The thirty-seventh session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-37) was held from 14-17 October 2013 in Batumi, Georgia. The meeting was attended by 229 participants, from 92 countries, including representatives from governments, scientific experts and civil society.
The Panel considered and adopted two methodology reports: “2013 Supplement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Wetlands” and “2013 Revised Supplementary Methods and Good Practice Guidance Arising from the Kyoto Protocol.” The IPCC also undertook initial discussions on mapping the future of the IPCC and addressed a range of procedural matters. Convening in the midst of the finalization of its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), the meeting addressed important issues in preparation for a significant period of the IPCC’s work, including communications, outreach, transparency, conflict of interest and programme 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. Instead, it conducts assessments of knowledge 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 (GHG) emissions and mitigating climate change. Each WG has two Co-Chairs and six Vice-Chairs, except WGIII, which, for the AR5 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 Technical Support Units (TSUs).
The IPCC also has a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFI). The TFI oversees the IPCC National GHG Inventories Programme, which aims to develop and refine an internationally agreed methodology and software for the calculation and reporting of national GHG emissions and removals, and to encourage the use of this methodology 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 (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. In addition to the Bureau, in 2011 the IPCC established an Executive Committee to assist with intersessional work and coordination among WGs. The Committee consists of the IPCC Chair, WG and TFB Co-Chairs, IPCC Vice-Chairs, and advisory members, which include the Head of the Secretariat and four Heads of TSUs. 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 that 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 Assessment Reports are structured into three volumes, one for each WG. Each volume is comprised of a Summary for Policymakers (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 800 authors and review editors from 85 countries are participating 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: Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry (2000); 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 GHGs. Good Practice Guidance reports were approved by the Panel in 2000 and 2003. The latest version of the IPCC Guidelines on National GHG Inventories was approved by the Panel in 2006.
For all its work and efforts to “build up and disseminate greater knowledge about 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 .
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 a 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 .
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 at 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 (IAC) 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 in order 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: IPCC’s 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 gray literature and uncertainty, and on a process to address errors in previous reports. To take up recommendations that required further examination, the Panel established task groups on processes and procedures, communications, conflict of interest (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 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 from 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.
IPCC-35: This session took place from 6-9 June 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting concluded the Panel’s consideration of the recommendations from the IAC Review by approving the functions of the IPCC Secretariat and TSUs, and the Communications Strategy. Delegates also agreed to revisions to the Procedures for the IPCC Reports, and the Procedures for the Election of the IPCC Bureau and Any Task Force Bureau.
IPCC-36: At its meeting, held from 23-26 September 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden, WGI finalized its AR5 contribution titled “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.” The Panel then met to approve the WGI SPM and accepted the underlying report, including the Technical Summary and annexes.
IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri opened the session on Monday morning noting the need to view climate change in the larger context, including its impacts on future generations and the planet, and emphasizing the IPCC’s role in mobilizing the world’s best scientific talent and bringing climate change to the public’s attention. He stressed that the IPCC’s work is more relevant, robust and reliable than ever to policy makers.
David Usupashvili, Chair of the Georgian Parliament, welcomed participants on behalf of the Government of Georgia. He stressed the importance of the work done by the IPCC, in particular communicating the work of scientists and disseminating it to policy makers all over the world, thus increasing awareness and reminding all of our common responsibility.
Welcoming all participants to Batumi, Khatuna Gogaladze, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection, Georgia, praised the work of the IPCC and stressed the importance of well-argued information and studies in addressing the social and economic challenges faced by many countries worldwide. She said the only way to resolve global climate change problems is for all countries to join efforts, including small and less developed ones. She assured participants of her country’s contribution and commitment.
Archil Khabadze, Head of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara, outlined the climate vulnerabilities of the Adjara region, elaborating on its climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts and its financing challenges.
IPCC Chair Pachauri introduced and the Panel adopted the agenda (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.1).
APPROVAL OF THE DRAFT REPORT OF THE 36TH SESSION
On Monday afternoon, Renate Christ, IPCC Secretary, introduced the draft report of IPCC-36 (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.24). The Republic of Korea opposed reference to the “Sea of Japan” and called for concurrent use of “East Sea” together with “Sea of Japan,” stressing this is a matter of equity. IPCC Secretary Christ responded that the draft report was prepared according to an agreement reached at IPCC-36, namely by attaching the statement by the Republic of Korea as an annex to the report. The draft report was accepted without further comments.
ADOPTION AND ACCEPTANCE OF THE “2013 SUPPLEMENT TO THE 2006 GUIDELINES FOR GHG INVENTORIES: WETLANDS”
On Monday morning, IPCC Vice-Chair Jean-Pascal van Ypersele invited the Co-Chairs of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFI) to introduce the relevant documents for this agenda item (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.8a, IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.8b and IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.INF.2). IPCC TFI Co-Chair Taka Hiraishi described the IPCC procedures with regard to the documents under consideration and provided explanations on the revised draft “2013 Supplement to the 2006 Guidelines for GHG Inventories: Wetlands” (2013 Wetlands Supplement) documents posted on the “Paper Smart” portal system.
Participants reviewed the Overview chapter of the 2013 Wetlands Supplement section-by-section, going through changes made since the last draft. Finland requested a session with coordinating lead authors (CLAs) to address substantive questions on the emission factors for boreal drained forest land in Chapter 2 (Drained Inland Organic Soils). Participants agreed to convene an informal group on this issue open to all interested participants.
On the Introduction, the US sought confirmation that the content of a deleted footnote would be reflected elsewhere in the report. The footnote clarifies that permanently flooded lands, such as reservoirs, are not included in the 2013 Wetlands Supplement. TFI Co-Chair Thelma Krug confirmed this and participants adopted the section. The Background section was also approved with minor editorial changes.
The Netherlands and the US raised concerns about the large difference in emission factors between different tropical forest plantations. In response, the Chapter 2 CLAs elaborated on differences between oil palm plantations and acacia plantations, noting differences in rotation times, nutrient management, and the wider biophysical variation where oil palm plantations are planted. These discussions continued in a small group. Co-Chair Krug later reported back to plenary that concerns, mostly related to inventory issues, had been clarified and no changes were deemed necessary.
On the section on Coverage of the Wetlands Supplements, the Chapter 3 CLA clarified in response to a question from Russia that, given the many purposes for which land is rewetted and the lack of literature on each of the purposes, the emission factors cover all purposes for which wet soil can be rewetted.
