The IPCC first assessment report was completed in 1990, and served as the basis of the UNFCCC.
The executive summary of the WG I Summary for Policymakers report says they are certain that emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the "greenhouse gases, resulting on average in an additional warming of the "Earth's surface. They calculate with confidence that CO2 has been responsible for over half the enhanced greenhouse effect. They predict that under a "business as usual" (BAU) scenario, global mean temperature will increase by about 0.3 °C per decade during the [21st] century. They judge that global mean surface air temperature has increased by 0.3 to 0.6 °C over the last 100 years, broadly consistent with prediction of climate models, but also of the same magnitude as natural climate variability. The unequivocal detection of the enhanced greenhouse effect is not likely for a decade or more.
Supplementary report of 1992
The 1992 supplementary report was an update, requested in the context of the negotiations on the UNFCCC at the "Earth Summit (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) in "Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
The major conclusion was that research since 1990 did "not affect our fundamental understanding of the science of the greenhouse effect and either confirm or do not justify alteration of the major conclusions of the first IPCC scientific assessment". It noted that transient (time-dependent) simulations, which had been very preliminary in the FAR, were now improved, but did not include aerosol or ozone changes.
Second assessment report
Climate Change 1995, the IPCC Second Assessment Report (SAR), was finished in 1996. It is split into four parts:
- A synthesis to help interpret UNFCCC article 2.
- The Science of Climate Change (WG I)
- Impacts, Adaptations and Mitigation of Climate Change (WG II)
- Economic and Social Dimensions of Climate Change (WG III)
Each of the last three parts was completed by a separate working group, and each has a Summary for Policymakers (SPM) that represents a consensus of national representatives. The SPM of the WG I report contains headings:
- Greenhouse gas concentrations have continued to increase
- Anthropogenic "aerosols tend to produce negative radiative forcings
- Climate has changed over the past century (air temperature has increased by between 0.3 and 0.6 °C since the late 19th century; this estimate has not significantly changed since the 1990 report).
- The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate (considerable progress since the 1990 report in distinguishing between natural and anthropogenic influences on climate, because of: including aerosols; coupled models; pattern-based studies)
- Climate is expected to continue to change in the future (increasing realism of simulations increases confidence; important uncertainties remain but are taken into account in the range of model projections)
- There are still many uncertainties (estimates of future emissions and biogeochemical cycling; models; instrument data for model testing, assessment of variability, and detection studies)
Third assessment report
The Third Assessment Report (TAR) was completed in 2001 and consists of four reports, three of them from its working groups:
- Working Group I: The Scientific Basis
- Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
- Working Group III: Mitigation
- Synthesis Report
A number of the TAR's conclusions are given quantitative estimates of how probable it is that they are correct, e.g., greater than 66% probability of being correct. These are ""Bayesian" probabilities, which are based on an expert assessment of all the available evidence.
"Robust findings" of the TAR Synthesis Report include:
- "Observations show Earth's surface is warming. Globally, 1990s very likely warmest decade in "instrumental record". Atmospheric concentrations of anthropogenic (i.e., human-emitted) "greenhouse gases have increased substantially.
- Since the mid-20th century, most of the observed warming is "likely" (greater than 66% probability, based on expert judgement) due to human activities.
- Projections based on the "Special Report on Emissions Scenarios suggest warming over the 21st century at a more rapid rate than that experienced for at least the last 10,000 years.
- "Projected climate change will have beneficial and adverse effects on both environmental and socio-economic systems, but the larger the changes and the rate of change in climate, the more the adverse effects predominate."
- ""Ecosystems and "species are vulnerable to climate change and other stresses (as illustrated by observed impacts of recent regional temperature changes) and some will be irreversibly damaged or lost."
- "Greenhouse gas emission reduction ("mitigation) actions would lessen the pressures on natural and human systems from climate change."
- ""Adaptation [to the effects of climate change] has the potential to reduce adverse "effects of climate change and can often produce immediate ancillary benefits, but will not prevent all damages." An example of adaptation to climate change is building "levees in response to "sea level rise.
Comments on the TAR
In 2001, 16 national "science academies issued a joint statement on climate change. The joint statement was made by the "Australian Academy of Science, the "Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts, the "Brazilian Academy of Sciences, the "Royal Society of Canada, the Caribbean Academy of Sciences, the "Chinese Academy of Sciences, the "French Academy of Sciences, the "German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, the "Indian National Science Academy, the Indonesian Academy of Sciences, the "Royal Irish Academy, "Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, the "Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, the "Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the "Royal Society (UK). The statement, also published as an editorial in the journal "Science, stated "we support the [TAR's] conclusion that it is at least 90% certain that temperatures will continue to rise, with average global surface temperature projected to increase by between 1.4 and 5.8 °C above 1990 levels by 2100". The TAR has also been endorsed by the "Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, "Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, and "European Geosciences Union (refer to ""Endorsements of the IPCC").
In 2001, the "US National Research Council (US NRC) produced a report that assessed Working Group I's (WGI) contribution to the TAR. US NRC (2001) "generally agrees" with the WGI assessment, and describes the full WGI report as an "admirable summary of research activities in climate science".
