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Home Environment Organisations The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

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IPCCThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. The UN General Assembly endorsed the action by WMO and UNEP in jointly establishing the IPCC.

The IPCC is a scientific body. It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters.

Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC on a voluntary basis. Review is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment of current information. IPCC aims to reflect a range of views and expertise. The Secretariat coordinates all the IPCC work and liaises with Governments. It is supported by WMO and UNEP and hosted at WMO headquarters in Geneva.

 The IPCC is an intergovernmental body. It is open to all member countries of the United Nations (UN) and WMO. Currently 194 countries are members of the IPCC. Governments participate in the review process and the plenary Sessions, where main decisions about the IPCC work programme are taken and reports are accepted, adopted and approved. The IPCC Bureau Members, including the Chair, are also elected during the plenary Sessions.

Because of its scientific and intergovernmental nature, the IPCC embodies a unique opportunity to provide rigorous and balanced scientific information to decision makers. By endorsing the IPCC reports, governments acknowledge the authority of their scientific content. The work of the organization is therefore policy-relevant and yet policy-neutral, never policy-prescriptive. 


How does the IPCC work?

The IPCC is a huge and yet very tiny organization. Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC on a voluntary basis as authors, contributors and reviewers. None of them is paid by the IPCC.

Their work is supported by a central IPCC Secretariat, whose role is to plan, coordinate and oversee all IPCC activities. The IPCC has a core staff of 10 people.

The IPCC is currently organized in 3 Working Groups and a Task Force. They are assisted by Technical Support Units (TSU), which are hosted and financially supported by the Government of the developed country co-chair of that Working Group/Task Force. Working Group I deals with "The Physical Science Basis of Climate Change", Working Group II with "Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability" and Working Group III with "Mitigation of Climate Change". Working Groups also meet at the Plenary at the level of Representatives of Governments. The main objective of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories is to develop and refine a methodology for the calculation and reporting of national GHG emissions and removals.

In addition to the Working Groups and Task Force, further Task Groups and Steering Groups may be established for a limited or longer duration to consider a specific topic or question.



  • Role of IPCC Focal points

    Each IPCC Member country has a Focal-point which has been identified by the relevant authorities in the country. In case no focal point has been identified, all correspondence is directed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For the list of IPCC Focal-Points, please see the following document (PDF)

    The Panel and the Plenary Sessions

  • The Panel meets in Plenary Sessions at the level of Government Representatives for all member countries. It meets approximately once a year at the plenary level. These Sessions are attended by hundreds of officials and experts from relevant Ministries, Agencies and Research Institutions from Member countries and from observer organizations. Major decisions are taken by the Panel during the Plenary Session. For example,

    1. the election of the IPCC Chair, IPCC Bureau and the Task Force Bureau;
    2. the structure and mandate of IPCC Working Groups and Task Forces
    3. IPCC Principles and Procedures,
    4. the work-plan of the IPCC
    5. Budget
    6. Scope and outline of IPCC reports
    7. Approval, Adoption and Acceptance of reports.


    The Bureau


    The Authors

    Authors, contributors, reviewers and other experts are selected by the Bureau of the Working Group from a list of nominations received from governments and participating organizations. They can also be directly identified by the Bureau for their expertise in a special area reflected in their publications and works. None of them is paid by the IPCC. The composition of lead author teams shall reflect a range of views, expertise and geographical representation.

    The Coordinating Lead Authors (CLAs) coordinate the content of the chapter they are responsible for. There are usually two CLAs per chapter, one from a developing country and one from a developed one. The Lead Authors (LAs) work in teams to produce the content of the chapter. Contributing Authors (CAs) provide more technical information on specific subjects covered by the chapter.


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