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Volume 12 Number 547 - Tuesday, 12 June 2012
SUMMARY OF THE 35TH SESSION OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE
6-9 June 2012

The 35th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was held from 6-9 June 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland. The session was attended by more than two hundred participants, including representatives from governments, the United Nations, and intergovernmental and observer organizations.

Discussions focused on the work resulting from the consideration of the InterAcademy Council (IAC) Review of the IPCC processes and procedures, namely those on: governance and management; procedures for the IPCC reports; and the communications strategy.  In this respect, the Panel approved functions of the IPCC Secretariat and Technical Support Units (TSUs) and the Communications Strategy. Delegates also agreed to revisions to the Procedures for the Preparation, Review, Acceptance, Adoption, Approval and Publication of IPCC Reports, including on the role of observers in the preparation of assessment reports. These decisions conclude the Panel’s consideration of the recommendations from the IAC Review.

In addition, the Panel approved revisions to the Procedures for the Election of the IPCC Bureau and Any Task Force Bureau. Following a request from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), IPCC-35 decided to complete the review of Chapter 4 of the IPCC Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry by the end of 2013, so that it would be possible to apply the new methodologies from the beginning of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. Delegates also addressed issues such as implementation of the Conflict of Interest (COI) Policy, programme and budget, matters related to other international bodies, progress reports, and other matters.

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 socio-economic 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 (WGs): WGI addresses the scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change; WGII addresses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, impacts of climate change and adaptation options; and WGIII addresses options for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change. Each WG has two Co-Chairs and six Vice-Chairs, except WGIII, which for the Fifth Assessment cycle has three Co-Chairs. The Co-Chairs guide the WGs in fulfilling the mandates given to them by the Panel and are assisted in this task by TSUs.

The IPCC also has a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFI). The TFI 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 parties to the UNFCCC. The Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA) is an entity set up to address the WGs’ needs for data, especially for those of WGII and WGIII. The TGICA facilitates distribution and application of climate change-related data and scenarios, and oversees a Data Distribution Centre, which provides data sets, scenarios of climate change and other environmental and socio-economic conditions, and other materials.

The IPCC Bureau is elected by the Panel for the duration of the preparation of an IPCC assessment report (approximately six 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 31 members: the Chair of the IPCC, the Co-Chairs of the three WGs and the Bureau of the TFI (TFB), the IPCC Vice-Chairs, and the Vice-Chairs of the three WGs. The IPCC Secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland, and is hosted by the WMO.

IPCC PRODUCTS: Since its inception, the IPCC has prepared a series of comprehensive assessments, special reports and technical papers that provide scientific information on climate change to the international community and are subject to extensive review by experts and governments.

The IPCC has so far undertaken four comprehensive assessments of climate change, each credited with playing a key role in advancing 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 the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) in 2007. In 2008, IPCC-28 decided to undertake a Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) to be completed in 2014.

The latest Assessment Reports are structured into three volumes, one for each WG. Each volume is comprised of a Summary for Policy Makers (SPM), a Technical Summary and an underlying assessment report. All assessment sections of the reports undergo a thorough review process, which takes place in three stages: a first review by experts; a second review by experts and governments; and a third review by governments. Each SPM is approved line-by-line by the respective WG. The Assessment Report also includes a Synthesis Report (SYR), highlighting the most relevant aspects of the three WG reports, and an SPM of the SYR, which is approved line-by-line by the Panel. More than 450 lead authors, 800 contributing authors, 2500 expert reviewers and 130 governments participated in the elaboration of the AR4. More than 800 authors and review editors from 85 countries participate in the preparation of the AR5.

In addition to the comprehensive assessments, 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: 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); Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (2005); Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) (2011); and, most recently, the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) (2011). Technical papers have been prepared on Climate Change and Biodiversity (2002) and on Climate Change and Water (2008), among others.

The IPCC also produces 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. The latest version, the IPCC Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, was approved by the Panel in 2006.

For all its work and efforts to “build up and disseminate greater knowledge about manmade climate change, and to lay the foundations that are needed to counteract such change,” the IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with former US Vice President 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 WG structure, type and timing of future reports, and the future structure of the IPCC Bureau and the TFB. The IPCC agreed to prepare the AR5 and to retain the current structure of its WGs. In order to enable significant use of new scenarios in the AR5, the Panel requested the Bureau to ensure delivery of the WGI report by early 2013 and completion of the other WG reports and the SYR at the earliest feasible date in 2014. The Panel also agreed to prepare the SRREN Report, to be completed by 2010

IPCC-29:  This session, which commemorated the IPCC s 20th anniversary, was held from 31 August to 4 September 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland. At this time, the Panel elected the new IPCC Bureau and the TFB, and re-elected Rajendra Pachauri (India) as IPCC Chair. The Panel also continued discussions on the future of the IPCC and agreed to create a scholarship fund for young climate change scientists from developing countries with the funds from the Nobel Peace Prize . It also asked the Bureau to consider a scoping meeting on the SREX, which took place from 23-26 March 2009 in Oslo, Norway

IPCC-30:  This session was held from 21-23 April 2009 in Antalya, Turkey. At the meeting, the Panel focused mainly on the near-term future of the IPCC and provided guidance for an AR5 scoping meeting, which was held in Venice, Italy, from 13-17 July 2009 .

IPCC-31:  This session was held from 26-29 October 2009 in Bali, Indonesia. Discussions focused on approving the proposed AR5 chapter outlines developed by participants of the Venice scoping meeting. The Panel also considered progress on the implementation of decisions taken at IPCC-30 regarding the involvement of scientists from developing countries and countries with economies in transition, use of electronic technologies, and the longer-term future of the IPCC

INTERACADEMY COUNCIL REVIEW:  In response to public criticism of the IPCC related to inaccuracies in the AR4 and the Panel s response to the criticism, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri requested the IAC to conduct an independent review of the IPCC processes and procedures and to present recommendations to strengthen the IPCC and ensure the quality of its reports. The IAC presented its results in a report in August 2010. The IAC Review made recommendations regarding , inter alia: management structure; a communications strategy, including a plan to respond to crises; transparency, including criteria for selecting participants and the type of scientific and technical information to be assessed; and consistency in how the WGs characterize uncertainty.

IPCC-32:  This session, held from 11-14 October 2010 in Busan, Republic of Korea, addressed the recommendations of the IAC Review. The Panel adopted a number of decisions in this regard, including on the treatment of grey literature and uncertainty, and on a process to address errors in previous reports. To address recommendations that required further examination, the Panel established task groups on processes and procedures, communications, COI policy, and governance and management. The Panel also accepted a revised outline for the AR5 SYR .

SRREN: The eleventh session of WGIII met from 5-8 May 2011 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and endorsed the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) and its SPM. Discussions focused, inter alia, on chapters addressing sustainable development, biomass and policy. Key findings of the SRREN include that the technical potential for renewable energies is substantially higher than projected future energy demand, and that renewable energies play a crucial role in all mitigation scenarios.

IPCC-33:  The session, held from 10-13 May 2011 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, focused primarily on follow-up actions to the IAC Review of the IPCC processes and procedures. The Panel decided to establish an Executive Committee, adopted a COI Policy, and introduced several changes to the procedures for IPCC reports. The Panel also endorsed the actions of WGIII in relation to SRREN and its SPM, and considered progress on the AR5

SREX:  The first joint session of IPCC WGs I and II, which took place on 14-17 November 2011 in Kampala, Uganda, accepted the SREX and approved its SPM. The SREX addressed the interaction of climatic, environmental and human factors leading to adverse impacts of climate extremes and disasters, options for managing the risks posed by impacts and disasters, and the important role that non-climatic factors play in determining impacts .