IPCC author "Richard Lindzen has made a number of criticisms of the TAR. Among his criticisms, Lindzen has stated that the WGI Summary for Policymakers (SPM) does not faithfully summarize the full WGI report. For example, Lindzen states that the SPM understates the uncertainty associated with "climate models. "John Houghton, who was a co-chair of TAR WGI, has responded to Lindzen's criticisms of the SPM. Houghton has stressed that the SPM is agreed upon by delegates from many of the world's governments, and that any changes to the SPM must be supported by scientific evidence.
IPCC author "Kevin Trenberth has also commented on the WGI SPM. Trenberth has stated that during the drafting of the WGI SPM, some government delegations attempted to "blunt, and perhaps obfuscate, the messages in the report". However, Trenberth concludes that the SPM is a "reasonably balanced summary".
US NRC (2001) concluded that the WGI SPM and Technical Summary are "consistent" with the full WGI report. US NRC (2001) stated:
[...] the full [WGI] report is adequately summarized in the Technical Summary. The full WGI report and its Technical Summary are not specifically directed at policy. The Summary for Policymakers reflects less emphasis on communicating the basis for uncertainty and a stronger emphasis on areas of major concern associated with human-induced climate change. This change in emphasis appears to be the result of a summary process in which scientists work with policy makers on the document. Written responses from U.S. coordinating and lead scientific authors to the committee indicate, however, that (a) no changes were made without the consent of the convening lead authors (this group represents a fraction of the lead and contributing authors) and (b) most changes that did occur lacked significant impact.
Fourth assessment report
The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) was published in 2007. Like previous assessment reports, it consists of four reports:
- Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis
- Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
- Working Group III: Mitigation
- Synthesis Report
People from over 130 countries contributed to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, which took 6 years to produce. Contributors to AR4 included more than 2500 scientific expert reviewers, more than 800 contributing authors, and more than 450 lead authors.
"Robust findings" of the Synthesis report include:
- "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level".
- Most of the global average warming over the past 50 years is "very likely" (greater than 90% probability, based on expert judgement) due to human activities.
- "Impacts [of climate change] will very likely increase due to increased frequencies and intensities of some extreme weather events".
- "Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries even if GHG emissions were to be reduced sufficiently for GHG concentrations to stabilise, due to the time scales associated with climate processes and feedbacks". Stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations is discussed in "climate change mitigation.
- "Some planned adaptation (of human activities) is occurring now; more extensive adaptation is required to reduce vulnerability to climate change".
- "Unmitigated climate change would, in the long term, be likely to exceed the capacity of natural, managed and human systems to adapt".
- "Many impacts [of climate change] can be reduced, delayed or avoided by mitigation".
Global warming projections from AR4 are shown below. The projections apply to the end of the 21st century (2090–99), relative to temperatures at the end of the 20th century (1980–99). Add 0.7 °C to projections to make them relative to pre-industrial levels instead of 1980–99. Descriptions of the greenhouse gas emissions scenarios can be found in "Special Report on Emissions Scenarios.
|B1||1.8||1.1 – 2.9|
|A1T||2.4||1.4 – 3.8|
|B2||2.4||1.4 – 3.8|
|A1B||2.8||1.7 – 4.4|
|A2||3.4||2.0 – 5.4|
|A1FI||4.0||2.4 – 6.4|
"Likely" means greater than 66% probability of being correct, based on expert judgement.
Response to AR4
Several "science academies have referred to and/or reiterated some of the conclusions of AR4. These include:
- Joint-statements made in 2007, 2008 and 2009 by the science academies of Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa and the "G8 nations (the "G8+5").
- Publications by the "Australian Academy of Science.
- A joint-statement made in 2007 by the "Network of African Science Academies.
- A statement made in 2010 by the Inter Academy Medical Panel This statement has been signed by 43 scientific academies.[a]
The "Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL, et al., 2009; 2010) has carried out two reviews of AR4. These reviews are generally supportive of AR4's conclusions. PBL (2010) make some recommendations to improve the IPCC process. A literature assessment by the US National Research Council (US NRC, 2010) concludes:
Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for—and in many cases is already affecting—a broad range of human and natural systems [emphasis in original text]. [...] This conclusion is based on a substantial array of scientific evidence, including recent work, and is consistent with the conclusions of recent assessments by the U.S. Global Change Research Program [...], the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report [...], and other assessments of the state of scientific knowledge on climate change.
Some errors have been found in the IPCC AR4 Working Group II report. Two errors include the melting of "Himalayan "glaciers (see "later section), and Dutch land area that is below sea level.
Fifth assessment report
The IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) was completed in 2014. AR5 followed the same general format as of AR4, with three Working Group reports and a Synthesis report. The Working Group I report (WG1) was published in September 2013.
Conclusions of AR5 are summarized below:
- Working Group I
- "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia".
- "Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years".
- Human influence on the climate system is clear. It is extremely likely (95-100% probability) that human influence was the dominant cause of global warming between 1951-2010.
- Working Group II
- "Increasing magnitudes of [global] warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts"
- "A first step towards adaptation to future climate change is reducing vulnerability and exposure to present climate variability"
- "The overall risks of climate change impacts can be reduced by limiting the rate and magnitude of climate change"
- Working Group III
- Without new policies to mitigate climate change, projections suggest an increase in global mean temperature in 2100 of "3.7 to 4.8 °C, relative to pre-industrial levels ("median values; the range is 2.5 to 7.8 °C including climate uncertainty).
