkages between disaster reduction and adaptation to climate change. Numerous countries supported a special report. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh underscored the report’s importance for developing countries given their higher socioeconomic vulnerability during disasters. Finland stressed the report’s significance to developed countries as well. France underscored current lack of financing for the report. Hungary emphasized the policy-relevance of the report, and that it meets items identified in the Task Force that deals with the future of the IPCC. Germany, joined by Sudan, stressed the urgent need for the report’s information to policy makers. Japan and others commented on the scope of the disasters to be covered by the report. The UK urged caution to differentiate between climate events and other vulnerabilities, and for the report not to replicate ongoing work at the WMO and in the UNFCCC Nairobi Work Programme. The UK, supported by the US, noted a piecemeal approach to deciding on special reports in the future has to be avoided. The US cautioned that the new Bureau has to be involved in the scoping of the report. The Panel agreed the new Bureau will decide on the scoping meeting.
NEW EMISSIONS SCENARIOS: Richard Moss, Co-Chair of the Steering Committee on New Scenarios, informed on progress on new emissions scenarios. He said that the work was still ongoing on the lowest radiative forcing pathway and that scenarios are expected to be transferred to climate modeling as well as impacts, adaptation and vulnerability communities in December 2008. Moss also noted that the report of the Expert Meeting on New Scenarios, which took place in Noordwijkerhout, the Netherlands, in 2007, will be translated into all UN languages.
IPCC Secretary Christ presented a progress report on outreach, including an extensive list of public activities (IPCC-XXIX/Doc.7; Doc.7/Add.1; Inf.2; Inf.2/Add.1). She said the success of the AR4 and the Nobel Peace Prize have resulted in a high demand on the Secretariat, Bureau members, TSUs, and others for outreach activities including interviews, speeches and permission to reproduce materials, as well as translations into non-UN languages. She further pointed out that while all efforts were made to ensure full regional coverage in dissemination, there were gaps in some areas. Christ outlined that while education and training were not in the IPCC mandate, the IPCC Secretariat was playing a facilitating role to support such activities. She thanked the European Commission for its €1 million contribution to a joint project with the IPCC, WMO and UNEP to support the dissemination of the AR4 in developing countries. She also asked the Panel to consider in the future how the IPCC should respond to climate research criticism.
MATTERS RELATED TO THE UNFCCC
On Thursday afternoon, IPCC Secretary Christ introduced the issue (IPCC-XXIX/Doc.11), including UNFCCC AWG-KP conclusions on methodological issues (FCCC/KP/AWG/2008/L.14) acknowledging that there are common metrics other than global warming potentials (GWP), including global temperature potentials (GTP), and inviting the IPCC to undertake further technical assessment of alternative common metrics. Brazil, supported by Argentina, South Africa and others, and opposed by the US and Saudi Arabia, proposed to host an expert meeting, with a view to develop a technical paper. Pachauri, supported by Switzerland and Norway, proposed that the new Bureau consider the issue and report back to the IPCC. New Zealand and others underscored the urgency of the issue. Taka Hiraishi, TFB Co-Chair, noted IPCC procedures and outlined potential difficulties with a technical paper. Argentina underscored the need to respond promptly to the UNFCCC. Pachauri said that while the UNFCCC is the Panel’s main customer, “the IPCC is not a fast food place.” The IPCC agreed to give the Bureau the authority to convene an expert meeting before the next session.
CLOSING OF THE SESSION
On Thursday afternoon, Turkey offered to host IPCC-30 in Istanbul in early April 2009. Many members expressed their gratitude to the outgoing Bureau and welcomed the new Bureau. Chair Pachauri closed the session at 4:12 pm.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF IPCC-29
The 29th session of IPCC began with a high-level celebration, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the heads of the IPCC parent organizations UNEP and WMO, and other dignitaries. The celebratory mood was justified. It has been 20 years since WMO and UNEP established an Intergovernmental Panel to assess available scientific literature on climate change. Although young in human terms, the Panel is a veteran among multilateral environmental organizations, and has an impressive list of achievements. Over the past 20 years, the Panel has conducted four comprehensive climate change assessments, the most recent finalized in 2007. Each of these assessments has resulted in landmark developments in the international response to climate change and, particularly, UNFCCC negotiations. Through its assessments, Special Reports and other activities, the Panel has played a key role in raising awareness on climate change and its consequences. In 2007 the IPCC was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to “build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change.”