Co-Chair Krug presented the section on Managed Land and Anthropogenic Emissions, and relative revisions. The section was adopted with minor changes. Participants adopted the remainder of the Overview chapter without amendment.
IPCC Chair Pachauri then opened the floor for comments on the rest of report.
Germany requested explanations regarding inconsistencies in some emission factors used in the report’s previous drafts. The Chapter 2 CLA clarified that in some cases the changes had to do with unit changes for harmonization and that in one case, i.e., peat extraction, they were caused by the removal of two studies that had been erroneously allocated to the section.
China and Germany raised concerns about aspects of the methodology for estimation and reporting on constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment (Chapter 6). China stated that these methodologies require further development and should be placed in annexes. Further discussion on Chapter 6 was taken up in a small group. On Tuesday, TFI Co-Chair Krug reported back to the Panel that these concerns had been resolved by a decision to use expert judgment when deciding whether a category is or is not a “key category,” and whether it requires the application of the methodological approach included the 2013 Wetlands Supplement.
Co-Chair Krug also reported on issues related to Chapter 4 (Coastal Wetlands), saying that concerns raised by China regarding fish ponds were resolved by including an explanation on how the emission factors were derived, and by ensuring consistency with the treatment of animals addressed in the agricultural sector.
On Tuesday, participants continued their consideration of the Wetlands Supplement. TFI Co-Chair Krug reported on discussions undertaken in small groups on Monday. On Chapter 2 (Drained Inland Organic Soils), she said discussions focused on emission factors related to boreal and temperate climate zones, and the agreed solution provided for both a clarification on boreal and temperate emission factors, as well as an additional emission factor, which takes into account values developed only in forests.
Many parties, including Germany, Finland, the US, China, Norway and Mali, expressed satisfaction with the hard work and constructive spirit of the small working groups in finding solutions, saying the amendments improve the applicability of the Supplement. The Panel accepted the 2013 Wetlands Supplement without further amendments. TFI Co-Chair Hiraishi explained next steps and informed participants that the pre-edited version of the Supplement will be published on the Internet by 2 November 2013, while the official publication will be released in February 2014.
ADOPTION AND ACCEPTANCE OF THE “2013 REVISED SUPPLEMENTARY METHODS AND GOOD PRACTICE GUIDANCE ARISING FROM THE KYOTO PROTOCOL”
TFI Co-Chair Hiraishi introduced this item (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.9b/Rev.1, and IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.INF.3/Rev.1) on Thursday morning.
TFI Co-Chair Krug reviewed section-by-section the changes made to the Overview chapter of the draft 2013 Revised Supplementary Methods and Good Practice Guidance arising from the Kyoto Protocol on land use, land-use change and forestry (KP LULUCF Supplement). She noted that most of the proposed amendments aimed to simplify or update previous drafts, making the text as precise and as consistent as possible without losing substantive aspects. She stated that these amendments included the deletion of duplicative footnotes and the elimination of acronyms.
China requested clarification on the relationship between the 2013 KP LULUCF Supplement and the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National GHG Inventories with regard to the treatment of managed lands. Co-Chair Krug elaborated on the distinction between reporting under the UNFCCC and accounting under the Kyoto Protocol. She explained that the Supplement follows the activity-based approach in the Kyoto Protocol’s Decision 2/CMP.7 (LULUCF), which, among other things, includes provisions on natural disturbances that allow for removing from the accounting non-anthropogenic emissions that would put at risk countries’ compliance with their Kyoto Protocol targets.
The Panel went through the Overview chapter’s Table 1 on changes in the treatment of LULUCF activities in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol relative to the first commitment period. On accounting for harvested wood products, China requested, and the Panel agreed to, clear language stating that, in accordance with Decision 2/CMP.7, imported harvested wood products, irrespective of their origin, are not to be accounted for by the importing party.
On the Policy Relevance section of the chapter, Germany, Spain, India and Finland, opposed by Brazil, objected to a sentence related to the starting date for the definition of reforestation, which stated that a different interpretation may be a possible subject of future decisions of the international climate change regime. They argued that the sentence was not necessary and possibly prejudged policy under the UNFCCC. The Panel agreed to remove the reference.
With regard to the use of remote sensing data, the US proposed, and the Panel agreed, to insert a reference in a footnote in Chapter 2 (Methods for Estimation, Measurement, Monitoring and Reporting of LULUCF Activities under Articles 3.3 and 3.4) of the full report, referring to the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations’ (GEO) work with space agencies to acquire and make freely available relevant data and related products from remote sensing platforms and in situ platforms for various countries, including those subject to the Supplement and, more broadly, to all countries reporting under the UNFCCC, as an example.
The Panel then accepted the report as a whole. IPCC Chair Pachauri congratulated all involved in producing the 2013 KP LULUCF Supplement, and said it is a demonstration of the strength of the IPCC and of science and policy actors working together.
FUTURE OF THE IPCC
This agenda item was discussed in plenary on Tuesday and Thursday and by a small group that met throughout the week.
On Tuesday morning IPCC Secretary Christ introduced the agenda item (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.19 and IPCC-XXXVII/INF.1). She outlined possible options and considerations that should be taken into account in accordance with countries’ submissions, including the use of comprehensive assessments, regional issues, timing, structure, methods of the WGs, size and composition of bureaus, engagement of developing country experts, and the role of the TFI.
Many countries supported further work on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, recommending the establishment of a coordinated programme for research on vulnerability and adaptation. Finland highlighted the importance of the IPCC for small and developing countries and noted the need for both continuity and regular change on the Bureau. He also discussed the need to structure the timing of reports so that the best scientists can be attracted to the IPCC. Mali urged the identification of gaps, highlighting the need for a special team to address inadequate data availability, processing and treatment, especially in Africa.
Multiple interventions were made calling for the involvement of more scientists from developing countries in the IPCC’s work, including increasing their participation in TSUs. Participants stressed the need to address regional aspects. Mexico, supported by Venezuela, called for involving rural and indigenous communities and for including traditional knowledge. She urged better coordination with other international organizations to avoid duplication of efforts in producing reports.
Many participants spoke on the importance of assessment reports as the foundation of the IPCC’s work. Quoting the IPCC’s founding text, IPCC Chair Pachauri recalled that the general constituency that the IPCC serves is larger than governments, and includes business and industry. Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand and others referred to the need to adapt to the changing times, but underscored the importance of maintaining the IPCC’s rigorous processes.