- The current trajectory of global greenhouse gas emissions is not consistent with limiting global warming to below 1.5 or 2 °C, relative to pre-industrial levels. Pledges made as part of the "Cancún Agreements are broadly consistent with cost-effective scenarios that give a "likely" chance (66-100% probability) of limiting global warming (in 2100) to below 3 °C, relative to pre-industrial levels.
Representative Concentration Pathways
Projections in AR5 are based on ""Representative Concentration Pathways" (RCPs). The RCPs are consistent with a wide range of possible changes in future anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Projected changes in global mean surface temperature and sea level are given in the main "RCP article.
In addition to climate assessment reports, the IPCC is publishing Special Reports on specific topics. The preparation and approval process for all IPCC Special Reports follows the same procedures as for IPCC Assessment Reports. In the year 2011 two IPCC Special Report were finalized, the Special Report on "Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) and the Special Report on Managing Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). Both Special Reports were requested by governments.
Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES)
The "Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) is a report by the IPCC which was published in 2000. The SRES contains ""scenarios" of future changes in emissions of greenhouse gases and "sulfur dioxide. One of the uses of the SRES scenarios is to project future changes in climate, e.g., changes in global mean temperature. The SRES scenarios were used in the IPCC's Third and Fourth Assessment Reports.
The SRES scenarios are "baseline" (or "reference") scenarios, which means that they do not take into account any current or future measures to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (e.g., the "Kyoto Protocol to the "United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). SRES emissions projections are broadly comparable in range to the baseline projections that have been developed by the scientific community.
Comments on the SRES
There have been a number of comments on the SRES. Parson et al. (2007) stated that the SRES represented "a substantial advance from prior scenarios". At the same time, there have been criticisms of the SRES.
The most prominently publicized criticism of SRES focused on the fact that all but one of the participating models compared gross domestic product (GDP) across regions using "market exchange rates (MER), instead of the more correct "purchasing-power parity (PPP) approach. This criticism is discussed in the "main SRES article.
Special report on renewable energy sources and climate change mitigation (SRREN)
This report assesses existing literature on "renewable energy commercialisation for the mitigation of climate change. It was published in 2012 and covers the six most important renewable energy technologies, as well as their integration into present and future energy systems. It also takes into consideration the environmental and social consequences associated with these technologies, the cost and strategies to overcome technical as well as non-technical obstacles to their application and diffusion. The full report in PDF form is found here: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/srren/SRREN_Full_Report.pdf
More than 130 authors from all over the world contributed to the preparation of IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) on a voluntary basis – not to mention more than 100 scientists, who served as contributing authors.
Special Report on managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation (SREX)
The report was published in 2012. It assesses the effect that climate change has on the threat of natural disasters and how nations can better manage an expected change in the frequency of occurrence and intensity of severe weather patterns. It aims to become a resource for decision-makers to prepare more effectively for managing the risks of these events. A potentially important area for consideration is also the detection of trends in extreme events and the attribution of these trends to human influence. The full report, 594 pages, in PDF form may be found here: 
More than 80 authors, 19 review editors, and more than 100 contributing authors from all over the world contributed to the preparation of SREX.
Within IPCC the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Program develops methodologies to estimate emissions of "greenhouse gases. This has been undertaken since 1991 by the IPCC WGI in close collaboration with the "Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the "International Energy Agency. The objectives of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Program are:
- 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 widespread use of this methodology by countries participating in the IPCC and by signatories of the UNFCCC.
Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories
The 1996 Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Investories provide the methodological basis for the estimation of national greenhouse gas "emissions inventories. Over time these guidelines have been completed with good practice reports: Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry.
The 1996 guidelines and the two good practice reports are to be used by parties to the UNFCCC and to the "Kyoto Protocol in their annual submissions of national greenhouse gas inventories.
2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories
The 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories is the latest version of these emission estimation methodologies, including a large number of default emission factors.["clarification needed] Although the IPCC prepared this new version of the guidelines on request of the parties to the UNFCCC, the methods have not yet been officially accepted for use in national greenhouse gas emissions reporting under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.
The IPCC concentrates its activities on the tasks allotted to it by the relevant WMO Executive Council and UNEP Governing Council resolutions and decisions as well as on actions in support of the UNFCCC process. While the preparation of the assessment reports is a major IPCC function, it also supports other activities, such as the Data Distribution Centre and the National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme, required under the UNFCCC. This involves publishing default "emission factors, which are factors used to derive emissions estimates based on the levels of fuel consumption, industrial production and so on.
The IPCC also often answers inquiries from the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).
Nobel Peace Prize
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In December 2007, the IPCC was awarded the "Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change". The award is shared with Former U.S. Vice-President "Al Gore for his work on climate change and the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth.
There is "widespread support for the IPCC in the "scientific community, which is reflected in publications by other scientific bodies and experts. However, criticisms of the IPCC have been made.
Since 2010 the IPCC has come under yet unparalleled public and political scrutiny. The global IPCC consensus approach has been challenged internally and externally with the 2009 "Climatic Research Unit email controversy ("Climategate") an important (but not sole) threshold. It has been deemed an "information monopoly with results for both the quality and the impact of the IPCC work as such.
Projected date of melting of Himalayan glaciers
A paragraph in the 2007 Working Group II report ("Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability"), chapter 10 included a projection that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035
- Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world (see Table 10.9) and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).
