Earth Negotiations Bulletin

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 A Reporting Service for Environment and Development Negotiations

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Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Vol. 12 No. 165
Monday, 09 April 2001

SUMMARY OF THE SEVENTEENTH SESSION OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE: 4-6 APRIL 2001

The seventeenth session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was held from 4-6 April 2001, at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya. Over 200 delegates, experts and representatives of international and non-governmental organizations attended the session.

Participants met in plenary sessions throughout the three-day meeting. They accepted the actions of the three IPCC Working Groups with regard to adopting the three sections of the Third Assessment Report (TAR). They considered progress on the TAR Synthesis Report, and discussed the future of the IPCC in depth, focusing on key decisions, including:

  • whether the IPCC should be continued;

  • whether the IPCC should continue to prepare comprehensive assessments;

  • whether the comprehensive reports should be supplemented by shorter, more focused special reports on specific issues that integrate science, impacts, economics and policy options, as in the Synthesis Report;

  • whether the IPCC should continue to be responsive to the needs of the UNFCCC, or other environmental conventions (such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification) through the preparation of technical papers, special reports, or reports on methodological issues;

  • what the appropriate working group structure should be; and

  • what the appropriate size, structure and geographic representation of the IPCC Bureau might be.

Delegates also considered: activities related to land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF); the budget; the future role of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories; a report by the Task Force on Climate Scenarios for Impact Assessment; and the IPCC Communication Strategy.

On the final day of the meeting, participants agreed on a strategy for further review of the key decisions relating to the future of the IPCC, and accepted proposals for "scoping" activities for a technical report on the links between biological diversity and climate change, and for a report on sustainable development and climate change. The next IPCC plenary session will be held from 24-29 September 2001 in London, UK.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE IPCC

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was initiated in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The purpose of the IPCC is to assess the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant to understanding the risks associated with human-induced climate change. The IPCC does not undertake new research, nor does it monitor climate-related data, but bases its assessments on published and peer reviewed scientific and technical literature. Its Secretariat is located in Geneva and is staffed by both WMO and UNEP.

Since its inception, the IPCC has prepared a series of technical papers, special reports and comprehensive assessments, providing scientific information on climate change to the international community, including policy-makers and the general public. This information has played an important role in the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC was adopted in 1992 and entered into force in 1994. It provides the overall policy framework for addressing climate change.

The current structure of the IPCC includes three Working Groups and a Task Force.

  • Working Group I addresses the scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change.

  • Working Group II addresses the scientific, technical, environmental, economic and social aspects of the vulnerability (sensitivity and adaptability) to climate change, and the negative and positive consequences (impacts) for ecological systems, socio-economic sectors and human health, with an emphasis on regional sectoral and cross-sectoral issues.

  • Working Group III assesses the scientific, technical, environmental, economic and social aspects of the mitigation of climate change, as well as the methodological aspects of crosscutting issues.

  • The Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories manages the National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme.

The current Bureau of the IPCC was established in 1997, and the new Bureau is expected to be formed at the IPCC meeting in March 2002. The Bureau has 30 members representing all five UN regions.

KEY IPCC REPORTS: The IPCC completed its first comprehensive assessment of climate change compiled in the First Assessment Report (FAR) in 1990, and its Second Assessment Report (SAR) in 1995. In 1994 it prepared technical guidelines for assessing greenhouse gas inventories. These were published in 1995 and subsequently revised in 1996. The Kyoto Protocol in 1997 reaffirmed the use of the Revised IPCC Guidelines for preparing national greenhouse gas inventories by the Parties to the UNFCCC.

The IPCC also prepares special reports and technical papers on topics where independent scientific information and advice is deemed necessary. It prepared a Special Report on land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) in 2000 at the request of the UNFCCC.