Participants expressed the need for an intergovernmental task group to address the future of the IPCC. New Zealand emphasized that, while the task group should be led by governments, the views and expertise of the scientific community should be taken on board. Norway stressed the need for involvement of the Bureau. Many participants called for establishing a small group to develop the mandate and terms of reference for the intergovernmental task group. Noting the IPCC is more exposed to public scrutiny than ever before, the UK pointed to “signs of an IPCC fatigue” among the scientific community and stressed the terms of reference should include specific reference to the involvement of the scientific community. In the discussions, Canada stressed the importance of maintaining policy relevance and scientific integrity and called for incorporating inputs from organizations such as the UNFCCC, World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as well as business and others, in an open and transparent process when discussing the future of the IPCC.
IPCC Vice-Chair Jean-Pascal van Ypersele stressed the need to ensure that: the quality of IPCC work is maintained; its independence and objectivity are preserved; it remains science-based; it maintains policy relevance; it is efficient in its work; it is inclusive; and it is transparent and becomes more open to the media.
Japan noted the need to consider the current WG structure, stressing the importance of promoting cooperation and consistency between the WGs. He further called for improving the regional balance of experts, especially in the Synthesis Report (SYR). Japan supported continuation of the work on methodological guidance undertaken by the TFI, especially in light of a UNFCCC agreement in 2015, and said it would continue to support the TFI’s activities.
Belgium supported keeping the comprehensive nature of assessment reports while striking a balance with regularly updated information and attending to user demands. She also noted the need to address scenarios and coordination, the roles of TSUs, and the mandate of the IPCC Vice-Chairs.
The US highlighted the need to incorporate lessons learned and best practices as well as the needs of the user community. He emphasized the significance of assessment reports and their comprehensive nature, and supported staggering the work of the WGs. He also noted the value of special reports.
Indonesia called for focusing on low-carbon development and looking at long-term economic plans that are policy-relevant and implementable. Supported by Saudi Arabia, Indonesia also stressed the importance for the IPCC to benefit from international progress in sustainable development discussions. China emphasized keeping in mind the needs of the UNFCCC and governments, enhancing the visibility of the IPCC and its products, and called for consistency between a sixth assessment report and the AR4 and AR5. She also cautioned against major changes, stressing the importance of recent improvements in IPCC procedures.
While acknowledging the value of reviewing the IPCC, the WMO cautioned against “throwing out the baby with the bath water.” New Zealand stressed the need to ensure representation of all regions in the Bureau and the Executive Committee, should the structure of the IPCC be revised.
Norway stressed the need to, among other things: provide an update between assessment reports; continue improving communication, especially outreach in developing countries; improve cooperation between WGs; and ensure the IPCC’s performance during transition periods from one Bureau to the next. Argentina underlined the importance of creating incentives for the CLAs to ensure their continued involvement in the WGs, and said availability of special reports should be increased.
Stressing the importance of supporting work on adaptation, Nicaragua emphasized the need for more representative data for each region, a greater focus on loss and damage issues, more regional experts and improved developing country capacities to process data. He recommended the use of data processing platforms. Maldives, with Peru, highlighted the need for synthesizing country submissions on the future of the IPCC. Tanzania urged efforts to enhance involvement of African scientists and underlined the need for communication and outreach. UNEP expressed its interest in participating in the deliberations of the task group on the future of the IPCC.
France stressed the need to take account of how IPCC products will be used, suggested that the frequency of comprehensive assessments should not be changed and said financial resources must be considered when planning for future assessment cycles. He also called for greater IPCC engagement with other international organizations and the private sector. Madagascar urged the development of a procedure for consulting and getting inputs from users of IPCC reports, suggested more awareness raising, and asked for increased training of African scientists so that more regional data can be used in IPCC assessments.
Addressing a process and timeline for a task group, Germany suggested holding back-to-back meetings with already scheduled sessions in 2014, including possibly IPCC-39 in Berlin, and for a decision in early 2015 to allow for the election of the Bureau, six months later. Denmark supported a longer time-lag between the WGs’ reports and expressed confidence that, like Germany with IPCC-39, Denmark could organize a back-to-back meeting with IPCC-40 in Copenhagen.
South Africa raised issues regarding the need for independent reviews of the IPCC, transition times between assessments, the scoping of assessments, and developing country involvement in assessments. He noted the need to focus on improving IPCC efficiency and effectiveness.
Venezuela invited the IPCC to present results in Venezuela and Peru in 2014 in time for the UNFCCC’s twentieth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20). Comoros urged support for small island developing states (SIDS) and others so they may contribute to the IPCC.
WGII Co-Chair Christopher Field assured the Panel that, in spite of so-called “author fatigue,” the IPCC continues to attract the strongest authors. In this regard, he outlined six critical issues: the privilege that comes with being an author is dependent on the rigor of the IPCC; incorporating scientists from developing countries not represented before would be an added incentive for authors to join; authors can be good IPCC outreach ambassadors; the importance of allowing authors to focus on high-level scientific findings and assisting them in the routine aspects of writing; the value of facilitating access to a wide range of literature; and identification as IPCC authors and not only as WG authors.
WGI Co-Chair Qin Dahe said that lead authors and CLAs should be mobilized further for outreach purposes and suggested finding some metrics for the participation of scientists from developing countries and countries with economies in transition, as well as finding ways for scientists from small countries to join, in particular in WGI, as part of capacity-building efforts.
Brazil welcomed the comprehensive nature of the assessment reports, but proposed reviewing the time-lag between the work of the WGs. Spain suggested maximizing the opportunities for electronic meetings for the Task Group on the future of the IPCC.
WGIII Co-Chair Youba Sokona stressed the need for greater participation from developing countries and African countries, so that IPCC reports can increase their impact and usefulness for all countries. He suggested better engagement of African universities in the IPCC’s work, and better African access to scientific literature. Sierra Leone also urged greater participation from African countries through diversification, relationship building and assistance. Ecuador called for support for analyzing methodologies by sector and for analyses of the costs of non-adaptation. Bahamas urged improving the observational networks in developing countries to reduce data gaps.
WGIII Co-Chair Ramon Pichs-Madruga recommended a greater focus on adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development.