This projection was not included in the final summary for policymakers. The IPCC has since acknowledged that the date is incorrect, while reaffirming that the conclusion in the final summary was robust. They expressed regret for "the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance". The date of 2035 has been correctly quoted by the IPCC from the WWF report, which has misquoted its own source, an ICSI report "Variations of Snow and Ice in the past and at present on a Global and Regional Scale".
"Rajendra K. Pachauri responded in an interview with Science.
Former IPCC chairman "Robert Watson has said "The mistakes all appear to have gone in the direction of making it seem like climate change is more serious by overstating the impact. That is worrying. The IPCC needs to look at this trend in the errors and ask why it happened". Martin Parry, a climate expert who had been co-chair of the IPCC working group II, said that "What began with a single unfortunate error over Himalayan glaciers has become a clamour without substance" and the IPCC had investigated the other alleged mistakes, which were "generally unfounded and also marginal to the assessment".
Emphasis of the "hockey stick" graph
The "third assessment report (TAR) prominently featured a graph labeled "Millennial Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction" based on a 1999 paper by "Michael E. Mann, "Raymond S. Bradley and Malcolm K. Hughes (MBH99), which has been referred to as the ""hockey stick graph". This graph extended the similar graph in Figure 3.20 from the "IPCC Second Assessment Report of 1995, and differed from a schematic in the "first assessment report that lacked temperature units, but appeared to depict larger global temperature variations over the past 1000 years, and higher temperatures during the "Medieval Warm Period than the mid 20th century. The schematic was not an actual plot of data, and was based on a diagram of temperatures in central England, with temperatures increased on the basis of documentary evidence of Medieval "vineyards in England. Even with this increase, the maximum it showed for the Medieval Warm Period did not reach temperatures recorded in central England in 2007. The MBH99 finding was supported by cited reconstructions by Jones et al. 1998, Pollack, Huang & Shen 1998, Crowley & Lowery 2000 and Briffa 2000, using differing data and methods. The Jones et al. and Briffa reconstructions were overlaid with the MBH99 reconstruction in Figure 2.21 of the IPCC report.
These studies were widely presented as demonstrating that the current warming period is exceptional in comparison to temperatures between 1000 and 1900, and the MBH99 based graph featured in publicity. Even at the draft stage, this finding was disputed by contrarians: in May 2000 "Fred Singer's "Science and Environmental Policy Project held a press event on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., featuring comments on the graph "Wibjörn Karlén and Singer argued against the graph at a "United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing on 18 July 2000. Contrarian "John Lawrence Daly featured a modified version of the IPCC 1990 schematic, which he mis-identified as appearing in the IPCC 1995 report, and argued that "Overturning its own previous view in the 1995 report, the IPCC presented the 'Hockey Stick' as the new orthodoxy with hardly an apology or explanation for the abrupt U-turn since its 1995 report". Criticism of the MBH99 reconstruction in a review paper, which was quickly discredited in the "Soon and Baliunas controversy, was picked up by the Bush administration, and a Senate speech by US Republican senator "James Inhofe alleged that "manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people". The data and methodology used to produce the "hockey stick graph" was criticized in papers by "Stephen McIntyre and "Ross McKitrick, and in turn the criticisms in these papers were examined by other studies and comprehensively refuted by Wahl & Ammann 2007, which showed errors in the methods used by McIntyre and McKitrick.
On 23 June 2005, Rep. "Joe Barton, chairman of the "House Committee on Energy and Commerce wrote joint letters with "Ed Whitfield, chairman of the "Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations demanding full records on climate research, as well as personal information about their finances and careers, from Mann, Bradley and Hughes. "Sherwood Boehlert, chairman of the "House Science Committee, said this was a "misguided and illegitimate investigation" apparently aimed at intimidating scientists, and at his request the "U.S. National Academy of Sciences arranged for its "National Research Council to set up a special investigation. The National Research Council's report agreed that there were some statistical failings, but these had little effect on the graph, which was generally correct. In a 2006 letter to "Nature, Mann, Bradley, and Hughes pointed out that their original article had said that "more widespread high-resolution data are needed before more confident conclusions can be reached" and that the uncertainties were "the point of the article".
The "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) published in 2007 featured a graph showing 12 proxy based temperature reconstructions, including the three highlighted in the 2001 Third Assessment Report (TAR); Mann, Bradley & Hughes 1999 as before, Jones et al. 1998 and Briffa 2000 had both been calibrated by newer studies. In addition, analysis of the "Medieval Warm Period cited reconstructions by Crowley & Lowery 2000 (as cited in the TAR) and Osborn & Briffa 2006. Ten of these 14 reconstructions covered 1,000 years or longer. Most reconstructions shared some data series, particularly tree ring data, but newer reconstructions used additional data and covered a wider area, using a variety of statistical methods. The section discussed the "divergence problem affecting certain tree ring data.
Conservative nature of IPCC reports
Some critics have contended that the IPCC reports tend to underestimate dangers, understate risks, and report only the "lowest common denominator" findings.
On 1 February 2007, the eve of the publication of IPCC's major report on climate, a study was published suggesting that temperatures and sea levels have been rising at or above the maximum rates proposed during the last IPCC report in 2001. The study compared IPCC 2001 projections on temperature and sea level change with observations. Over the six years studied, the actual temperature rise was near the top end of the range given by IPCC's 2001 projection, and the actual sea level rise was above the top of the range of the IPCC projection.
