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General Studies 3 >> Enivornment & Ecology




1. Context

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is meeting in Switzerland this week to finalize the last report of its sixth assessment cycle, which is expected to set up the tempo for a string of climate change-focused discussions over the next fortnight. 

2. Synthesis Report

  • The IPCC, an UN-backed scientific body whose periodic assessments of climate science form the basis of global climate action, is set to finalize what is known as the Synthesis Report, incorporating the findings of the five reports that it has released in the sixth assessment cycle since 2018.
  • The Synthesis Report is supposed to be a relatively non-technical summary of the previous reports, aimed largely at policymakers around the world.
  • It is meant to address a wide range of policy-relevant scientific questions related to climate change, but, like all IPCC reports, in a non-prescriptive manner. 
  • This will bring an end to the Sixth Assessment Report, a collective work of thousands of scientists over a period of eight years, starting in February 2015.

3. Significance of the report

  • The Synthesis Report is unlikely to reveal anything new. Climate science is fairly well established, and its impacts are already visible.
  • As part of the sixth assessment cycle, the IPCC published three comprehensive reports- one on scientific evidence for climate change, the other on impacts and vulnerabilities, and the third exploring mitigation options available.
  • Besides these, special reports on the feasibility of keeping global temperature rise within the 1.5-degree celsius limit, and the connections between land, ocean, and cryosphere, were also released.
  • Together, these form the most comprehensive understanding of the earth's climate system, the changes it is undergoing, the repercussions of these changes, and the actions that should be taken to avoid the worst impacts.

4. The upcoming meetings

  • The release of the synthesis report on March 20 would be immediately followed by a ministerial-level meeting in Copenhagen.
  • This will discuss ways to implement the decisions taken at last year's climate meeting in Sharm el-sheikh, especially the one related to the creation of a new fund to help countries hit by climate-related disasters.
  • This meeting is aimed at building the atmosphere for more ambitious agreements at this year's climate conference, scheduled in Dubai towards the end of the year.
  • Later next week, the UN 2023 Water Conference will take place, with climate change as one of the most important agendas.
  • Two G-20 meetings around the climate change theme are also scheduled towards the end of this month, one in Udaipur, Rajasthan, and the other in Gandhinagar, Gujrat.

5. About IPCC

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.
  • IPCC was created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the objective of the IPCC is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies.
  • IPCC reports are also a key input into international climate change negotiations. The IPCC is an organisation of governments that are members of the United Nations or WMO.
  • The IPCC has currently 195 members. Thousands of people from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC.
  • For the assessment reports, experts volunteer their time as IPCC authors to assess the thousands of scientific papers published each year to provide a comprehensive summary of what is known about the drivers of climate change, its impacts, and future risks, and how adaptation and mitigation can reduce those risks.
  • An open and transparent review by experts and governments around the world is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment and to reflect a diverse range of views and expertise.
  • Through its assessments, the IPCC identifies the strength of scientific agreement in different areas and indicates where further research is needed. The IPCC does not conduct its own research.

6. Working Groups and Task Force of IPCC

  • The IPCC is divided into three working Groups and a 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 the Mitigation of Climate Change.
  • The main objective of the Taskforce on National greenhouse gas inventories is to develop and refine a methodology for the calculation and reporting of national greenhouse gas emissions and removals.
  • Alongside the working Groups and the Taskforce, other Task Groups may be established by the panel for a set time period to consider a specific topic or question.
  • One example is the decision at the 47th Session of the IPCC in Paris in March 2018 to establish a Task Group to improve gender balance and address gender-related issues within the IPCC.
  • That Task Group completed its work and their work was fundamental to the Panel Adoption and Gender Policy and Implementation Plan.

7. Structure of IPCC

Image Source: IPCC

8. The Reports by IPCC

Since the creation of the IPCC, each Assessment Report has fed directly into international climate policymaking.
  • In 1990, the First IPCC Assessment Report (FAR) underlined the importance of climate change as a challenge with global consequences and requiring international cooperation. It played a decisive role in the creation of the UNFCCC, the key international treaty to reduce global warming and cope with the consequences of climate change.
  • The Second Assessment Report (SAR) 1995 provided important material for governments to draw from in the run-up to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
  • The Third Assessment Report (TAR) 2001 focused attention on the impacts of climate change and the need for adaptation.
  • The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) 2007 laid the groundwork for a post-Kyoto agreement, focusing on limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
  • The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) was finalized between 2013 and 2014. It provided scientific input into the Paris Agreement. 
  • The IPCC is currently in its sixth Assessment cycle where it will prepare three special reports, a Methodology Report, and the Sixth Assessment Report.
  • The First of these Special Reports, Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15), was requested by world governments under the Paris Agreement.
  • In May 2019, the IPCC finalised the 2019 Refinement an update to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.
  • The Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL) will be finalized in August 2019 and the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) will be finalized in September 2019.
  • The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) is expected to be finalized in 2022 in time for the first global stocktake the following year.

9. Nobel Prize for IPCC

In 2007, the IPCC and U.S. Vice-President Al Gore were jointly 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 measure that are needed to counteract such things. The Prize was awarded at the end of the year which saw the IPCC bring out its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

Previous year Question

1. With reference to the 'Global Climate Change Alliance', which of the following statements is/are correct? (UPSC 2017)
1. It is an initiative of the European Union.
2. It provides technical and financial support to targeted developing countries to integrate climate change into their development policies and budgets.
3. It is coordinated by World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
A. 1 and 2 only            B. 3 only           C. 2 and 3 only              D. 1, 2 and 3
Answer: A
2. The IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. IPCC stands for: (RRB NTPC CBT 2 2022)
A. Intergovernmental Provision on Climate Change
B. International Panel on Climate Change
C. International Provision on Climate Change
D. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Answer: D

For Prelims & Mains

For Prelims: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Synthesis Report, United Nations (UN), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), G-20 meeting, UN 2023 Water Conference, First IPCC Assessment Report (FAR), Second Assessment Report (SAR) 1995, Third Assessment Report (TAR) 2001, Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) 2007,  Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL), Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement.
For Mains: 1. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. Discuss?
Source: The Indian Express and IPCC

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