IPCC-34: The meeting, held from 18-19 November 2011 in Kampala, Uganda, focused on follow-up actions to the IAC Review of the IPCC processes and procedures, namely in relation to: procedures, COI policy, and communications strategy. The Panel adopted the revised Procedures for the Preparation, Review, Acceptance, Adoption, Approval and Publication of IPCC Reports, as well as the Implementation Procedures and Disclosure Form for the COI Policy. The Panel also formally accepted the SPM of the SREX, which was approved by WGs I and II at their joint meeting from 14-17 November 2011.

IPCC-35 REPORT

IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri opened the 35th session of the IPCC on Wednesday, 6 June 2012, noting that the AR5 is approaching the final stages of completion. He reported that WGI has received comments from expert reviewers and completed the first draft of its contribution to the AR5. He also reported that WGII and WGIII have received expert comments on their Zero Order Drafts. Chair Pachauri highlighted outreach efforts on the SRREN and the SREX, and said that the Supplement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories on Wetlands is scheduled to be completed in 2013. He emphasized that the Panel has learned a lot from the IAC Review and will ensure that AR5 is scientifically robust and “goes beyond” previous assessments. He said that the IPCC will disseminate AR5 findings with “precision, accuracy and extensive effort” to reach all parts of the globe. He also highlighted the role of new authors in the preparation of AR5.

Jan Dusik, UNEP, stressed UNEP’s support for the IPCC and congratulated the Panel on progress towards completing the AR5 and addressing changes to its processes and procedures, and governance and management. He noted various initiatives by UNEP, including the fifth edition of the Global Environment Outlook; the establishment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), partly modeled after the IPCC; and the formation of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants.

Jeremiah Lengoasa, WMO, outlined recent developments that highlight the importance of the IPCC and AR5, including: preparations for the Rio+20 Conference; the report by the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, which recommends, inter alia, a regular global sustainable development outlook report and a scientific advisory board to advise the Secretary-General and the UN; the establishment of the IPBES; and the creation of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action under the UNFCCC. He identified the need to bring the IAC Review to a close and communicate its outcomes, identifying this as an opportunity to test the new communications strategy.

Halldor Thorgeirsson, UNFCCC, noted that the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference in Durban made progress on three fronts: implementation infrastructure to support developing countries in mitigation and adaptation; further clarity on mitigation pledges up to 2020 and related measuring, reporting and verification; and the establishment an Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action to negotiate a strengthened agreement by 2015 applicable to all UNFCCC parties. He highlighted the importance of the Review of the adequacy of the global goal for emission reductions as the “direct entry point” for AR5 findings into the UNFCCC process. He further highlighted the request from the UNFCCC to review the reporting methodologies for supplementary information in the Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry (GPG LULUCF).

Bruno Oberle, Secretary of State for Environment, Switzerland, highlighted the Panel’s role in providing quantitative input for stabilizing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions at a level that would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system. Welcoming the SRREN, he highlighted the role of technology in mitigating climate change and, on SREX, stressed its importance for adaptation and minimizing climate-related risks. He said the AR5 will help better understand and agree on emissions pathways. Oberle welcomed efforts to improve the internal functioning of the Panel and deemed the session in Geneva an “important milestone” in improving its work.

The Panel then adopted the agenda (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.1 and Add.1).

APPROVAL OF THE DRAFT REPORT OF THE 34TH SESSION

In the plenary on Wednesday, IPCC Secretary Renate Christ presented the revised draft IPCC-34 report (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.13, Rev.1), which incorporates the latest comments. The draft report was approved without changes.

IPCC PROGRAMME AND BUDGET

In the plenary on Wednesday, IPCC Secretary Christ presented on the IPCC Trust Fund Programme and Budget (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.2) and on the audit of the 2010 and 2011 accounts of the IPCC (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.2, Add.1), noting that the auditors found no irregularities.

On the revised budget for 2012, she noted the need to take into consideration changes related to the Communications Strategy and the COI Policy, including three new posts. She also noted that adjustment would be necessary to address additional work by the TFI on LULUCF for endorsement in 2013, to be agreed on at this session.

Noting the small number of countries contributing to the Trust Fund, the US called for a fund-raising effort by Chair Pachauri to increase the contributions base. The US also called for the Financial Task Team to provide guidance on budgetary implications related to uncertainties in the venue of meetings, suggesting that Geneva be used as a default venue.

The Financial Task Team, co-chaired by IPCC Vice-Chair Ismail El Gizouli (Sudan) and Nicolas Beriot (France), met five times during the session.

During the closing plenary on Saturday, the Task Team Co-Chairs outlined adjustments to the 2012 and 2013 budgets, including expenditures on communication activities and website improvements. They expressed concern over the small number of governments funding the IPCC and proposed that other governments be invited to contribute by letter.

The US said the budget should be more in line with the final expenditures and, supported by Switzerland, cautioned against imposing constraints on the facilitative function of the Secretariat.

France said that release of AR5 would give rise to additional communication expenditures. Chair Pachauri proposed that a contingency amount be presented to the Bureau since waiting for IPCC-37 would get in the way of effective outreach activities.

The UK called for five days, instead of four, to be budgeted for the WGI plenary. Chair Pachauri proposed having a contingency for five days, subject to further consideration by the Bureau.

Final Decision: The Panel, in its final decision on the IPCC Trust Fund programme and budget, inter alia:

•  approves modifications proposed by the Secretariat to the 2012 budget and the 2013 budget proposal;

•  notes that the pressures of resource needs on the budget will increase along the course of the AR5 cycle, requests that countries maintain their “generous contributions” in 2012 and 2013, and invites governments, in a position to do so, to increase their contributions to the Trust Fund;

•  endorses “the expression of concern” to the WMO with regard to inflexible application of the WMO travel rules in relation to the travel of developing country members of the IPCC Bureau and some experts; and

•  recommends that the Secretariat undertake an analysis of the cost and practicability of holding IPCC meetings in Geneva.

FUTURE WORK PROGRAMME OF THE TFI

In the plenary on Wednesday, TFI Co-Chair Thelma Krug (Brazil) recalled the invitation from the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 7) concerning the review and possible update of Chapter 4 of the IPCC GPG LULUCF. She explained that the CMP has revised some of the rules and introduced new ones on LULUCF reporting under Articles 3.3 and 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol, including mandatory rules on forest management and natural disturbances, and the new elective activity of wetland drainage and rewetting. She reported on the IPCC scoping meeting in May 2012 (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.20) and highlighted a subsequent decision by the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) 36, inviting the IPCC to consider completing the revision of the Chapter for adoption by CMP 9 in 2013 instead of CMP 10. She explained that the original timetable would mean the new guidance would not be ready in time for the 2013 reports. Co-Chair Krug presented a revised work plan (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.20, Add.1), highlighting proposals to shorten the expert review period from six to four weeks, and the expert/government review period from eight to six weeks. She also identified the need for an additional IPCC meeting to approve the revised chapter in October 2013.

Secretary Christ noted that it is possible for the IPCC to decide to shorten the review period and recalled that the plenary is also scheduled to convene in September 2013 to approve the WGI contribution to the AR5.