Another example of scientific research which suggests that previous estimates by the IPCC, far from overstating dangers and risks, have actually understated them is a study on projected rises in sea levels. When the researchers' analysis was "applied to the possible scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the researchers found that in 2100 sea levels would be 0.5–1.4 m [50–140 cm] above 1990 levels. These values are much greater than the 9–88 cm as projected by the IPCC itself in its Third Assessment Report, published in 2001". This may have been due, in part, to the expanding human understanding of climate.
In reporting criticism by some scientists that IPCC's then-impending January 2007 report understates certain risks, particularly sea level rises, an AP story quoted "Stefan Rahmstorf, professor of physics and oceanography at Potsdam University as saying "In a way, it is one of the strengths of the IPCC to be very conservative and cautious and not overstate any climate change risk".
In his December 2006 book, "Hell and High Water: Global Warming, and in an interview on "Fox News on 31 January 2007, energy expert "Joseph Romm noted that the "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report is already out of date and omits recent observations and factors contributing to global warming, such as the release of greenhouse gases from thawing tundra.
Political influence on the IPCC has been documented by the release of a memo by ExxonMobil to the Bush administration, and its effects on the IPCC's leadership. The memo led to strong Bush administration lobbying, evidently at the behest of ExxonMobil, to oust "Robert Watson, a climate scientist, from the IPCC chairmanship, and to have him replaced by Pachauri, who was seen at the time as more mild-mannered and industry-friendly.
"Michael Oppenheimer, a long-time participant in the IPCC and coordinating lead author of the Fifth Assessment Report conceded in "Science Magazine's State of the Planet 2008–2009 some limitations of the IPCC consensus approach and asks for concurring, smaller assessments of special problems instead of the large scale approach as in the previous IPCC assessment reports. It has become more important to provide a broader exploration of uncertainties. Others see as well mixed blessings of the drive for consensus within the IPCC process and ask to include dissenting or minority positions or to improve statements about uncertainties.
The IPCC process on climate change and its efficiency and success has been compared with dealings with other environmental challenges (compare "Ozone depletion and global warming). In case of the "Ozone depletion global regulation based on the "Montreal Protocol has been successful, in case of Climate Change, the "Kyoto Protocol failed. The Ozone case was used to assess the efficiency of the IPCC process. The lockstep situation of the IPCC is having built a broad science consensus while states and governments still follow different, if not opposing goals. The underlying linear model of policy-making of more knowledge we have, the better the political response will be is being doubted.
According to Sheldon Ungar's comparison with global warming, the actors in the ozone depletion case had a better understanding of scientific ignorance and uncertainties. The ozone case communicated to lay persons "with easy-to-understand bridging metaphors derived from the "popular culture" and related to "immediate risks with everyday relevance", while the "public opinion on climate change sees no imminent danger. The stepwise mitigation of the ozone layer challenge was based as well on successfully reducing regional burden sharing conflicts. In case of the IPCC conclusions and the failure of the Kyoto Protocol, varying regional cost-benefit analysis and burden-sharing conflicts with regard to the distribution of emission reductions remain an unsolved problem. In the UK, a report for a House of Lords committee asked to urge the IPCC to involve better assessments of costs and benefits of climate change but the "Stern Review ordered by the UK government made a stronger argument in favor to combat human-made climate change.
Outdatedness of reports
Since the IPCC does not carry out its own research, it operates on the basis of scientific papers and independently documented results from other scientific bodies, and its schedule for producing reports requires a deadline for submissions prior to the report's final release. In principle, this means that any significant new evidence or events that change our understanding of climate science between this deadline and publication of an IPCC report cannot be included. In an area of science where our scientific understanding is rapidly changing, this has been raised as a serious shortcoming in a body which is widely regarded as the ultimate authority on the science. However, there has generally been a steady evolution of key findings and levels of scientific confidence from one assessment report to the next.["citation needed]
The submission deadlines for the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) differed for the reports of each Working Group. Deadlines for the Working Group I report were adjusted during the drafting and review process in order to ensure that reviewers had access to unpublished material being cited by the authors. The final deadline for cited publications was 24 July 2006. The final WG I report was released on 30 April 2007 and the final AR4 Synthesis Report was released on 17 November 2007.
"Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chair, admitted at the launch of this report that since the IPCC began work on it, scientists have recorded "much stronger trends in climate change", like the unforeseen dramatic melting of polar ice in the summer of 2007, and added, "that means you better start with intervention much earlier".
Burden on participating scientists
Scientists who participate in the IPCC assessment process do so without any compensation other than the normal salaries they receive from their home institutions. The process is labor-intensive, diverting time and resources from participating scientists' research programs. Concerns have been raised that the large uncompensated time commitment and disruption to their own research may discourage qualified scientists from participating.
In May 2010, Pachauri noted that the IPCC currently had no process for responding to errors or flaws once it issued a report. The problem, according to Pachauri, was that once a report was issued the panels of scientists producing the reports were disbanded.
Proposed organizational overhaul
In February 2010, in response to controversies regarding claims in the "Fourth Assessment Report, five climate scientists – all contributing or lead IPCC report authors – wrote in the journal "Nature calling for changes to the IPCC. They suggested a range of new organizational options, from tightening the selection of lead authors and contributors, to dumping it in favor of a small permanent body, or even turning the whole climate science assessment process into a "moderated "living" Wikipedia-IPCC. Other recommendations included that the panel employ a full-time staff and remove government oversight from its processes to avoid political interference.