The Panel agreed to establish a task group on the future of the IPCC. IPCC Chair Pachauri suggested that the IPCC establish a small open-ended group co-chaired by New Zealand and Saudi Arabia to develop terms of reference and report back to plenary. On Wednesday afternoon, the Co-Chairs of the small open-ended group presented the group’s proposal to plenary. Participants considered the composition of the Task Group, debating whether to identify a core membership to ensure regional balance and for practical organizational purposes, while acknowledging the open-ended nature of the group.
Secretary Christ clarified that UNEP and WMO would be invited to participate as parent organizations. The European Union (EU), supported by Belgium, requested that a footnote be added to ensure the EU’s representation as an observer organization with special observer status. Germany also requested adding representatives of the Executive Committee and TSUs to the list of participants. A show of hands was requested to take note of those interested in becoming active participants in the Task Group. Practically all countries expressed interest in joining the Task Group’s core membership.
Participants also addressed the operation of the Task Group, agreeing it would: meet in conjunction with plenary sessions and during the intersessional period; be conducted by electronic means, if possible; and report to the 39th, 40th and 41st sessions of the IPCC.
Discussion continued on Thursday. The Panel was presented with draft terms of reference agreed by the drafting group, which were adopted by the Panel with minor amendments. The Panel also agreed that the Secretariat would: produce a synthesis of the submissions received from governments; summarize the discussions from IPCC-37; and invite governments to make another round of submissions based on the terms of reference.
Final Outcome: The agreed terms of reference set out the Task Group’s background, objectives, inputs, outputs, and composition and operations. The Group’s objectives are to help the IPCC to continue improving its operation and products, by developing options and recommendations on: the future products of the IPCC; the structure and modus operandi for the production of IPCC products; and ways to ensure enhancement of the participation and contributions of developing countries in the future work of the IPCC.
The Group will be open-ended with a core membership of 42 countries and the EU, as set out in an annex to the terms of reference. It will be chaired by Saudi Arabia and New Zealand. The Group will draw inputs from multiple sources, including submissions from people involved in the preparation of reports during the AR5 cycle, IPCC members, IPCC observer organizations and stakeholders, and scientists involved in the IPCC process, as well as views expressed at IPCC-37. It will meet in conjunction with IPCC sessions and will report on progress at IPCC-39 and IPCC-40. The Task Group will make its recommendations to IPCC-41.
COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY AND OUTREACH
The IPCC’s communications strategy and outreach was discussed on Monday afternoon. Jonathan Lynn, IPCC Secretariat, introduced documents on this agenda item (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.13, IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.14 and IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.15) and provided updates on the plans for communication and outreach on the AR5.
Noting the release to the media of an embargoed copy of the WGI SPM two hours prior to its official release at IPCC-36, Lynn stated this initiative allowed well-informed, timely and accurate communications. He proposed, and several participants supported, extending the embargo period to 24 hours for the WGII and III reports.
Recalling the support provided at IPCC-36 by, among other things, seconded staff from the Secretariat, local volunteers, and the WMO, Lynn stressed the need to further improve the availability of resources during peak periods. He said more work could be done regarding television broadcasting, noted the Secretariat’s active engagement with major media and highlighted its work on a series of IPCC videos. Many participants congratulated the Secretariat for the work undertaken and provided information about past or planned communication and outreach activities in their countries.
Japan noted the need for clear messages outlining changes from one assessment report to another. Cautioning against having inconsistencies between the WGI SPM and the underlying WGI report, China noted that the underlying report posted on the IPCC website was not consistent with revisions made to the WGI SPM at IPCC-36. He called for the Secretariat to make the relevant online disclaimer more obvious to readers.
Mexico said the impacts of the IPCC’s communication and outreach efforts could be assessed by calculating the number of online downloads of IPCC materials, and called for training CLAs on communicating with the media. Spain raised questions regarding the translation of communication materials into UN languages. Stressing the importance of communication and awareness raising, Mali called for more outreach activities to be conducted in developing countries, especially in Africa. Belgium requested the Secretariat to provide slides on the main results, in a timely manner and in appropriate formats allowing for the translation of figures and tables into different languages.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE IPCC CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY
On Wednesday, IPCC Chair Pachauri introduced this agenda item (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.4). IPCC Vice-Chair Hoesung Lee described the recent proceedings of the IPCC Conflict of Interest Committee, noting that all Bureau members had submitted conflict of interest forms and annual updates and that no conflicts of interest were found. He highlighted key aspects of the Conflict of Interest Policy, including provisions on the implementation procedure, and noted the establishment of an expert advisory group. Belgium stated that the Committee is to have legal advisors from both UNEP and WMO and raised concern that the WMO advisor has not yet been appointed. WMO responded that the appointment process has been initiated and that further information would be provided to the IPCC Secretariat as the process develops.
REDUCING THE CARBON FOOTPRINT OF IPCC ACTIVITIES
Participants addressed this matter on Monday afternoon. IPCC Secretary Christ introduced the agenda item (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.10), stating that the Secretariat has studied reducing the IPCC’s carbon and environmental footprints, and examining the choice of meeting venues and travel distances. She stressed that these considerations must be balanced with other needs, including the facilitation of outreach and awareness raising. She raised the possibility of carbon offsetting and noted the success of the IPCC’s use of electronic documents at recent meetings.
New Zealand emphasized the need to hold meetings in different venues worldwide and stressed that Bureau members should have input on where meetings are held. Norway pointed out the value of selecting “green hotels” and suggested that green information about hotels should be provided to participants before meetings. Australia and Saudi Arabia urged a balanced approach in selecting venues. The UK stressed that electronic communications should be encouraged and that genuine carbon offsetting should be used. Brazil recommended that the IPCC and others offset emissions by purchasing credits under the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism. Canada highlighted the value of holding non-plenary meetings electronically and the importance of measuring the impacts of awareness raising and capacity building. Germany said information on the costs of offsetting is needed, and India stressed that offsetting must be balanced with other priorities. Norway urged the application of the polluter pays principle, noting the IPCC should not pay for offsetting the carbon emitted by developed country participants. IPCC Chair Pachauri said the Secretariat would investigate these issues and provide data and options in due course.
IPCC PROGRAMME AND BUDGET
On Monday, IPCC Secretary Christ introduced this agenda item and documents, including on: the statement of income and expenditure, the budget for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.2, Corr.1 and IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.2, Corr.1 Add.1); matters related to travel by participants and arrangements for meetings (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.7); and on reporting services for IPCC meetings (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.26). The Financial Task Team took over discussions in a breakout group, meeting five times during the session, co-chaired by Nicolas Beriot (France) and Ismail El Gizouli (Sudan).