THIRD ASSESSMENT REPORT: The Third Assessment Report (TAR) addresses policy-relevant scientific, technical, and socio-economic dimensions of climate change. It concentrates on findings since 1995, and pays attention to both regional and global scales, and includes non-English literature to the extent possible. The preparation of the TAR was guided by a decision paper that had been adopted by the Panel at its thirteenth Plenary Session. The preparation of the TAR has also been guided by papers on cross-cutting issues, such as equity, uncertainties and costing methodologies, published as IPCC supporting material to ensure a coordinated approach to these issues within all working groups.

The TAR is composed of a comprehensive assessment from the three IPCC working groups, and a Synthesis Report. The Synthesis Report, yet to be completed, will be written in a non-technical style aimed at policy-makers. It addresses a broad range of key policy-relevant questions identified by the IPCC in consultation with governments and the Parties of the UNFCCC.

Each working group has also produced a summary for policy makers and a technical summary. The comprehensive assessments, Synthesis Report and summaries for policy makers have been subject to extensive peer review from experts and governments.

ADOPTION OF THE REPORTS OF THE TAR: Working Group I: Working Group I met from 17-20 January 2001, in Shanghai, China, to finalize and adopt its part of the TAR. One hundred and fifty delegates from 100 countries adopted the report, "Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis" as well as the summary for policy makers. The report, which is based on work by 123 authors and more than 500 contributors, notes that "an increasing body of observation gives a collective picture of a warming world" and that the climate is changing more rapidly than predicted in the SAR.

Other key findings of the report include that: most of the warming experienced over the past 50 years is due to human activities; climate change models have improved; the 1990s was the warmest decade this century; carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has increased by 31% since the mid-eighteenth century; global surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 - 5.8°C from 1990 to 2100, which is higher than projected in the SAR; water vapor concentration and precipitation are projected to increase, and more intense precipitation events are likely over many land areas in the mid- to high-latitudes in the northern hemisphere; and sea-levels are projected to rise by 0.09 - 0.88 meters from 1990 to 2100, which is slightly lower than projected in the SAR.

Working Group II: Working Group II met from 13-16 February 2001, in Geneva, Switzerland, to finalize and adopt its part of the TAR. More than 160 delegates from 100 countries approved the report, "Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability," as well as the summary for policy makers. The full report was completed by more than 400 authors and contributors, assessing scientific literature related to the impacts of, and vulnerability to, climate change. The report suggests projected climate changes over the next century could potentially lead to future large-scale and possibly irreversible changes. Focusing on a variety of issues, the report considers the effects of climate change on water resources, terrestrial ecosystems and human health. It also addresses regional concerns, vulnerabilities and adaptive capacities.

Key findings include an anticipated decline in future agricultural productivity in large parts of Asia and Africa, water shortages in a number of regions, harsher droughts in southern Europe, and more storm damage and coastal erosion on the eastern coast of the US. The range of infectious diseases, such as malaria, is likely to increase. Small island States will be most seriously affected, while developing countries will have the most difficulty in adapting to climate change.

Working Group III: Working Group III met in Accra, Ghana, from 28 February to 3 March 2001, to finalize and adopt its part of the TAR. More than 140 delegates from 85 countries approved the report, "Climate Change 2001: Mitigation," as well as the summary for policy-makers. The report was prepared by nearly 400 authors and contributors. It assesses options for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by reviewing: technologies available for controlling emissions; steps that can be taken in the industry and energy sectors to promote a transition to a cleaner energy future; contributions through carbon sequestration by forestry and agriculture; policies for achieving cost-effective and "no-regrets" emissions reductions; and ways to overcome political, cultural and institutional barriers to mitigation.

The report confirms that many cost-effective solutions to limit greenhouse gas emissions do exist, although there often are institutional, behavioral and other barriers to their implementation. The choice of energy sources and investment in the energy sector are highlighted as determining future climatic development. The report notes that, while more progress is needed, technological change with regard to climate-friendly energy production and greenhouse gas reduction has taken place more rapidly than anticipated five years ago.