InterAcademy Council review
In March 2010, at the invitation of the United Nations secretary-general and the chair of the IPCC, the "InterAcademy Council (IAC) was asked to review the IPCC's processes for developing its reports. The IAC panel, chaired by "Harold Tafler Shapiro, convened on 14 May 2010 and released its report on 1 September 2010.
The IAC found that, "The IPCC assessment process has been successful overall". The panel, however, made seven formal recommendations for improving the IPCC's assessment process, including:
- establish an executive committee;
- elect an executive director whose term would only last for one assessment;
- encourage review editors to ensure that all reviewer comments are adequately considered and genuine controversies are adequately reflected in the assessment reports;
- adopt a better process for responding to reviewer comments;
- working groups should use a qualitative level-of-understanding scale in the Summary for Policy Makers and Technical Summary;
- "Quantitative probabilities (as in the likelihood scale) should be used to describe the probability of well-defined outcomes only when there is sufficient evidence"; and
- implement a communications plan that emphasizes transparency and establish guidelines for who can speak on behalf of the organization.
The panel also advised that the IPCC avoid appearing to advocate specific policies in response to its scientific conclusions. Commenting on the IAC report, Nature News noted that "The proposals were met with a largely favourable response from climate researchers who are eager to move on after the media scandals and credibility challenges that have rocked the United Nations body during the past nine months".
Papers and electronic files of certain working groups of the IPCC, including reviews and comments on drafts of their Assessment Reports, are archived at the Environmental Science and Public Policy Archives in the Harvard Library.
Endorsements of the IPCC
Various scientific bodies have issued official statements endorsing and concurring with the findings of the IPCC.
- Joint "science academies' statement of 2001. "The work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) represents the "consensus of the international "scientific community on climate change science. We recognise IPCC as the world's most reliable source of information on climate change and its causes, and we endorse its method of achieving this consensus".
- "Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences. "We concur with the climate science assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001 ... We endorse the conclusions of the IPCC assessment..."
- "Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society. "CMOS endorses the process of periodic climate science assessment carried out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and supports the conclusion, in its "Third Assessment Report, which states that the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate."["clarification needed]
- "European Geosciences Union. "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [...] is the main representative of the global scientific community [...][The] IPCC third assessment report [...] represents the state-of-the-art of climate science supported by the major science academies around the world and by the vast majority of scientific researchers and investigations as documented by the peer-reviewed scientific literature".
- "International Council for Science. "...the "IPCC 4th Assessment Report represents the most comprehensive international scientific assessment ever conducted. This assessment reflects the current collective knowledge on the climate system, its evolution to date, and its anticipated future development".
- "National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USA). "Internationally, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)... is the most senior and authoritative body providing scientific advice to global policy makers".
- "United States National Research Council. "The "IPCC Third Assessment Report'] conclusion that most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific community on this issue".
- "Network of African Science Academies. "The IPCC should be congratulated for the contribution it has made to public understanding of the nexus that exists between energy, climate and sustainability".
- "Royal Meteorological Society, in response to the release of the "Fourth Assessment Report, referred to the IPCC as "The world's best climate scientists".
- Stratigraphy Commission of the "Geological Society of London. "The most authoritative assessment of climate change in the near future is provided by the Inter-Governmental Panel for Climate Change".
- "4 Degrees and Beyond International Climate Conference
- "Avoiding dangerous climate change
- "Indian Network on Climate Change Assessment
- "Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
- "List of authors from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis
- "Post–Kyoto Protocol negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions
- "Robust decision making
- Academia Nacional de Medicina de Buenos Aires
- Academy of Medical Sciences of Armenia
- Austrian Academy of Sciences
- Bangladesh Academy of Sciences
- Academia Boliviana de Medicina
- Brazilian Academy of Sciences
- Cameroon Academy of Sciences
- Chinese Academy of Engineering
- Academia Nacional de Medicina de Colombia
- Croatian Academy of Medical Sciences
- Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
- Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt
- Académie Nationale de Médecine, France
- The Delegation of the Finnish Academies of Science and Letters
- Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities
- Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher, Leopoldina
- Academia de Ciencias Medicas, Fisicas y Naturales de Guatemala
- Hungarian Academy of Sciences
- Indonesian Academy of Sciences
- Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei
- TWAS, academy of sciences for the developing world
- Islamic World Academy of Sciences
- Science Council of Japan
- African Academy of Sciences
- Kenya National Academy of Sciences
- The National Academy of Sciences, Rep. of Korea
- Akademi Sains Malaysia
- National Academy of Medicine of Mexico
- Nigerian Academy of Science
- National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines
- Polish Academy of Sciences
- The Caribbean Academy of Sciences
- Russian Academy of Medical Sciences
- Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
- Academy of Science of South Africa
- National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka
- Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
- The Tanzania Academy of Sciences
- Thai Academy of Science and Technology
- Turkish Academy of Sciences
- Uganda National Academy Sciences
- Academy of Medical Sciences, UK
- Institute of Medicine, US NAS
- "Organization". Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
- "A guide to facts and fictions about climate change" (PDF). "The Royal Society. March 2005. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
- "Weart, Spencer (December 2011). "International Cooperation: Democracy and Policy Advice (1980s)". "The Discovery of Global Warming. "American Institute of Physics. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- "A guide to facts and fiction about climate change". "The Royal Society. March 2005. Retrieved 24 July 2007.