New Zealand encouraged the IPCC to meet the new deadline, while identifying the need to highlight that the review period will be shorter than usual. Canada, supported by China, underscored the risk that the product will be “under-reviewed” and generate liability for the IPCC. While recognizing the importance of being responsive to the UNFCCC, Norway stressed the importance of ensuring quality and identified the need for a “smooth process.” The UK, Italy and Finland highlighted the UNFCCC as the IPCC’s main client and supported responding positively to its request.

China, supported by India, cautioned against shortening the expert review process and identified the need to follow the IPCC’s established procedures. The US expressed concern that deviation from procedure is becoming the norm, and requested information on the budgetary implications. Brazil noted concerns over the scope of the work, which includes LULUCF project activities under the Clean Development Mechanism, saying this goes beyond the CMP’s request.

Co-Chair Krug highlighted that work will not start from scratch since many of the necessary elements are already included in Chapter 4 of GPG LULUCF. Identifying the need to balance procedural issues with the relevance of the IPCC’s work, she underscored the TFI Co-Chairs’ confidence that the work can be done within the proposed timeframe and emphasized that the review would only cover approximately 110 pages.

The IPCC agreed to establish a contact group, co-chaired by Sergio Castellari (Italy) and Birama Diarra (Mali) to discuss the issue. The group met on Wednesday afternoon and reached consensus. On Wednesday, the IPCC plenary agreed that the scope of review will be reduced by excluding the section on project activities, and that Chapter 4 of GPG LULUCF and the Guidelines on Wetlands will be approved at the same IPCC meeting in October 2013.

PREPARATION OF THE AR5

WGI: In presenting the progress report (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.17), WGI Co-Chair Thomas Stocker (Switzerland) noted that the Group completed the First Order Draft in November 2011, and received over 21,000 comments during the subsequent expert review. He also highlighted the third lead author meeting held in Marrakesh in April 2012, noting the participation of review editors, a media briefing for the local and national media, and a special focus on addressing cross-cutting issues and frequently asked questions. WGI Co-Chair Dahe Qin (China) also highlighted collaboration between WGs I and II in the preparation of the SREX.

WGII: WGII Co-Chair Christopher Field (US) stressed the SREX as an example of “extremely successful” collaboration between WGs I and II. On the WGII contribution to the AR5 (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.15, Rev.1), he noted the forthcoming release of the First Order Draft in June 2012 and encouraged active feedback. Co-Chair Field concluded that WGII is in “very good shape” to further develop its AR5 contribution.

WGIII: WGIII Co-Chair Youba Sokona (Mali) reported good progress on developing the WGIII AR5 contribution (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.21). He noted completion of the Zero Order Draft and its review, saying the deadline for the First Order Draft will be July 2012. He discussed expert and lead author meetings, highlighting, inter alia, changes made to the outline of the AR5 contribution at the second lead author meeting.

China highlighted that IPCC-31 had approved the outline of the WGIII AR5 contribution, and questioned changes made to its outline and the list of authors.

WGIII Co-Chair Sokona underscored that: no fundamental changes had been made to the agreed outline; relevant procedures had been complied with when making these changes; and all changes had been detailed in the WGIII progress report. He also noted that the agreed procedures had been followed when replacing authors or moving one author from one chapter to another. Chair Pachauri clarified that the changes made to the outline were minor and related to rearrangements rather than to substantive changes.

China suggested a procedure whereby substantive changes to the outline must be approved by the plenary, while rearrangement of the outline is acceptable. The Panel agreed to mention in the meeting report that substantive changes to the outline require plenary approval, while rearrangement is within the discretion of the WG Co-Chairs and Bureaux. He reminded the WGs to inform national focal points of changes to the lists of authors.

CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES: IPCC Vice-Chair Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (Belgium), on behalf of the IPCC Vice-Chairs, reported on a constructive exchange of views by the Co-Chairs of the WGs, welcoming the seriousness and timeliness with which cross-cutting issues were being addressed. He said that particular attention would be paid to the issues, teams and methodologies in order to contribute to the SYR, where consideration of cross-cutting issues is particularly relevant.

SYR PROGRESS REPORT: Chair Pachauri pointed to the election of candidates for the Core Writing Team, with nine authors from WGI, eleven from WGII, and nine from WGIII (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.7). He underlined that the election of these candidates was made mindful of regional and gender balance as stipulated in the IPCC Procedures, and noted that the first meeting of the Team would take place in Geneva from 11-13 June 2012.

COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY

APPROVAL OF THE NEW IPCC COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY: On Wednesday, Jonathan Lynn, IPCC Senior Communications Manager, presented the draft IPCC Communications Strategy (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.3 and INF.1). IPCC Vice-Chair van Ypersele noted that the Guidance on IPCC Communications Strategy, approved by IPCC-33 in Abu Dhabi, had been used as the basis for preparing the draft Strategy.

The draft Strategy was discussed in the plenary on Wednesday, and in a contact and drafting group on Friday and Saturday, co-chaired by IPCC Vice-Chair van Ypersele and Maesela John Kekana (South Africa).

In his presentation, Senior Communications Manager Lynn underscored the objective of creating clear structures and decision-making processes. He also discussed three areas of external communication: day-to-day communication; communication relating to the launch of reports and other planned activities; and rapid-response communication.

Many delegates commended the draft Strategy. The US, UK, Spain, Brazil and Mexico stressed the need to take into consideration the Guidance on IPCC Communications Strategy. Mexico highlighted, inter alia, the need to evaluate the effectiveness of the Strategy and the US drew attention to the scope of IPCC communication.

Switzerland highlighted the UNFCCC as the IPCC’s main client. Niger emphasized the importance of clearly defined objectives. Italy stated that the document is “too concise.” Australia called for considering the Panel’s role in communications and cautioned against being too prescriptive, including in terms of information communicated to focal points. Norway identified divergent views on focal point involvement.

Morocco and Niger called for considering vehicles of communication. Norway called for strengthening the text concerning the provision of materials in all UN languages. Spain and others stressed the need for clarity concerning IPCC spokespersons and New Zealand suggested including the WGs Vice-Chairs and lead authors among the IPCC spokespersons. The US identified the need for adequate scope for the WGs to undertake outreach activities in relation to their work. Brazil highlighted the IPCC plenary as the main decision-making body and adoption of decisions by consensus.

Discussions in the contact group focused on the need to better reflect the Guidance and missing elements. On Saturday, a draft decision adopting the Strategy and the revised Strategy were considered by the closing plenary. During discussions, delegates agreed to add that besides the designated IPCC spokespeople, authors “and WG Vice-Chairs” will often be the most appropriate people to speak on their areas of science.

Switzerland, supported by Mali and others, and opposed by the US and others, called for emphasizing the role of national focal points. The US noted that the role of national focal points differs from a country to country. Norway highlighted the importance of distinguishing between those who speak for the IPCC and those who speak for their national governments. Chair Pachauri indicated that the text already recognizes the important contribution of national focal points. No changes were made to the text concerning national focal points.

Switzerland, opposed by the US and Canada, also suggested mentioning “in particular” the UNFCCC as the main user of IPCC products. The US stressed that IPCC documents are primarily aimed at governments. Canada indicated that the IPCC’s relevance for the UNFCCC will be determined by the quality and timeliness of its work rather than by the language of the Strategy. IPCC Vice-Chair van Ypersele noted that the current language on relevant UN bodies “such as” the UNFCCC is a result of lengthy previous discussions. No changes were made to the Strategy concerning the UNFCCC’s role.