On Thursday afternoon, Co-Chair Beriot reported on the work of the group, noting, among other things, that amendments would have to be made to the budget to accommodate meetings of the Task Group on the future of the IPCC and AR5 outreach activities. He also said the team had examined the results of a study launched by the Secretariat and WMO to assess travel arrangements and had recognized a serious effort by the Secretariat to improve the situation, adding that this should be sustained. He expressed the Financial Task Panel’s gratitude to governments, WMO and UNEP for their contributions and presented the Financial Task Team’s recommendations to the Panel, which included, among other things:
• requesting the Secretariat to contact IPCC focal points and invite them to consider making funding provisions to cover outreach activities after the launch of a report;
• encouraging governments, that are in a position to do so, to emulate Norway in its support of outreach activities for the SREX;
• noting that pressures on the budget will increase along the AR5 cycle and calling on countries to maintain or increase their contributions;
• noting the revised standard cost of travel from CHF4,500 to CHF4,000; and
• allocating a grant of CHF50,000 to cover travel costs to Earth Negotiations Bulletin writers covering the WGII, WGIII, and AR5 SYR approval sessions in 2014.
The Panel adopted the recommendations.
PROGRESS IN THE PREPARATION OF THE FIFTH ASSESSMENT REPORT
WGI Progress Report: On Wednesday, WGI Co-Chair Thomas Stocker presented the progress on WGI’s contribution to the AR5 (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.23), highlighting activities since the WGI session in Stockholm, such as collaboration with the UNFCCC Secretariat on communication strategies and implementation, a dedicated website for WGI, and presentations of the WGI report at various science, stakeholder and policy meetings. Many countries expressed gratitude to the WGI Co-Chairs and congratulated lead authors, the Secretariat, the IPCC Chair, TSU and scientists for their contribution to the report.
WGII Progress Report: On Wednesday, WGII Co-Chair Vicente Barros introduced relevant aspects from the WGII progress report (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.6), including that the Group completed the second order draft and is currently in the phase of submitting the final draft to governments. WGII Co-Chair Christopher Field highlighted the development of a more technologically-advanced website for presentation of the reports and an outreach programme focusing on developing countries. During the ensuing discussion, the Republic of Congo stressed the importance of capacity building and Comoros called for SIDS’ participation in assessment reports. Venezuela expressed interest in hosting a dissemination activity of the WGII report following its approval in Yokohama at IPCC-38 and prior to the UNFCCC pre-COP 20 ministerial meeting to be held in Venezuela in 2014.
WGIII Progress Report: On Wednesday, WGIII Co-Chair Ottmar Edenhofer reported on progress by WGIII (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.21), saying, among other things, that WGIII’s second order draft received more than 90,000 comments from 445 experts and 24 governments, and that WGIII is approaching the completion of the final draft. He informed participants that an appendix on waste and bioenergy was added to Chapters 10 and 11, respectively, explaining that the authors considered these important topics as deserving more comprehensive and focused treatment.
Brazil stated his country’s position calling for the removal of such an appendix, questioning the necessity of singling out bioenergy, and noting the lack of significant evolution of this theme since the 2011 SRREN. He requested the option for governments to provide further comments should the appendix be maintained and, if not, that the information in the appendix be incorporated in the relevant chapter. WGIII Co-Chair Edenhofer stressed that the appendix on bioenergy allows for a more comprehensive and focused treatment of one of the fastest growing areas in the literature on climate change mitigation, where a substantiveamount of new literature has emerged since the literature cut-off for the SRREN. He added that it would not be logistically possible or appropriate to have another round of comments on the appendix at this stage.
Noting the appendix also contains a paragraph with conclusions, Norway underlined the importance of dealing with substantive issues in the main chapters, not in an appendix, and called for ensuring that all procedures are respected with regard to governments’ consideration of this appendix. WGIII Co-Chair Edenhofer further explained that the appendix on bioenergy is the result of a cross-chapter agreement, as the issue of bioenergy is relevant for various chapters and, therefore, is cross-cutting in nature. He said that authors felt the need to have one dedicated place where an integrated discussion of these various aspects can be located in order to do justice to the topic.
Recalling the importance of the waste management issue for rapidly urbanizing developing countries, Peru supported the proposal by Brazil to carry out a special review of this appendix.
IPCC Chair Pachauri noted the importance of the subject matter as it referred to negative emissions for which substantial literature exists, which he said is an important part of what the world expects the IPCC to cover. He recalled that authors, concerned with the overall balance of the report, had suggested this be part of the appendix as it is only one set of technologies, yet agreed that matters of policy relevance should appear in the chapter itself. The Panel agreed that no significant conclusions would be left solely in an appendix, but would appear also in the relevant chapter.
SYR Progress Report: On Wednesday, IPCC Chair Pachauri introduced the SYR Progress Report (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.22, Corr.1). Updating the Panel on changes made to the draft SYR, he noted the insertion of boxes addressing cross-cutting issues, the removal of duplicative materials, and the inclusion of text on GHG metrics. Germany inquired why the metrics and boxes were added and Sweden asked how the selection of the topics in the boxes was determined. IPCC Chair Pachauri and SYR TSU Head Leo Meyer explained that the boxes were chosen by the authors to deal with cross-cutting issues, providing a clear understanding of issues that cut across the SYR. Canada suggested the inclusion of boxes on recent temperature trends and, with Germany, geo-engineering, should be re-considered. Russia stressed that the SYR must be based on the conclusions of the three WG reports.
Progress Report on the TFI: On Wednesday, TFI Co-Chair Taka Hiraishi provided a progress report on TFI activities (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.20), including: the adoption of the Overview chapter of the 2013 Wetlands Supplement on Monday, and the acceptance of the overall report on Tuesday; the preparation of the 2013 LULUCF KP Supplement; work on the emission factors database; improvements to the IPCC software on GHG inventory preparation, which was launched at the IPCC expert meeting held in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2012; further work on remote sensing and fugitive emissions through expert meetings; and a proposal, included in the budget for 2014, to carry out an analysis of current IPCC methodologies in view of a likely future request by the UNFCCC for the IPCC to develop new guidance related to a new protocol or other legally-binding instrument to be agreed in 2015.