- Introduction to the Convention, UNFCCC, Archived from the original on 8 January 2014, retrieved 27 January 2014 .
- "Principles governing IPCC work" (PDF). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 28 April 2006.
- Chapter 2: Evaluation of IPCC's Assessment Processes, in IAC 2010, p. 16. Archived file.
- "Understanding Climate Change: 22 years of IPCC assessment" (PDF). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). November 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
- Sample, Ian (2 February 2007). "Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study". London: Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2007.
"Lord Rees of Ludlow, the president of the "Royal Society, Britain's most prestigious scientific institute, said: "The IPCC is the world's leading authority on climate change..."
- "The Nobel Peace Prize for 2007". Nobelprize.org. 12 October 2007. Archived from the original on 5 February 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- IPCC. "Principles Governing IPCC Work" (PDF).. Approved 1–3 October 1998, last amended 14–18 October 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
- "IPCC: Who are they? Why are they important? - Follow Green Living". Follow Green Living. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
- "IPCC press release: IPCC agrees on Acting Chair after R.K. Pachauri steps down" (PDF). IPCC. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- "16 Years of Scientific Assessment in Support of the Climate Convention" (PDF).
- IPCC. Official documents. Retrieved December 2006. web archive, 21 February 2010 Archived 8 November 2007 at the "Wayback Machine.
- IPCC. "Report on the Twentieth Session of the IPCC" (PDF). (379 KB). 19 February 2006. Retrieved 20 December 2006. Web archive pdf file damaged 20`0-02-21 Archived 31 October 2007 at the "Wayback Machine.
- IPCC. "Twentieth Session" (PDF). (127 KB). 19 February 2006. Retrieved 20 December 2006.
- "IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change". www.ipcc.ch. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
- "IPCC Bureau for the 6th assessment cycle, as elected in October 2015". IPCC. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- "New Bureau Members". Archived from the original on 2015-10-27. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
- "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Principles and Procedures". IPCC. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2016.; Appendix B, Financial Procedures for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
- "The IPCC: Who Are They and Why Do Their Climate Reports Matter?". Union of Concerned Scientists. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- ITGP 2010, pp. 6–7
- IPCC. Mandate and Membership of IPCC. Retrieved 20 December 2006. Web archive 21 February 2010 Archived 13 November 2007 at the "Wayback Machine.
- "Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work" (PDF). April 1999. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
- e.g., Barker, T. (28 February 2005). "House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs Minutes of Evidence. Memorandum by Dr Terry Baker, Cambridge University", in Economic Affairs Committee 2005
- e.g., Economic Affairs Committee. "Abstract", in Economic Affairs Committee 2005
- e.g., Interacademy Council (1 October 2010). "Executive summary". Climate Change Assessments, Review of the Processes & Procedures of the IPCC. "ISBN "978-90-6984-617-0. Report website.
- Working Group 1, IPCC.
- Working Group 2, IPCC.
- Working Group 3, IPCC.
- Synthesis Report, IPCC.
- "Question 2", Box 2-1: Confidence and likelihood statements, in IPCC TAR SYR 2001, p. 44
- Ahmad, Q.K.; et al., "Ch 2: Methods and Tools", Sec. 2.6.2. "Objective" and "Subjective" Probabilities are not Always Explicitly Distinguished, in IPCC TAR WG2 2001.
- Granger Morgan, M.; et al. (2009), Synthesis and Assessment Product 5.2: Best practice approaches for characterizing, communicating, and incorporating scientific uncertainty in decisionmaking. A Report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research (PDF), Washington D.C., USA.: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, pp.19–20; 27–28. Report website.
- "Summary for Policymakers", Table SPM-3, Question 9, in IPCC TAR SYR 2001.
- Nicholls, R.J.; et al., "Ch 6: Coastal Systems and Low-Lying Areas", Table 6.11, in IPCC AR4 WG2 2007, p. 343
- Joint statement by 16 national science academies (17 May 2001), The Science of Climate Change (PDF), London, UK: Royal Society, "ISBN "0854035583, archived from the original (PDF) on 19 April 2015
- "The Science of Climate Change (editorial)", Science, 292 (5520): 1261, 18 May 2001, "doi:10.1126/science.292.5520.1261
- CFCAS Letter to PM, November 25, 2005 Archived 21 August 2010 at the "Wayback Machine.
- Bob Jones. "CMOS Position Statement on Global Warming". Cmos.ca. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- European Geosciences Union Divisions of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences (7 July 2005). "Position Statement on Climate Change and Recent Letters from the Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce".
- US NRC 2001
- Summary, in US NRC 2001, p. 1
- Summary, in US NRC 2001, p. 4
- Lindzen, R.S. (1 May 2001), PREPARED STATEMENT OF DR. RICHARD S. LINDZEN, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, in: S. Hrg. 107-1027 – INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC) THIRD ASSESSMENT REPORT. US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office (GPO), pp.29–31. Available in text and PDF formats. Also available as a PDF from Professor Lindzen's website.