The decision and the Strategy were then approved by the plenary.

Final Decision: In its decision, IPCC-35 adopts the appended Communications Strategy and requests the Executive Committee to develop an Implementation Plan, including a set of procedures to allow the IPCC to make effective rapid responses to urgent enquiries, and report to the Bureau and focal points on the Plan’s completion by 1 October 2012. The Panel also requests the Executive Committee to present an evaluation report on the Strategy and its implementation to IPCC-37. The Committee is also requested to update the Implementation Plan as circumstances require.

The Strategy consists of four pages setting out, inter alia, goals, principles, activities and audiences. It addresses governance and management, indicating that the Plenary is ultimately responsible for ensuring that IPCC communications are appropriate. It specifies that the WGs’ and Task Force Co-Chairs are responsible for communication around reports in their areas, and the IPCC Chair is responsible for communications on the SYR. The Executive Committee is responsible for communications on the organization as a whole.

On methods and tools, the Strategy indicates, inter alia, that the IPCC reports should be made available in the six UN languages, and that the Secretariat will support focal points in communications activities in their countries, including translation. The focal points will receive materials and information in a timely manner and may seek advice from the IPCC Senior Communications Manager. The Strategy also states that approved IPCC reports and other products form the basis for communications materials.

On spokespeople, the Strategy indicates, inter alia, that authorized spokespeople must be designated for various situations to ensure objectivity and scientific accuracy, as well as efficiency and timeliness. Accordingly, the IPCC Chair and the Vice-Chairs are the lead spokespeople for the IPCC as a whole; the WG and Task Force Co-Chairs are the lead spokespeople for the activities of their WG or Task Force; and the Secretary and Senior Communications Manager may speak on IPCC activities and procedures, as well as on institutional matters. Besides these designated spokespeople, authors and WG Vice-Chairs will often be the most appropriate people to speak on their area of science and may be requested to talk to the media or represent the IPCC at conferences.

The Strategy also requires people speaking on behalf of the IPCC to focus on factual, objective presentation of information from the approved reports and refrain from public statements that could be interpreted as advocacy and compromise the IPCC’s reputation for neutrality. The Strategy indicates that this is particularly important for those holding the most senior positions.

OTHER COMMUNICATION AND OUTREACH ACTIVITIES: On Thursday, IPCC Senior Communications Manager Lynn reported to the plenary on other communication and outreach activities (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.14), highlighting the success of the embargoed early release of the SREX to the media and other outreach events, including: a side-event on new software at the 17th meeting of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties and a presentation to the SBSTA in May 2012. He also said that the IPCC will hold a side event at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) on bringing science to policy-makers. WGII Co-Chair Field reported on three outreach phases for the SREX: distribution of pre-launch materials; a two-phase launch comprising a separate launch of the SPM and e-launch; and a series of stakeholder events. He noted that the way the reports are made available determines the ability of stakeholders to internalize findings.

Norway expressed hope that lessons learned from the SREX outreach programme could be used for the AR5. Belgium, France and Spain emphasized the importance of making reports easily accessible in other UN languages. Belgium said smaller electronic versions of reports should be available to accommodate developing countries with slow internet connections.

REVIEW OF THE IPCC PROCESSES AND PROCEDURES: GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT

This item (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.12 and INF.2) was first taken up in plenary on Wednesday. It was then considered in the meetings of the Task Group on Governance and Management and a drafting group.

In plenary on Wednesday, Secretary Christ recalled that the mandate to complete the Task Group’s work was extended at IPCC-34 to IPCC-35 and noted a proposal by the Task Group Co-Chairs David Warrilow (UK) and Taha Zatari (Saudi Arabia) on Terms of Reference for the IPCC Secretariat and TSUs, and recruitment of senior officers in the Secretariat. She stressed that responsibilities of the Secretariat are outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UNEP and the WMO from 1989, and noted that any changes need to be agreed by the parent organizations. 

Task Group Co-Chair Warrilow identified the need for detailed discussions, including with regard to the Secretariat’s accountability. On accountability, Secretary Christ noted that responsibility is linked to having a certain degree of control over issues.

Jeremiah Lengoasa, WMO, also on behalf of UNEP, emphasized that the parent organizations “have a say” not only in administrative matters but also in relation to the content in the context of responsibility for the work produced by the Panel. He also highlighted that “the transient nature” of TSUs, which serve the WG Co-Chairs, needs to be counterbalanced by the constant nature of the Secretariat.

The US and Germany noted that TSUs are meant to serve their Co-Chairs and should not receive guidance from the Secretariat. Australia agreed that the MoU needs to be respected but said that the plenary should not be tied by “the way things were done in the past.”

The Task Group met from Thursday to Saturday. On the Secretariat, delegates focused on its accountability, attempting to clarify to whom and how the Secretariat is accountable as well as the role of the parent organizations and the Panel in this. Some identified a difference between the supervision of the Secretariat’s functions and its liability. Others stressed the facilitative role of the Secretariat in the development of scientific outputs. Task Group Co-Chair Warrilow identified two “big issues” emerging from the discussion: the Secretariat’s accountability to the Panel and to the WMO where it is hosted.

On TSUs, some countries suggested documenting experiences from hosting TSUs, including identifying the right level of financial support and legal issues for the host country.

Delegates also considered a document containing joint views by the WMO and UNEP on the draft Terms of Reference of the IPCC Secretariat and TSUs (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.23). The WMO highlighted the need to consider changes that can be made without updating the MoU, noting that the next opportunity to approve MoU revisions will be at the WMO Congress in 2015 and that the AR5 must be delivered during the intervening period. He therefore expressed a preference for operating guidelines over formal terms of reference that will necessitate reconsideration of the MoU.

Some countries indicated that the proposed changes to the Secretariat’s functions and status of TSUs are not so fundamental as to require WMO and UNEP approval. After discussion and clarifications from the WMO and UNEP, many countries agreed on the need to “tone down” the document by using language that is descriptive rather than prescriptive, and adopting concepts that are less legalistic than “terms of reference” and “accountability.” Many also supported a proposal to include an introductory paragraph indicating that the document relates to the implementation of the MoU.

A small drafting group incorporated countries’ comments in the text and, during Friday’s plenary, delegates approved “Functions of the IPCC Secretariat” and “Functions of IPCC TSUs.”

On Saturday, the Task Group addressed the issue of how the IPCC may participate in decisions on contract renewal, employment term limit, staff appraisal, and recruitment for senior staff of the Secretariat. Delegates approved the decision in the plenary as agreed by the Task Group.

Final Decision:On functions of the Secretariat, the decision chapeau states that the functions describe the implementation of activities in the 1989 MoU and the Annex to the MoU between UNEP and WMO, related to the establishment of the IPCC. The decision then says that the Secretariat, inter alia:

•  supports the Panel, the IPCC Chair and other members of the Executive Committee and the IPCC Bureaux, both individually and corporately, in the delivery of their mandate;

•  manages the IPCC Trust Fund and any other funds agreed by the Panel;

•  organizes and prepares documentation for sessions of the IPCC and the IPCC Bureau, and other meetings;

•  supports, as required, the WGs, TFI, and any other Task Force, task group or committee established by the IPCC;

•  contributes to the implementation of the IPCC Protocol for Addressing Possible Errors, the IPCC Communications Strategy and the COI Policy; and

•  promotes and maintains cooperation, as the principal IPCC contact point, with the UN system, in particular with UNFCCC and other relevant UN bodies; and liaises with the two parent organizations, WMO and UNEP.