Given the past successes and in IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri’s words, the “gigantic expectations” placed on the IPCC, the future of the IPCC is arguably one of the most important issues to be discussed since the completion of the AR4. The first post-AR4 meeting took place in Budapest. It was largely a wrap-up exercise after the completion of AR4 and a reflection on the future of the Panel. The Panel decided to carry out a Fifth Assessment, including preparation of a Synthesis Report, and to maintain the existing structure of the Bureau.
In Geneva, some aspects of the future work of the IPCC were briefly considered but mostly deferred until the new Bureau was elected and new Technical Support Units were in place. As a result, the session was dominated by a single agenda item: the election of a new Bureau, which will serve for the next assessment cycle, expected to conclude in 2014. As an intergovernmental body, the Panel always faces the challenge of not only electing candidates highly qualified in scientific matters but also ensuring wide geographical representation, in particular, of developing countries. The IPCC is the most authoritative source of scientific information on climate change, widely referred to in various international fora. Its Bureau makes many decisions that shape assessment outputs and the importance of Bureau elections comes as no surprise. After three days of discussions in six regional groups, the Nominations Committee and the plenary, and after putting to test the new Rules of Procedure adopted in 2006, which proved no easy task, the composition of the new Bureau was finalized and now the IPCC is ready to dig deep into further work and the next assessment cycle.
There are many issues in the pipeline for the Panel and newly elected Bureau to deal with. The most important of them, as noted above, is the future of the IPCC. The Panel will have to make progress on ongoing work related to: lessons from AR4; ways to strengthen the Secretariat; institutional memory, particularly in the Technical Support Units; and improving geographical representation, in terms of developing country scientist participation, data coverage, and assessment of non-English scientific literature. As for the new agenda, the elections of the Bureau held at the Geneva meeting showed that there is a need to improve the Rules of Procedure. This, particularly, relates to clarifying that voting for different positions should take place on different voting slips, in order to define simple majority for each position separately.
The Panel will also have to start planning for AR5 and address such issues as improving collaboration between the working groups and early consideration of the Synthesis Report. The newly elected Bureau will have to ensure delivery of the WG I report by early 2013 and complete the other WG reports and the Synthesis Report at the earliest feasible date in 2014. As for the substance of AR5, much work needs to be done on treatment of regional aspects, handling of crosscutting issues and addressing socioeconomic aspects of climate change.
In addition, since there were several calls in Budapest for possible Special Reports, with one of them already taking shape – a Norwegian proposal for a Special Report on disaster risk reduction – the Panel will have to decide on topics and priorities for possible Special Reports and Technical Papers. Last but not least, following the decision in Geneva to establish a scholarship fund for young scientists from developing countries with the Nobel Peace Prize money, the Panel now has to focus on its operationalization.
In summary, IPCC 29 was about Bureau elections. Despite some tense moments due to procedural issues not contemplated in the Rules, the Panel managed to solve its problems in the spirit of cooperation and to elect a Bureau, avoiding any long-term divisions and confrontation. Now the IPCC has completed its transition from the Fourth to the Fifth Assessment Report and must now enter full sail into its next cycle.