The report further highlights end-use energy efficiency as an important component of mitigation efforts as it could account for half of the potential emissions reductions from 2010-2020. The potential of so-called "no-regrets" mitigation options in which emissions are reduced while money is saved is stressed. If reduced air pollution and other ancillary benefits are considered, the benefits are even greater. However, in order for mitigation measures to be carried out, socio-economic and institutional changes are required and political will is needed.

REPORT OF THE MEETING

IPCC Chair Robert Watson opened the seventeenth Panel session on Wednesday morning, 4 April. After welcoming participants, he highlighted the importance of the meeting, and said it would accept the actions taken by the three IPCC Working Groups with regard to the Third Assessment Report (TAR). He noted that each section of the TAR had already been approved by each respective Working Group. He then said the meeting would discuss the future of the IPCC. He asked participants to first consider whether there should be a future role for the IPCC, and if so, what the scope and the structure of the IPCC should be. He introduced a paper he had written on this issue, which would form the basis for in-depth discussions during the meeting. He said participants would consider whether the IPCC was being responsive to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other entities in the environment and development field. He then noted that the draft Synthesis Report of the TAR would be distributed during the meeting. He said that it had been sent out to governments for review, was being translated into all six UN languages, and would be approved by the eighteenth IPCC Plenary session, to be held in London, United Kingdom, in September 2001.

Godwin Obasi, Secretary-General of the WMO, thanked UNEP for hosting the meeting. He recalled achievements of the IPCC to date and provided his perspective of the TAR. He said the TAR: was more definitive in attributing most observed climate change to human activities; called attention to trends in climate variables in addition to temperature; noted that ecosystems and human systems are vulnerable to climate change, with the poor likely to be most hard hit; showed that climate change mitigation policies have potential synergies with policies that promote sustainable development and equity; and noted that human actions influence the future climate of the planet. He called for action to address the challenge of climate change under the UNFCCC. He also noted the importance of collection, distribution, exchange and archiving of information related to the global climate, and the need for resources in order to reverse the decline in observational networks and to improve climate modeling. On the future work of the IPCC, he suggested that the Panel should consider converting the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories into a working group. He assured the support of the WMO for the IPCC.

Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of UNEP, welcomed participants to Nairobi. He congratulated the IPCC on its work, and emphasized the importance of its continuation. He highlighted a decision from the UNEP Governing Council meeting held in Nairobi from 5-9 February 2001, which urged the continuation of support for the IPCC and the participation of as many experts as possible from developing countries, and which called for UNEP to disseminate the findings of the TAR. He recalled the key message of Working Group I, that new and stronger evidence is available to indicate that the warming that has been observed could be attributed to human activities. He noted that Working Group II indicated that carefully planned adaptation measures could significantly reduce the impacts of climate change. He underscored that in this manner the IPCC does not only identify the problems, but also provides guidance toward solutions. He said Working Group III demonstrated the importance of focusing on bottlenecks in order to overcome them. He concluded that scientific, not politically biased, views should be the outcome of the work of the IPCC.

Michael Zammit Cutajar, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, made his last statement to the Plenary of the IPCC in his current capacity. He underscored that the three assessment reports and the special reports are the "bible of climate science," and noted that the work of the IPCC provides hope that all governments will recognize the importance of climate change. He outlined his recommendations that the future work of the IPCC should: maintain the rhythm of publication of the assessment reports every five years and the current format for reporting; ensure integration of scientific assessments with environment and development issues and cooperation between conventions; and explore ways to better communicate the information to governments and the general public. He confirmed that the resumed session of the UNFCCC Sixth Conference of the Parties (COP-6) would be held from16-27 July 2001. He noted his wish that the IPCC would be able to identify a scientifically sound indicator of climate change that world public opinion would immediately grasp.

Renate Christ, Deputy Secretary of the IPCC, on behalf of the IPCC Secretariat, thanked UNEP for the hosting this meeting. Participants then adopted the provisional annotated agenda.