Onfunctions of TSUs,the decision states that TSUs provide scientific, technical and organizational support to their respective WGs and the TFI, and that TSUs may be formed to support the preparation of a SYR or any other Task Force constituted by the Panel. The decision further states that TSUs, inter alia:

•  support the Co-Chairs and Bureaux of their respective WGs or Task Force, or the IPCC Chair for SYR, in the preparation and production of all relevant IPCC products;

•  contribute to the implementation of the IPCC Protocol for Addressing Possible Errors, the IPCC Communications Strategy and the COI Policy; and

•  participate, through the heads of TSUs, in the IPCC Executive Committee as Advisory Members.

On the IPCC’s role in the recruitment of senior staff of the Secretariat, the Panel requests the IPCC Chair to continue to provide input to the recruitment processes, preparation of the annual job plans and performance appraisals of the IPCC Secretary and Deputy Secretary in accordance with, and through WMO and UNEP. In doing so, the Panel recommends that the IPCC Chair further develops such processes, drawing advice from the Executive Committee, and notes that this should be carried out in “a defined and transparent manner.” The Panel also requests the IPCC Chair to report on progress to IPCC-37.

REVIEW OF THE IPCC PROCESSES AND PROCEDURES: FURTHER REVISIONS TO APPENDIX A TO THE PRINCIPLES GOVERNING IPCC WORK

On Wednesday, the plenary considered further revisions to Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work containing Procedures for the Preparation, Review, Acceptance, Adoption, Approval and Publication of IPCC Reports (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.10). Many of the revisions proposed were editorial, addressing inconsistencies or unintentional omissions, and were taken up line-by-line in a contact group which met on Thursday, co-chaired by Øyvind Christophersen (Norway) and Eduardo Calvo (Peru).

In addition to the editorial questions, the Panel also addressed options to clarify the role of observer organizations in the government/expert review of IPCC reports, and the government review of SPMs and overview chapters. Discussions centered on distinctions between UN organizations or “participating organizations,” “intergovernmental organizations,” “observer organizations with special observer status,” i.e. the European Union (EU), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). While admitting their important contribution, various members cautioned against elevating NGOs and special interest organizations to the same level as governments, particularly at the final stages of the writing process. Various participants welcomed input from NGOs in their capacity as experts, but expressed concerns over responding to their comments in the SPM approval session. One country preferred inviting observer comments even at the final stages, and suggested leaving it to the authors to decide on their incorporation.

After further discussion, the contact group agreed to a proposal clarifying that IPCC observer organizations are invited to participate in the expert review of First Order Draft and Second Order Draft of WG reports through their experts. Governments, IPCC participating organizations and those observer organizations with special observer status are invited to participate in the government review of the Second Order Draft and to submit written comments during the final government distribution of the SPM. For added clarity, the contact group agreed to include definitions of observer organizations, including the one pertaining to the EU, in the definitions section of the Procedures.

As part of the Appendix A discussion, the contact group also addressed whether to include the IPCC Guidance Note on Addressing Uncertainties as an addendum to the Procedures. Delegates eventually agreed to keep the Guidance Note as an independent, living document, and agreed to refer to the Guidance Note and to the website where it can be found.

In plenary on Friday, the Panel agreed to changing “participating organizations” to “observer organizations,” in order to include all organizations and to include a link to the website where the IPCC Policy on Observer Organizations is found. The plenary also agreed to state in the report of IPCC-35 that the Panel decided to invite observer organizations to encourage experts to participate in the government/expert review stage, and to request the Executive Committee to consider whether there is a need to clarify any further issues pertaining to the role of observers in the AR5 review. After going through these changes, the Panel adopted the revised Procedures.

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE IPCC COI POLICY

In the plenary on Wednesday, IPCC Vice-Chair and COI Committee Chair Hoesung Lee (Republic of Korea) reported on the implementation of the IPCC COI policy (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.6). He said Barbara Ruis, nominated by UNEP, and Susan McCrory, nominated by the WMO, would serve as legal experts in the COI Committee. Chair Lee also reported on the first COI Committee meeting, held in Geneva in March 2012 (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.6, Annex 1), and on the interim method of working of the IPCC COI Committee submitted to the Panel for approval (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.6, Annex 2).

Welcoming regular reporting on compliance and implementation, the UK, supported by Switzerland, said that the focus of the Committee’s method of work should be more on external trust and less on confidentiality. He further cautioned against the possibility of conflict of interest within the COI Committee.

Switzerland, supported by Slovenia, proposed that virtual or telephone participation in the COI Committee meetings be allowed to satisfy the requirement of a two-thirds quorum. The US described the COI policy as “a self-reporting policy” and said that there has to be an understanding of what good practice of self-reporting is. The Netherlands stressed the need to avoid a situation when somebody from the outside can find a conflict of interest “in the process that we are carrying out ourselves,” and proposed engaging external expertise on the COI policy.

In the plenary on Thursday, Secretary Christ presented a proposal incorporating delegates’ comments to avoid a conflict of interest within the COI Committee itself. The plenary agreed to the revision, which states that COI members should not consider certain cases generally involving themselves and that they will recuse themselves when such cases are being reviewed. The plenary also agreed to a suggestion by China stating that the Chair of the COI Committee should report to the plenary if such a situation occurs. With these revisions, delegates approved the working method of the COI Committee.

REVISIONS TO THE RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR THE ELECTION OF THE IPCC BUREAU AND ANY TASK FORCE BUREAU

This issue (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.9) was introduced to the plenary on Wednesday. Secretary Christ explained that the request to revise the Rules of Procedure for the Election of the IPCC Bureau and Any Task Force Bureau came from IPCC-29, and that discussions on revisions concerning the composition of the IPCC Bureau and the number of positions in the Bureau for each of the WMO regions had taken place in the Task Group and Bureau, and that governments had submitted their comments.  She further highlighted the need to consider the number of representatives from region five (South-West Pacific).

A contact group was established to address the issue, co-chaired by Ronald Flipphi (the Netherlands) and Bruno Sekoli (Lesotho). The “crunch issues” identified by Co-Chair Flipphi, that parties deliberated on included: composition of the Bureau, including the number of representatives from different regions; and nominations by IPCC members of candidates who are not their nationals to the positions of the IPCC Chair, IPCC Bureau and any Task Force Bureau.

On composition of the Bureau, parties agreed to increase the number of representatives from region five from three to four. Accordingly, the WGII Bureau will have two Co-Chairs and seven, as opposed to six, Vice-Chairs.

On nominations of non-nationals, extensive discussions ensued in the contact group on: financial support implications of such nominations; notification of the nominee’s country by the nominating country; consent of the nominee’s national government; and whether the same rules should apply to the IPCC Chair. In the end, delegates agreed that member countries of the IPCC should refrain from nominating non-nationals without the consent of the nominee’s national government. Delegates also agreed to change the title from “rules of procedure” to “procedures.”

The plenary approved the revised Procedures for the Election of the IPCC Bureau and Any Task Force Bureau contained in Appendix C to the Principles Governing IPCC Work, as agreed by the contact group, on Saturday.