Progress Report of the Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA): On Thursday, Timothy Carter, TGICA Co-Chair, presented on TGICA and reported on its activities (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.12), focusing on progress since the TGICA-17 meeting in February 2012. The activities included: development of technical guidelines and fact sheets; capacity-building activities, such as an expert meeting planned for 2014; and engagement with the WMO’s Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). He also informed participants that the TGICA Co-Chairs would extend their tenure until the end of the IPCC cycle in 2015. During the ensuing discussion, participants addressed issues such as: the TGICA’s role in providing background information to the Task Group considering the future work of the IPCC; availability of new emissions scenarios; the need to increase data availability; the importance of and need to engage further with the GFCS; and the need to increase the level of financing of the TGICA.
Progress Report on the IPCC Scholarship Programme: On Wednesday, IPCC Secretary Christ introduced a progress report on the IPCC Scholarship Programme (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.11). She provided an overview of the financial status of the Programme, explaining that core funding is from IPCC’s Nobel Peace Prize award and through a partnership with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the Cuomo Foundation. She stated that 13 students from a variety of developing countries have been awarded scholarships in 2013, and noted that due to the significant number of applications received, the criteria for applicants was tightened, including a requirement that applicants be under 30 years of age. She noted the desirability of extending the programme and developing a scholarship alumni network. She also urged participants to provide suggestions on additional funding sources. The Republic of Congo suggested the establishment of a research center in Africa to facilitate training of young people in the region. Tanzania and Sierra Leone expressed concerns that the age limit of 30 years was too low and urged flexibility in this regard. Comoros stated that it is important to have a fair regional distribution of scholarship beneficiaries.
EFFECTIVENESS OF THE IPCC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
On Tuesday, IPCC Chair Pachauri elaborated on the Executive Committee, saying that it had been an extremely productive and effective innovation. He noted that the Committee holds routine monthly meetings, 90% of the time they are held electronically, and minutes are made available to focal points and are available for the record.
ADMISSION OF OBSERVER ORGANIZATIONS
On Tuesday morning, Secretary Christ introduced this agenda item (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.3). The Panel agreed to admit as observers: the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands; Climate Action Network-International (CAN-I); the European Climate Foundation (ECF); and the Climate Group. Noting the receipt of the Industrial Technology Research Institute's update on its application soliciting observer status (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.3, Add.1), she said that the application is still pending.
MATTERS RELATED TO UNFCCC AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL BODIES
On Tuesday, the UNFCCC Secretariat made a presentation on the relevance of the AR5 WGI report to the UNFCCC process, noting that the AR5 represented a significant step forward in terms of climate policy, particularly its sections on drivers, regional and near-term projections, and sea-level rise and the carbon budget for staying below the 2ºC target. He said the findings would be presented at a Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) special event at UNFCCC COP 19 and commended the AR5 for providing the foundation for a strong policy response as the UNFCCC advances in its goal of adopting a global climate change agreement in Paris in 2015.
WMO informed the Panel that the first Intergovernmental Board on Climate Services was held in Geneva in July 2013, and had adopted the Global Framework for Climate Services implementation plan.
Electronic Versions of IPCC Reports as a Document of Record: On Wednesday, IPCC Secretary Christ introduced this sub-item of the agenda (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.18). WGII Co-Chair Field noted many comments received on the idea of moving forward with both electronic and printed documents. Responding to concerns from the Republic of Congo and Maldives regarding Internet access constraints in many developing countries and regions, the Secretariat provided assurance that printed reports would not be discontinued.
Possibility of Convening Bureau Sessions through Electronic Means: On Wednesday, IPCC Secretary Christ presented this sub-item of the agenda (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.5). She set out a proposal to allow Bureau members, under certain circumstances, to participate in meetings through video conference or other electronic means. During the ensuing discussion, many countries supported the Secretariat’s proposal. China, supported by Mali and Saudi Arabia, called for maintaining the possibility of providing interpretation in the six official UN languages when technologies allow for it. WGII Co-Chair Field supported China’s proposal and encouraged conference facilities to adopt technologies that allow for interpretation in all UN languages also in the case of remote participation. Maldives welcomed the use of electronic means, but cautioned against conducting meetings entirely remotely.
On Wednesday afternoon, Secretary Christ outlined proposed changes to paragraph 14 of the Principles Governing IPCC Work to allow participants to attend Bureau meetings remotely in English. She encouraged countries hosting these meetings to facilitate the use of adequate technologies and facilities, which allow full remote interpretation in all UN languages. She noted that interpretation arrangements would be subject to the agreement of the Bureau and the availability of technical facilities. Secretary Christ clarified that a remote participant would be able to listen in any UN language, but would only be able to speak in English in these circumstances. Belgium requested clarification on when the agreement of the Bureau would be needed. Australia suggested that the decision be amended to state that such arrangements should be made prior to the commencement of the meeting. The Panel adopted language stating: “such arrangements will be subject to agreement by the Bureau in advance of the meeting, and availability of technical facilities.”
Implementation of Panel Decisions on Governance and Management: On Tuesday, IPCC Chair Pachauri reported on progress and informed the Panel that he is providing input to recruitment processes, preparation of the annual job plans and performance appraisals of the IPCC Secretary and Deputy Secretary.
Other Procedural Matters: On Wednesday morning, IPCC Chair Pachauri introduced a document on a Suggested Erratum Statement (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.25) concerning the AR4 WGIII report. WGIII Co-Chair Edenhofer explained that the labeling of the x-axis of figure SPM.11 in the AR4 SYR is not consistent with the content of AR4 SYR table SPM.6, and that this error is subsequently reflected in various places in AR4, and outlined the steps that have been taken under the IPCC Protocol for Addressing Possible Errors in IPCC Assessment Reports, Synthesis Reports, Special Reports or Methodology Reports. He also presented draft erratum statements for adoption by the Panel to make explicit that aerosols were taken into account in the assessment. The Panel approved the erratum statements.
On Tuesday, IPCC Chair Pachauri introduced a document considering a potential study of the IPCC process (IPCC-XXXVII/Doc.17), noting criteria for such studies, including the credibility of the researchers, non-disturbance of the IPCC process and opportunities for a Panel response. All participants taking the floor underscored the value of transparency and openness. Many also urged caution in responding before having greater clarity on criteria and procedures. New Zealand said individual scientists must consent to such reviews and that the decision on the current proposal should be made by the Bureau in charge of the next assessment report. The Netherlands said such proposals should be considered on their merits and on a case-by-case basis. Canada, with India and Belgium, stated that principles setting out the parameters of studies should be set beforehand. South Africa welcomed the proposal, but, with Finland, stressed the need for including researchers from various regions.