- Preface, in IPCC TAR WG1 2001
- The Great Global Warming Swindle. Programme directed by Martin Durkin, on Channel 4 on Thursday 8 March 2007. Critique by John Houghton, President, John Ray Initiative (PDF), Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK: John Ray Initiative, p.4.
- Trenberth K. E. (May 2001), "Stronger Evidence of Human Influence on Climate: The 2001 IPCC Assessment" (PDF), Environment, Heldref, 43 (4), p.11.
- Ch 7 Assessing Progress in Climate Science, in US NRC 2001, p. 22
- Press flyer announcing 2007 report IPCC
- "Synthesis Report - Question 9". www.ipcc.ch. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- "Synthesis report", Sec 6.1. Observed changes in climate and their effects, and their causes, in IPCC AR4 SYR 2007
- "Synthesis report", Treatment of uncertainty, in: Introduction, in IPCC AR4 SYR 2007
- "Synthesis report", Sec 6.2 Drivers and projections of future climate changes and their impacts, in IPCC AR4 SYR 2007
- "Synthesis report", Sec 6.3 Responses to climate change, in IPCC AR4 SYR 2007
- "Summary for Policymakers", 3. Projected climate change and its impacts, in IPCC AR4 SYR 2007
- Future climate change, in UK Royal Society 2010, p. 10
- Academia Brasileira de Ciéncias & others 2007
- Academia Brasileira de Ciéncias & others 2008
- Academia Brasileira de Ciéncias & others 2009
- NASAC 2007
- IAMP 2010
- PBL & others 2009
- PBL 2010
- Summary, in PBL & others 2009, p. 7
- Executive summary, in PBL 2010, p. 9
- Summary, p.3, in US NRC 2010
- Section 3.2: Errors, in: Chapter 3: Results and discussion, in PBL 2010, pp. 35–37
- IPCC 2013
- IPCC (11 November 2013): B. Observed Changes in the Climate System, in: Summary for Policymakers (finalized version), in: IPCC AR5 WG1 2013, p. 2
- IPCC (11 November 2013): B.5 Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles, in: Summary for Policymakers (finalized version), in: IPCC AR5 WG1 2013, p. 9
- IPCC (11 November 2013): D. Understanding the Climate System and its Recent Changes, in: Summary for Policymakers (finalized version), in: IPCC AR5 WG1 2013, p. 13
- IPCC (11 November 2013): Footnote 2, in: Summary for Policymakers (finalized version), in: IPCC AR5 WG1 2013, p. 2
- Summary for Policymakers, p.14 (archived 25 June 2014), in IPCC AR5 WG2 A 2014
- Summary for Policymakers, p.23 (archived 25 June 2014), in IPCC AR5 WG2 A 2014
- SPM.3 Trends in stocks and flows of greenhouse gases and their drivers, in: Summary for Policymakers, p.8 (archived 2 July 2014), in IPCC AR5 WG3 2014
- Victor, D., et al., Executive summary, in: Chapter 1: Introductory Chapter, p.4 (archived 3 July 2014), in IPCC AR5 WG3 2014
- SPM.4.1 Long‐term mitigation pathways, in: Summary for Policymakers, p.15 (archived 2 July 2014), in IPCC AR5 WG3 2014
- Collins, M., et al.: Section 184.108.40.206 The New Concentration Driven RCP Scenarios, and their Extensions, in: Chapter 12: Long-term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments and Irreversibility (archived 16 July 2014), in: IPCC AR5 WG1 2013, pp. 1045–1047
- "IPCC – Activities". Ipcc.ch. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- IPCC SRES 2000
- Summary for Policymakers, in IPCC SRES 2000, p. 3
- "Summary for Policymakers", Question 3, in IPCC TAR SYR 2001
- "Summary for Policymakers", 3. Projected climate change and its impacts, in IPCC AR4 SYR 2007
- Morita, T.; et al., "Ch 2. Greenhouse Gas Emission Mitigation Scenarios and Implications", 220.127.116.11 IPCC Emissions Scenarios and the SRES Process, in IPCC TAR WG3 2001
- "Synthesis report", 3.1 Emissions scenarios, in IPCC AR4 SYR 2007
- "Ch 3. Review of Major Climate-Change Scenario Exercises", Sec 3.1.1. Significance and use (PDF), in Parson & others 2007, p. 31
- "Ch 3. Review of Major Climate-Change Scenario Exercises", Sec 3.1.2. Criticisms and controversies (PDF), in Parson & others 2007, pp. 35–38
- "Ch 3. Review of Major Climate-Change Scenario Exercises", Sec 3.1.2. Criticisms and controversies: Exchange rates: PPP versus MER (PDF), in Parson & others 2007, p. 36
- "Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation – SRREN". Srren.ipcc-wg3.de. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- "IPCC". Ipcc-wg2.gov. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- "National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Program". Ipcc-nggip.iges.or.jp. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- "Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories". Ipcc-nggip.iges.or.jp. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
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- Yohe, G.W.; et al. "An Open Letter from Scientists in the United States on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Errors Contained in the Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007". Archived from the original on 15 March 2010.. Note: According to Yohe et al. (2010), more than 250 scientists have signed the statement.
- Chapter 1: Introduction, in IAC 2010, pp. 1–2. Archived file.
- Bagla, 2010; Schiermeier, 2010, quoted in Hulme 2010
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|Awards and achievements|
|"Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
with "Al Gore