OBSERVER ORGANIZATIONS

The agenda item on observer organizations (IPCC-XXXV/Doc. 4 and 5) was taken up by the plenary on Thursday. Secretary Christ noted recent UN General Assembly resolutions on the EU’s role and recommended that it be given special observer status, including the right to make comments, interventions and proposals. Delegates agreed to this recommendation.

MATTERS RELATED TO UNFCCC AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL BODIES

Secretary Christ introduced this agenda item (IPCC-XXXV/INF.3 and 4) to the plenary on Thursday.

The UN Economic Commission for Europe presented on recent developments under the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, highlighting, inter alia, an amendment to the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone, and new tasks and obligations concerning black carbon.

UNEP presented on the Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation (PROVIA), meant to address knowledge gaps identified in the AR4 and provide a more coherent approach to research, facilitating its dissemination and practical application, and serving as a bridge between scientists, policy-makers and other stakeholders. Noting the genuine need for coordination, WGII Co-Chair Field added that PROVIA had the potential to grow to address such a need.

IPCC SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMME

Secretary Christ presented a progress report on the IPCC Scholarship Programme and planning for the next round of the Scholarship Programme (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.8), highlighting matters related to the scholarship’s title, terms of office for the trustees and legal status of the Trust Fund. She noted lack of capacity within the Secretariat for fundraising and pointed to a decision by the Board of Trustees to use up to 20% of the capital to allow for a second round of scholarships, using some of this capital for fundraising. She said this decision will be revisited next year.

The US suggested leveraging the endowment via a university, with the fund-raising being done by the university, instead of an ad hoc initiative. Chair Pachauri welcomed the proposal and said he would approach some universities with the idea, and invited others to do the same.

OTHER PROGRESS REPORTS

TFI: TFI Co-Chair Krug noted that work on the “2013 Supplement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines: Wetlands” is progressing as planned (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.19). She also highlighted that the first version of the IPCC Inventory Software was presented at a side-event at the UNFCCC session in Bonn in May 2012.

SCENARIO WORK: In Friday’s plenary, Tom Kram, TGICA, presented on the on-going scenario process and the IPCC catalytic role (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.18), highlighting collaboration between three communities: integrated assessment modeling; climate modeling; and impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. He said that these communities have developed a matrix approach to scenario development based on the Representative Concentration Pathways, shared socio-economic pathways, and shared policy assumptions. The Russian Federation welcomed the productive scenario work and called for making its outcomes openly available as soon as possible for use in the AR5.

TGICA: In the plenary on Friday, TGICA Co-Chairs Timothy Carter (Finland) and Bruce Hewitson (South Africa) reported on the activities of the Task Group, highlighting, inter alia: capacity building through regional expert meetings; regionalization of the Data Distribution Center; and liaison with PROVIA. They also thanked the Russian Federation for offering to host TGICA-18 in St. Petersburg in September 2012.

ELECTRONIC VERSIONS OF IPCC REPORTS

In the plenary on Friday, WG II Co-Chair Field reported on a proposal for making the electronic version of the AR5 the document of record (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.16), highlighting the advantages of the officially approved or accepted products being archival electronic documents instead of printed documents.

Australia, Canada, Norway and others supported the proposal, with Canada stressing the importance of printed and electronic versions containing identical versions of the text; links to material approved by the Panel; a locked version; and the option to audit the document.

Switzerland, China, Germany, India, UK, the Maldives and others expressed concern about longevity, security, management procedures, the inclusion of errata, and ease of access and operation, particularly in developing countries. Mali stressed the importance of capacity building in this regard.

Switzerland and WGI Co-Chair Stocker, supported by others, suggested applying this approach to AR5 on a transitional basis, starting with two identical documents, printed and electronic.

Delegates agreed to forward this matter to the Executive Committee, and to have it report back to the Panel.

OTHER BUSINESS

In plenary on Friday, Chair Pachauri presented a request for Panel’s approval of two changes to the AR4 SYR (IPCC-XXXV/Doc.24) in accordance with the procedure set out in the IPCC Protocol for Addressing Possible Errors in IPCC Assessment Reports. The Panel agreed to the changes as proposed. 

Noting the goal expressed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the “Greening the Blue” initiative towards a climate-neutral UN, Secretary Christ proposed gradually reducing the amount of printed material at IPCC sessions. She noted that: a limited number of paper copies of session documents would still be available; electronic materials would only be relied upon if a stable internet wireless connection can be guaranteed; and a limited number of laptops would be made available. Several countries welcomed the proposal, with the Russian Federation suggesting that the official versions of final decisions should still be sent to governments by post.

TIME AND PLACE OF THE NEXT SESSION, AND CLOSING OF THE SESSION

In the closing plenary on Saturday, Sweden invited delegates to Stockholm for the WGI session to endorse the Group’s contribution to the AR5, and to the subsequent IPCC-36 meeting which will take place from 23-26 September 2013. Georgia presented its offer to host IPCC-37 in October 2013 either in Tbilisi or in the coastal town of Batumi. Denmark expressed willingness to host IPCC-40 in October 2014. 

Francis Hayes, IPCC Conference Officer, who usually entertains delegates at the end of each IPCC meeting, performed the song “Wild Thing.” Chair Pachauri declared the meeting closed at 4:25 pm.

A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF IPCC-35

GETTING THE HOUSE IN ORDER BEFORE FACING THE WORLD

Approximately a year and a half ago, the IPCC embarked on a journey to reform its processes and procedures, based largely on recommendations from the independent review by the Inter-Academy Council (IAC) launched in the aftermath of controversies surrounding the Fourth Assessment Report.

The 35th session of the IPCC in Geneva took care of the few outstanding issues related to the review, in particular governance and management and the communications strategy, as well as normal routine business, such as requests from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and reports from the Working Groups on their progress towards the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). At the close of the meeting, most delegates seemed pleased with what has been achieved over the past four sessions. Many agreed that since the IPCC has now sorted out its housekeeping matters the Panel is now well-prepared for the work and intense public scrutiny ahead, as it enters the last stage of the Fifth Assessment cycle.

This brief analysis provides an overview of IPCC-35 and the road ahead towards the AR5, and places these developments in the context of the ongoing negotiations under the UNFCCC.

THE TAIL END OF THE REVIEW

In early 2010 the IPCC found itself in the middle of intensive public criticism related to the discovery of factual errors in the Fourth Assessment Report and alleged conflicts of interest among those involved in the preparation of the assessment. This, coupled with the Panel’s slow and inadequate response to the charges, eventually led to the call by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri for an independent review of the IPCC processes and procedures. The recommendations from the IAC review drove the housekeeping work done by the Panel since October 2010.

This work spans across institutional arrangements of the IPCC and various organizational and procedural matters related to the Panel’s everyday functioning and preparation of its assessment reports. The most important reforms made prior to the Geneva meeting included: the establishment of an Executive Committee to provide management oversight and address emerging issues on behalf of the Panel between sessions, and the development of a conflict of interest policy. A number of changes have also addressed the procedures for the assessment process, increasing its transparency and strengthening the review process overall. Other critical issues that have been tackled include a clear policy for correcting errors and improved guidance for authors, including on evaluation of evidence and consistent treatment of uncertainty.

One of the key outstanding issues regarding the IAC review for IPCC-35 was the approval of the Communications Strategy. Inadequate communication of both its assessment findings and the assessment process itself has been a major weakness of the IPCC and, as such, was highlighted in the IAC review.