TWENTY-SIXTH COMMITTEE ON EARTH OBSERVING SATELLITES (CEOS) WORKING GROUP ON INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND SERVICES (WGISS-26): WGISS-26 is scheduled to meet from 22-26 September 2008, in Boulder, Colorado, USA. WGISS-26 is sponsored by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service. For more information, visit: http://www.joss.ucar.edu/joss_psg/meetings/Meetings_2008/ceos_wgiss/index.html
WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION 2008 PUBLIC FORUM TO DISCUSS MUTUAL SUPPORTIVENESS OF TRADE, CLIMATE AND DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVES: The WTO Public Forum will meet from 24-25 September 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, contact the WTO Public Forum: tel: +41-22-739-5677; fax: +41-22-739-5777; e-mail: Publicforum2008@wto.org; internet: http://www.wto.org/english/forums_e/public_forum08_e/hot_topics_e.htm
SIXTEENTH SESSION OF THE GLOBAL CLIMATE OBSERVING SYSTEM (GCOS) STEERING COMMITTEE: The GCOS Steering Committee is meeting from 14-17 October 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, contact the GCOS Secretariat: tel: +41-22-730-8067; fax: +41-22-730-8052; e-mail: GCOSJPO@wmo.int; internet: http://www.wmo.ch/pages/prog/gcos/index.php?name=calendar
KYOTO PROTOCOL SIXTH MEETING OF THE DESIGNATED NATIONAL AUTHORITIES (DNA) FORUM: The meeting of the DNA Forum will take place from 27-28 October 2008, in Santiago, Chile. For more information, contact UN ECLAC: tel: +56-2-210-2000, +56-2-471-2000; fax: +56-2-208-0252, +56-2-208-1946; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://cdm.unfccc.int/DNA/DNAForum/index.html
TWENTY-SECOND COMMITTEE ON EARTH OBSERVING SATELLITES (CEOS) PLENARY MEETING: The 22nd CEOS Plenary Meeting and associated events will be held from 10-13 November 2008, in George, South Africa. The 2008 Plenary will convene from 11-12 November 2008. For more information, contact the Secretariat: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.ceosplenary2008.com/index.html
TWENTIETH MEETING OF THE PARTIES TO THE MONTREAL PROTOCOL (MOP-20): This meeting is scheduled to take place from 16-20 November 2008, in Doha, Qatar, in conjunction with the eighth Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention. For more information, contact: Ozone Secretariat; tel: +254-20-762-3850/1; fax: +254-20-762-4691; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.unep.org/ozone/
FOURTEENTH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE UNFCCC (COP 14) AND FOURTH MEETING OF THE PARTIES TO THE KYOTO PROTOCOL (COP/MOP 4): UNFCCC COP 14 and Kyoto Protocol COP/MOP 4 are scheduled to take place from 1-12 December 2008 in Poznan, Poland. These meetings will coincide with the 29th meetings of the UNFCCC’s subsidiary bodies and the fourth meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) and the resumed sixth session of the AWG on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Protocol (AWG-KP). For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://unfccc.int
SYMPOSIUM ON RENEWABLE ENERGY AND WATER PRODUCTIVITY: This symposium is scheduled to take place from 7-9 December 2008, in Manana, Bahrain, and is co-organized by Crans Montana Forum Middle-East in association with the Bahrain Economic Development Board and UNIDO. For more information, contact: UNIDO Energy and Cleaner Production Branch; tel: +43-1-26026–3034.
THIRTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE IPCC BUREAU: This meeting of the IPCC Bureau is scheduled for 24-25 November 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, contact: IPCC Secretariat, tel: +41-22-730-8208/84; fax: +41-22-730-8025/13; e-mail: IPCC-Sec@wmo.int; internet: http://www.ipcc.ch/
FAO HIGH-LEVEL CONFERENCE ON WATER FOR AGRICULTURE AND ENERGY IN AFRICA: THE CHALLENGES OF CLIMATE CHANGE: This meeting will take place from 15-17 December 2008, in Sirte, Libya. The purpose of this conference is to address the availability of water resources in Africa under the context of increased demand by the agricultural and energy sectors and changing climatic conditions. For more information, contact FAO: e-mail: Maher.Salman@fao.org; internet: http://www.fao.org/nr/water/events.html or http://www.fao.org/nr/water/docs/sirteconceptnote.pdf
THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON COMMUNITY BASED ADAPTATION (CBA): This conference will take place from 22-26 February 2009, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This meeting is being jointly organized by IIED, CLACC and the RING. It will include a two-day field visit to a CBA site. For more information, contact: Dr. Saleemul Huq, International Institute for Environment and Development; tel: +44-20-7388 2117; fax: +44-20-7388 2826; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.iied.org
AWG-LCA 5 AND AWG-KP 7: The Fifth Meeting of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) and the Seventh Session of the AWG on further commitments for Annex I Parties under the Protocol (AWG-KP) is scheduled to take place from 30 March to 9 April 2009, in Bonn, Germany. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://unfccc.int
30TH SESSION OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC-30): IPCC-30 is scheduled to take place in Istanbul, Turkey, in the first half of April 2009. For more information, contact: IPCC Secretariat; tel: +41-22-730-8208; fax: +41-22-730-8025/13; e-mail: IPCC-Sec@wmo.int; internet: http://www.ipcc.ch/