WGI Vice-Chair Francis Zwiers said a study of how the IPCC authors do their work is not a review process of the IPCC and he worried about the precedent that might be set, stressing the need to be able to attract the best scientific experts to the IPCC. He was supported by WGI Co-Chair Qin Dahe, who urged caution and stressed the importance of understanding the IPCC processes and the need to avoid confusion. WGIII Vice-Chair Jim Skea emphasized the importance of any project meeting the gold standard in social science research, the need for the incorporation of multiple cultural perspectives in the project, and for an ethical review.
IPCC Chair Pachauri said the proposal would help to “demystify” the IPCC process and show the rigorousness followed by IPCC authors working in an assessment report. Noting established IPCC procedures, the US suggested that proponents work through an independent accredited observer organization. WGII Co-Chair Field highlighted value in encouraging transparency and suggested finding a way of allowing such a proposal without including a Panel decision. Australia called for considering the matter independently of a single academic proposal.
A small group, co-chaired by the UK and South Africa, was established to continue discussions and present an answer. On Wednesday morning, the UK reported that the small group had concluded that the issue of allowing external social science researchers to the study the work of the IPCC needs further discussion, and proposed that the Executive Committee hold an expert meeting in this regard to take place in 2014 and produce a report to inform the work of the Task Group considering the future of the IPCC.
CLOSING OF IPCC-37
Saudi Arabia expressed concerned that the session had been held over Eid Al-Adha, which is a UN holiday, and requested that future meetings must not overlap with official UN holidays. Norway and Belgium suggested that the Task Group commence its work immediately after the closing of IPCC-37 given the availability of participants and a venue. Secretary Christ noted that some participants had been required to leave the session early and that full attendance for the Task Group would not be possible. The session was closed at 5:40 pm on Thursday, 17 October.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF IPCC-37
Fresh from lengthy negotiations held in September 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden, which successfully concluded IPCC Working Group I’s (WGI) contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), the IPCC met again on the sunny Black Sea shores of Batumi, Georgia. The need to reconvene in order to complete two methodological reports by October 2013, as requested by the UNFCCC, turned into a bit of a respite on the busy road to completing its highly anticipated AR5 assessment. This break provided the IPCC with a chance to deal with housekeeping matters that are critical to maintaining the IPCC’s momentum over the coming months, and to look into the future of the IPCC’s work post-AR5. The smooth progress and the constructive tone of the session allowed participants to work through the agenda at a good pace and complete their work one day early.
This brief analysis puts IPCC-37 in the broader perspective of the AR5 approval process and the climate change negotiations. It also examines the important role of the newly adopted methodology reports and progress made in mapping out the future of the IPCC.
IPCC-37 IN THE CONTEXT OF THE FIFTH ASSESSMENT REPORT
The IPCC is in the midst of concluding its fifth assessment report, comprising contributions on the physical science of climate change (the WGI contribution that was adopted at IPCC-36), impacts, adaptation and vulnerability (the WGII contribution scheduled for adoption in March 2014), mitigating climate change (the WGIII contribution scheduled for adoption in April 2014), and the Synthesis Report (scheduled for adoption in October 2014). These reports will provide the scientific basis for the UNFCCC’s global climate change negotiations, including those on a new proposed agreement to be adopted in 2015.
With these significant events on the horizon, IPCC-37 set out to ensure that the organization has its house in order. In 2010, the InterAcademy Council (IAC) reviewed the IPCC’s structure, processes and operations. In response to the IAC’s report, the IPCC undertook a series of reforms. These included initiatives to ensure greater transparency, efficiency, outreach, and communications, as well as mechanisms to guard against conflicts of interest. Discussions at IPCC-37 focused on communications and outreach preparations, conflict of interest precautions, and progress in various areas of the IPCC’s work, giving participants’ confidence that the IPCC is ready for 2014. It also gave them assurance that the IPCC will be able to better withstand any accompanying scrutiny than it has in the past.
The session also addressed issues related to the greening of the IPCC, with discussions on reducing the organization’s carbon footprint and the application of the PaperSmart system relying on electronic documents for the meeting, showing that the IPCC practices what it preaches.
THE METHODOLOGY REPORTS: A KEY ELEMENT OF THE IPCC’S WORK
The IPCC’s work on guidelines and methodologies to assist UNFCCC parties in preparing national inventories to estimate and report on their GHG emissions and removals is a less well-known, yet crucial, aspect of the Panel.
GHG inventories are one of the most critical, if often over-looked, aspects of the multilateral climate regime. The fact that countries are able to agree on a common methodology to estimate their emissions and removals and report these in a common format that can then be compared and reviewed, and made public and easily accessible, is no small feat, given the vastly different circumstances and biophysical conditions of countries. This is only possible when scientists of recognized standing, working through a credible process, propose methods that countries can all agree on and then use to estimate and report their emissions and removals. IPCC provides for all this and, in Batumi, this process was again put to the test, with success.
At IPCC-37, two important methodology reports were adopted: the “2013 Supplement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Wetlands” (2013 Wetlands Supplement); and the “2013 Revised Supplementary Methods and Good Practice Guidance Arising from the Kyoto Protocol” (2013 KP LULUCF Supplement). The latter, in particular, was put together in a record time to abide by a request by the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol to have them ready for use in the second commitment period.
Although highly technical, methodology reports are politically significant for climate negotiations, as they constitute the operating manuals behind certain key decisions. The estimating methods in the 2013 KP LULUCF Supplement, for example, are a matter of real consequence, as the results affect compliance with targets under the Kyoto Protocol when used by countries in accounting their GHG emissions and removals. The smooth progress seen at this session can only be a sign that this process works: scientists, government representatives and other stakeholders worked together in an iterative manner and found ways of addressing particular concerns while being true to the current state of knowledge. This is a considerable foundation for any potential new global agreement to address climate change.