Key reforms in this regard included creating a new post for a Senior Communications Manager and developing a Communications Strategy. Since IPCC-33 in Abu Dhabi a year ago had already adopted Guidance on IPCC Communications Strategy, the key task in Geneva was to finalize the Strategy so that it will be ready for the Working Group I meeting in September 2013, where the Group will approve its contribution to the AR5. Most delegates were pleased with the draft Strategy and few saw its adoption as a controversial issue. Negotiations proceeded smoothly and the closing plenary was able to adopt the Strategy and request the IPCC Executive Committee to elaborate an Implementation Plan. Importantly, the Strategy will also be kept under periodic review, with the first evaluation due by IPCC-37. The document, inter alia, provides clarity on who can speak on behalf of the Panel and on what issues, and specifies that those speaking for the IPCC must focus on factual, objective presentation of information from the approved reports and refrain from public statements that could be interpreted as advocacy and compromise the Panel’s reputation for neutrality. 

IPCC-35 also had to iron out a few other matters in relation to governance and management, and procedures. On governance and management, the last pending issue revolved around the role of the Secretariat and Technical Support Units (TSUs), and the Panel’s role in the recruitment of senior staff members of the Secretariat. While responsibilities of the Secretariat are outlined in the 1989 Memorandum of Understanding between UNEP and the WMO, and changing the document entails a lengthy process, delegates were able to agree on a less formal way of capturing functions of the Secretariat as well as the TSUs. This agreement provides more clarity, transparency and better interaction between various entities. On procedures, discussion focused mainly on the involvement of observers in the preparation of assessment reports. While there was no disagreement on the need for their input, it was important to clarify the stage and extent of their involvement, given the different kinds of organizations involved in the process.

With all these decisions, the Panel’s reform of its own processes and procedures resulting from the recommendations of the IAC review comes to a close. It is generally agreed that as a result the IPCC has become a better functioning and more transparent institution. Some of the changes are already being implemented, and the early impressions are highly positive, as has been the case for the Conflict of Interest Policy. 

RESPONDING TO THE UNFCCC

Apart from the recommendations of the IAC review, IPCC-35 also considered a request from the UNFCCC. It is a key function of the Panel to respond to such requests and assist international climate negotiators in their work. An important aspect of this work relates to the preparation of guidelines on emissions and removals that countries then use for reporting under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. Such work is undertaken by the IPCC’s “fourth arm,” the Task Group on Inventories. In Geneva, the Panel considered a request by the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice in May 2012 to expedite the revision of the supplementary methodologies in the Good Practice Guidance on Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF). The request relates to changes to the LULUCF accounting rules, adopted for the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period in Durban. While the original request gave the Panel until 2014 to complete the necessary changes, negotiators soon realized that the new methodologies will be needed sooner for Annex I parties to comply with their reporting obligations for the second commitment period, expected to begin in 2013.

In Geneva, the Panel initially faced some opposition to an agreement to speed up the revision as several members voiced concern that the quality of the Panel’s work could be compromised given the tighter deadline. Others, however, emphasized the need for the IPCC to be responsive to the needs of its main client, the UNFCCC. One was reminded in this discussion that the dynamics of the IPCC’s relationship with the UNFCCC is different from most other scientific advisory panels, which were created to assist existing political processes. The IPCC, established in 1988, was the one asked to assist in the creation of the UNFCCC in 1992, and not the other way around.

The IPCC ultimately proved that it has the capacity to respond to last minute requests from the international climate policy process. Although the time allotment for authors and governments to provide their respective contributions will be shortened, the revision will be completed in time to be used by parties to the Kyoto Protocol for their first greenhouse gas inventories in the second commitment period. 

OUT TO THE WORLD: THE AR5 AND THE UNFCCC

The approval of the first part of the AR5 in September 2013 —the WGI report on the physical science of climate change— is bound to attract close public attention and its content is likely to be scrutinized by the media, policymakers and climate skeptics alike. The WGI contribution will be followed in fast succession by the approval of the three other pieces of the AR5: the WGII report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability in March 2014; the WGIII report on mitigation in April 2014; and the Synthesis Report in October 2014. One of the cross-cutting issues to be addressed in the AR5 addresses the Convention’s ultimate objective, defined in Article 2 as to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system […] within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.”

What level of climate change is dangerous is a controversial matter in the climate change negotiations. In this regard, the completion of the AR5 in late 2014 will come at a critical moment in the UNFCCC process. The Review of the adequacy of the global goal for emission reductions agreed in Cancun is scheduled to be completed by 2015. While details of the Review are still being negotiated, the process will consider the adequacy of the 2°C target and the need to adopt a more ambitious temperature target of 1.5°C, already supported by particularly vulnerable countries. Indeed, the timing of the Review has been planned so that it can benefit from scientific findings of the AR5. Furthermore, the new Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) is scheduled to complete negotiations on “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties” by 2015. While the question of pre-2020 mitigation ambition was controversial at the first ADP session in May 2012, the meeting also showed that most parties regard it as a crucial element of the Durban outcome. They expect the ADP to work on both, a post-2020 agreement and pre-2020 ambition, with the aim of closing the gap between the current mitigation pledges and what is necessary to achieve the Convention’s ultimate objective. 

All this goes to highlight the critical importance of the AR5 and the IPCC for the UNFCCC process. Many hope that the AR5 will impact the negotiations and that the ADP will deliver a post-2020 agreement that will prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change.

In line with the UNFCCC process is also the fact that the AR5 will aim to provide more detailed information on regions compared to previous reports. The socio-economic aspects of climate change and implications for sustainable development, risk management and the framing of a response through both adaptation and mitigation will also receive greater attention in the AR5.

IPCC-35 was the last meeting where the Panel could address its housekeeping matters and once again reflect on how it conducts its assessments of scientific literature. Looking back at the last year and a half, one can say that with all the changes made to its processes and procedures, the IPCC is poised to be closer to the policy relevant, but not policy prescriptive body, it is meant to be. The release of the AR5 in a politically charged world negotiating a new agreement to combat climate change will be a test of the Panel’s reforms.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development: This Forum will provide a space for interdisciplinary scientific discussions and dialogue between scientists, policy-makers, major groups and other stakeholders. Key messages and conclusions from the Forum will be reported to the Rio+20 Conference. dates: 11-15 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: Maureen Brennan  phone:  +33-0-1-4525-0677  email : Maureen.Brennan@icsu.org  www:   http://www.icsu.org/rio20/science-and-technology-forum/

IPCC Side Event: Applying Science to Sustainable Development: This side event at the Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development will involve IPCC Bureau members and authors, and is called  “Applying Science to Sustainable Development: How the IPCC brings science to the policy-makers.” During the side event, IPCC Bureau members and authors will discuss how the IPCC works and supports decision-makers, and present findings of SREX and SRREN. A panel discussion with authors and users will follow. dates: 15 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: IPCC Secretariat  phone:  +41-22-730-8208  fax :  +41-22-730-8025  email:IPCC-Sec@wmo.int  www: http://www.icsu.org/rio20/science-and-technology-forum/programme/side-events/fri-15#IPCC

Dakar: Managing the Regional Risks of Climate Extremes and Disasters – Learning from the IPCC Special Report: This event is part of a series of briefings to publicize the findings of the SREX to policy makers, practitioners and private sector audiences. dates: 18-19 June 2012  location: Dakar, Senegal  contact: Climate and Development Knowledge Network  phone: +44-207-212-4111  email: cdknetwork.enquiries@uk.pwc.com  www: http://cdkn.org/

