IPCC Starts Meeting To Finalize Working Group I Report


Government representatives and scientists opened a meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Monday to finalize a report assessing the evidence for climate change and its causes. 


The meeting, the culmination of four years’ work by hundreds of experts who have volunteered their time and expertise to produce a comprehensive assessment, will approve the Summary for Policymakers of the first part of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, subjecting it to line-by-line scrutiny. It will also accept the full report, which includes a Technical Summary, 14 chapters and several annexes, including, for the first time, an Atlas of Global and Regional Climate Projections.

This first part of the report, produced by the IPCC’s Working Group I, deals with the physical science basis of climate change. Further contributions, by IPCC Working Group II dealing with the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability relating to climate change, and by Working Group III assessing the mitigation of climate change, will be finalized in March and April 2014 respectively. The Fifth Assessment Report will be completed by a Synthesis Report in October 2014.

“The scientific evidence for anthropogenic climate change has strengthened year by year, leaving fewer uncertainties about the serious consequences of inaction, despite the fact that there remain knowledge gaps and uncertainties in some areas of climate science,” said Qin Dahe, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.

The meeting, hosted by the Government of Sweden, runs from 23 to 26 September 2013. The Summary for Policymakers is due to be released on Friday 27 September. The full report will be released in unedited form on Monday 30 September. It will be published online in January 2014 and in book form shortly thereafter.

“Our assessment draws on millions of measurements which permit an unprecedented and unbiased view of the state of the Earth System. Millions of billions of bytes of numerical data form the foundation for estimates of possible futures of our climate. We have produced a Summary for Policymakers that presents the findings in the clearest possible manner, a document with no compromises to scientific accuracy.” said Thomas Stocker, the other Co-Chair of Working Group I.

The report builds on the four previous assessment reports produced by the IPCC since it was established in 1988, incorporating the scientific literature published since the last assessment report in 2007. Besides assessing the influence of human activity on the climate system, the report looks at projections of future climate change in both the near and long term.

A total of 259 authors and review editors were selected to produce the Working Group I report; they in turn enlisted the help of more than 600 contributing authors. Hundreds of expert reviewers provided comments to earlier drafts of the report, which draws on observations, model runs and cites more than 9,200 scientific publications. For the Fifth Assessment Report as a whole, a total of 831 authors and review editors were selected. 

Participation in the meeting is open to all the IPCC’s 195 member countries, whose representatives discuss the Summary for Policymakers in detail, in consultation with the scientists responsible for drafting it. This strengthens the Summary for Policymakers by ensuring that its statements are as direct, clear and unambiguous as possible in summarizing the material contained in the underlying report. The participation of assessment authors ensures that any changes to the Summary for Policymakers are consistent with the underlying report and are scientifically robust.