THE FUTURE OF THE IPCC
At this session, the work on mapping the IPCC’s future began with the setting up of a Task Group to work through 2015 to allow for a decision in time for the structuring of the next assessment cycle and electing the next Bureau. IPCC is thereby assessing its own work and products to improve on them and adapt to changing times, ensuring that the Panel remains policy-relevant. The level of engagement with the issue, as shown in countries’ submissions and statements at IPCC-37, is no doubt partly a sign that the IPCC feels stronger as a result of changes to its governance and procedures resulting from the IAC review in 2010. There appeared to be general agreement on the usefulness of the IPCC’s comprehensive assessments, but there were also suggestions on possible improvements, including more special reports and updates, and even the restructuring the IPCC’s WGs.
The focus of the discussions was constructive, characterized by a general effort at anticipating what information will be needed by countries in the coming years and in light of the possible adoption of a global climate change agreement in 2015. Calls to better integrate adaptation and mitigation, and improve on regional coverage, were all suggestions that are in line with ongoing discussions on the future needs of the UNFCCC process. Concrete ideas to materialize these efforts included proposals to change the structure of the three WGs—for example, having two groups instead of three: one dealing with the “problems” or mechanisms (climate science and impacts) and the other with the “solutions” (adaptation and mitigation).
How to increase the participation of developing countries in all areas of work and to ensure regional balance is a perennial issue at the IPCC and was again prominent in the discussions. Formal discussions on the IPCC’s future work provide an opportunity to augment efforts at tackling this issue through new or innovative means, including increased participation of developing countries in Technical Support Units (TSUs) or even the establishment of a new TSU in a developing country.
The continuing challenges of ensuring transparency, outreach and communication were also present. These are not easy items to address, as the need to be open must be balanced with the need to not disrupt the already complicated assessment process or overly impose on authors and others who work on the reports without compensation.
The fact that countries are committed to the IPCC was made evident when practically all countries present in plenary signed up to be active members of the Task Group on the future of the IPCC.
Following the meeting, as the sunny skies in Batumi turned to gray, participants foretold intense negotiations at IPCC-38 and 39 in Yokohama and Berlin, where politically charged topics in the WGII and III contributions will need to be sorted out. IPCC-37 has allowed the IPCC some respite and perhaps a certain level of confidence that it can meet these challenges and provide the scientific basis for a future global climate change agreement.
25th Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the Montreal Protocol: MOP 25 is scheduled to consider a number of issues, including nominations for critical- and essential-use exemptions and climate benefit of the accelerated phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons and phasing down hydrofluorocarbons. dates: 21-25 October 2013 location: Bangkok, Thailand contact: Ozone Secretariat phone: +254-20-762-3851 fax: +254-20-762-4691 email: email@example.com www: http://ozone.unep.org
19th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC: COP 19, CMP 9, ADP, and the Subsidiary Bodies of the UNFCCC (SBI and SBSTA) will convene in Warsaw, Poland. dates: 11-22 November 2013 location: Warsaw, Poland contact: UNFCCC Secretariat phone: +49-228-815-1000 fax: +49-228-815-1999 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://unfccc.int
International Conference on Climate Change, Water and Disaster in Mountainous Areas: This conference is organized by the Society of Hydrologists and Meteorologists (SOHAM-Nepal). dates: 27-29 November 2013 location: Kathmandu, Nepal contact: Mr. Deepak Paudel, SOHAM Nepal phone: +977-9841647398 email: email@example.com www: http://www.soham.org.np/pdf/international-conference.pdf
Seventh Session of the UN General Assembly’s Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals: OWG-7 is expected to discuss: sustainable cities and human settlements, sustainable transport; sustainable consumption and production (including chemicals and waste); and climate change and disaster risk reduction. dates: 6-10 January 2014 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development email:firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1549
IPCC WGII 10th Session and IPCC-38: IPCC WGII will meet for approval and acceptance of the WGII contribution to AR5. WGII assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it. Subsequently, IPCC-38 will convene to endorse the WGII contribution to AR5. dates: 25-29 March 2014 location: Yokohama, Japan contact: IPCC Secretariat phone: +41-22-730-8208 fax: +41-22-730-8025 email: IPCC-Sec@wmo.int www: http://www.ipcc.ch/
IPCC WGIII 12th Session and IPCC-39: IPCC WGIII will meet for approval and acceptance of the WGIII contribution to AR5. WGIII focuses on mitigation of climate change. Subsequently, IPCC-39 will convene to endorse the WGIII report. dates: 7-13 April 2014 location: Berlin, Germany contact: IPCC Secretariat phone: +41-22-730-8208 fax: +41-22-730-8025 email: IPCC-Sec@wmo.int www: http://www.ipcc.ch/
Third International Climate Change Adaptation Conference: The Conference titled “Adaptation Futures 2014” will connect the research community and users of climate change adaptation information at regional and global scales. dates: 12-16 May 2014 location: Fortaleza, Brazil contact: Provia Secretariat, UNEP email: email@example.com www: http://adaptationfutures2014.ccst.inpe.br/
UNFCCC 40th Sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies: SBI 40 and SBSTA 40 will convene in June 2014. dates: 4-15 June 2014 location: Bonn, Germany contact: UNFCCC Secretariat phone: +49-228-815-1000 fax: +49-228-815-1999 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://unfccc.int
CBD SBSTTA 18: At its 18th meeting, the CBD SBSTTA is expected to address, among other things, issues related to marine and coastal biodiversity, biodiversity and climate change, and the relationship with IPBES. dates: 23-27 June 2014 (tentative) location: Montreal, Canada (tentative) contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1-514-288-2220 fax: +1-514-288-6588 email: email@example.com www: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/
CBD COP 12: CBD COP 12 will engage in a mid-term review of the implementation of the Strategic Plan and the Aichi targets. The theme of the meeting will be “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development.” The Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety will take place immediately before COP 12. dates: 6-17 October 2014 location: Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1-514-288-2220 fax: +1-514-288-6588 email:firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://bch.cbd.int/protocol/e-doc/?notification=2036
2014 Climate Summit: This event is being organized by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with the aim to mobilize political will for an ambitious legal agreement through the UNFCCC process. date: 16 September 2014 (tentative) location: UN Headquarters, New York www: http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit2014/
IPCC-40: This IPCC meeting will be held to adopt the AR5 SYR and approve its SPM. dates: 27-31 October 2014 location: Copenhagen, Denmark contact: IPCC Secretariat phone: +41-22-730-8208 fax: +41-22-730-8025 email: IPCC-Sec@wmo.int www: http://www.ipcc.ch/
For additional meetings and updates, go to http://climate-l.iisd.org/.