IDB Climate Change and Sustainability Day: The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is organizing an event on Climate Change and Sustainability on the sidelines of the Rio+20 Conference. Discussions will address, among other topics: mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilient low-carbon development, biodiversity, sustainable energy and the challenges of a local-level sustainability agenda.  date: 20 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  www: http://events.iadb.org/calendar/eventDetail.aspx?lang=en&id=3475 

UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20): The UNCSD will mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit), which convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. dates: 20-22 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: UNCSD Secretariat  email: uncsd2012@un.org   www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/

Second International 100% Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition: The event is organized by EUROSOLAR Turkey, the Turkish section of the European Association for Renewable Energies, and will serve as an international platform to discuss technical, economic and political aspects of a transition to 100% renewable energy.  dates: 28-30 June 2012  location: Istanbul, Turkey  contact: EUROSOLAR Turkey  phone: +90-533-395-5839  fax: +90-216-589-1616  email: info@irenec2012.com  www: http://www.irenec2012.com

Additional Session of the UNFCCC Ad Hoc Working Groups: This meeting will include sessions of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention, the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments by Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.  dates: 30 August - 5 September 2012  location: Bangkok, Thailand  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  email: secretariat@unfccc.int  www: http://www.unfccc.int/  

Second Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change: This conference is co-organized by the Governments of Viet Nam and the Netherlands, in collaboration with other partners, including the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization. The meeting will take stock of the implementation of the Roadmap for Action established at the 2010 conference in The Hague, the Netherlands, and set new and more concrete priorities for action while demonstrating early action on climate-smart agriculture as a driver for green growth.  dates: 3-7 September 2012  location: Hanoi, Viet Nam  contact: Tran Kim Long, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development  phone: +84-4-38434682  fax: +84-4-37330752  email: longtk.htqt@mard.gov.vn  www: http://www.afcconference.com/  

“Oceans of Potential” Conference: This conference is an initiative of Plymouth’s marine science organizations and coordinated by Plymouth Marine Laboratory. It will bring together stakeholders from a broad range of disciplines to discuss the opportunities offered by oceans, including renewable energy, carbon sequestration, human health, bioengineering and new approaches to food production. dates: 11-12 September 2012  location: Plymouth, United Kingdom  contact: Conference Secretariat  email: pde@plymouth.ac.uk  www: www.oceansofpotential.org  

IPCC WG II TGICA 18th session: The 18th session of the IPCC Task Group on Data and Scenario for Impact and Climate Analysis is tentatively scheduled for September.  dates: 16-18 September 2012 (tbc)  location: St. Petersburg, Russia  contact: IPCC Secretariat  phone:  +41-22-730-8208  fax :  +41-22-730-8025  email:IPCC-Sec@wmo.int www:  http://www.ipcc.ch/

Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World: This symposium is sponsored by the Scientific Committee on Oceanographic Research, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme. The symposium aims to attract over 300 of the world’s leading scientists to discuss the impacts of ocean acidification on marine organisms, ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles. It will also cover socioeconomic consequences of ocean acidification, including policy and management implications.  dates: 24-27 September 2012  location: Monterey, California, USA  email: secretariat@scor-int.org  www: http://www.highco2-iii.org

UNU-WIDER Conference on Climate Change and Development Policy: The UN University (UNU)-World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) conference on “Climate Change and Development Policy” aims to reflect the diverse range of perspectives on how to balance climate and development objectives. The conference will evaluate how research can inform development policy and identify existing knowledge gaps, focusing on both low-carbon development (mitigation) and climate-resilient strategies (adaptation).  dates: 28-29 September 2012  location: Helsinki, Finland  contact: Anne Ruohonen  email: climate2012@wider.unu.edu  www: http://www.wider.unu.edu/home/news/en_GB/call-28-09-2012/

Worlds Within Reach: From Science to Policy: This event is organized by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), in cooperation with the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research. This Conference will examine the sustainability and development challenges posed by social, economic and environmental transformations in the world, together with options for resolving them. The Conference will highlight the relevance and application of advanced systems analysis and integrated approaches in providing science-based solutions to these problems. dates: 24-26 October 2012  location: Vienna, Austria  contact: IIASA Conference Secretariat  email:conference@iiasa.ac.at www: http://conference2012.iiasa.ac.at/index.html

IPCC WGIII Third Expert Meeting on Scenarios: The IPCC WGIII third expert meeting on scenarios of the AR5 will be held in November. dates: 3-4 November 2012  location: Vigo, Spain  contact: IPCC Secretariat  phone:  +41-22-730-8208  fax :  +41-22-730-8025  email: IPCC-Sec@wmo.int www: http://www.ipcc.ch/

UNFCCC COP-18: The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the eighth Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, among other associated meetings, are scheduled to take place in Doha, Qatar.  dates: 26 November - 7 December 2012  location: Doha, Qatar  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  email: secretariat@unfccc.int  www: http://unfccc.int/meetings/unfccc_calendar/items/2655.php

UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies: The UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and other bodies will meet in June 2013. dates: 3-14 June 2013  location: Bonn, Germany (tbc)  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  email:secretariat@unfccc.int www: http://unfccc.int/

IPCC WGI session and IPCC-36: The IPCC WGI plenary session for endorsement of the AR5 will be held in September 2013. Subsequently, IPCC-36 will convene to endorse the WGI contribution to the AR5.  dates: 23-26 September 2013  location: Stockholm, Sweden  contact: IPCC Secretariat  phone : +41-22-730-8208  fax :  +41-22-730-8025  email: IPCC-Sec@wmo.int www: http://www.ipcc.ch/

IPCC-37:  The 37th session of the IPCC will approve the update of Chapter 4 of the IPCC GPG LULUCF and Guidelines on Wetlands dates : October 2013   location : Georgia  (tbc) contact:  IPCC Secretariat   phone:  +41-22-730-8208  fax :  +41-22-730-8025  email: IPCC-Sec@wmo.int  www: http://www.ipcc.ch/

GLOSSARY

AR4  
AR5  
CMP 
COI  
GPG
IAC  
IPCC
LULUCF
MoU 
PROVIA
SBSTA
SPM 
SREX
SRREN
SYR  
TGICA
TFB  
TFI   
TSU  
UNEP
UNFCCC
WG   
WMO

Fourth Assessment Report
Fifth Assessment Report
Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
Conflict of Interest
Good Practice Guidance
InterAcademy Council
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry
Memorandum of Understanding
Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation
UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice
Summary for Policy Makers
Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation
Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation
Synthesis Report
Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis
TFI Bureau
Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories
Technical Support Unit
United Nations Environment Programme
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Working Group
World Meteorological Organization

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This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <enb@iisd.org> is written and edited by María Gutiérrez, Ph.D., Elena Kosolapova, LL.M., Kati Kulovesi, Ph.D., and Yulia Yamineva, Ph.D. The Editor is Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D. <pam@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Commission (DG-ENV), the Government of the United States of America (through the Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs), the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). General Support for the Bulletin during 2012 is provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Australia, the Ministry of Environment of Sweden, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (through the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute – GISPRI), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Belgium Walloon Region, the Province of Québec, and the International Organization of the Francophone (OIF and IEPF). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, NY 10022, USA.
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