Editor’s Note: As a matter of policy, the Earth Negotiations Bulletin does not directly attribute statements in informal discussions when requested to do so.

ADOPTION OF THE DRAFT REPORT OF THE SIXTEENTH SESSION

Under this agenda item, participants commented that the report did not reflect the length of the discussions during the sixteenth IPCC Plenary session in Montreal, Canada. They noted that the terms of reference for the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories approved at the sixteenth session were only the interim terms of reference, since the final ones would be discussed at this seventeenth session. The draft report was then adopted.

ACCEPTANCE OF THE ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE IPCC WORKING GROUPS IN RELATION TO THE TAR

Participants considered this agenda item on Wednesday, 4 April, and Thursday, 5 April. They accepted the summaires for policy makers (SPMs) and took note of supporting material, including the Working Group Technical Summaries and the lists of relevant corrections and edits that had been made to the TAR, after the SPMs had been adopted, to ensure consistency with the SPMs. This material was distributed in hard copy at the meeting.

Working Group I Co-Chair Yihui Ding presented a brief summary describing the progress of work on the report prepared by the group. He said the SPM and the underlying assessment had been approved in Shanghai, China, during the eighth session of Working Group I from 17-20 January 2001. He noted that the documents had included the comments received by reviewers, and that these comments had been carefully analyzed and assimilated into the revised documents. Before the Plenary accepted the documents, one participant, seeking to avoid misunderstanding, requested the inclusion in the report of a clear explanation of the reason for the difference in projected temperature change between the findings in this report and previous findings. This request was noted in the minutes of the meeting, since no changes could be made to the SPM adopted by the Working Group.

Working Group II Co-Chair James McCarthy reported on the work of the group. He noted the participation of over 400 authors and reviewers for the preparation of the report. He said that the comments by governments and reviewers had been taken into account in Geneva, Switzerland, on 13-16 February 2001, and were reflected in the technical summary and the SPM. Delegates agreed to include in the minutes two notes that address issues that had been omitted in the report. One note would mention that "small island States" should be changed to "small island developing States" to reflect the text used in the UNFCCC. The other note would state that "several delegates noted that Working Group II did not address the level of greenhouse gas concentrations that would cause dangerous anthropogenic perturbation to the climate system (the ultimate goal of the UNFCCC)."

Working Group III Co-Chair Ogunlade Davidson reported on the work of the group. He noted that the Working Group had met in Accra, Ghana, from 28 February to 3 March 2001 and adopted its part of the TAR.

The Plenary accepted the action taken by the Working Groups on the TAR.

PROGRESS ON THE SYNTHESIS REPORT

Chair Watson reported that the IPCC Secretariat had distributed the draft Synthesis Report to governments and experts by mail on 3 April 2001. The report would also be available in hard copy during the Plenary meeting, and is accessible to governments on a closed website. The writing team for the Synthesis Report is composed of members of the IPCC Bureau, Coordinating Lead Authors from each Working Group, and selected members from each Working Group. The comments are expected to be returned in English within eight weeks. The SPM will be approved line-by-line and the Synthesis Report will be adopted section-by-section at the eighteenth IPCC Plenary session in September.

The Plenary took note of this agenda item.

POST TAR WORK PROGRAMME

Participants discussed the future work programme of the IPCC during all three days of the IPCC session. The Panel started discussing the issue on Wednesday afternoon, 4 April. In his introduction, Chair Watson noted that the TAR was nearly complete, and that it was timely to discuss future work. He highlighted his paper on the future work of the IPCC, noting that the UNEP Governing Council had strongly endorsed the IPCC, and said that a similar discussion would be needed within the WMO. He provided a historical context of the IPCC and highlighted its current structure and work. He stressed that part of the work of the IPCC can be considered risk assessment – notably that of Working Groups I and II – while the work of Working Group III, as well as work on adaptation, can be considered risk management. He noted that the risk management work ran a greater risk of being politicized, and called for caution.

In a general discussion, participants raised issues relating to: the length of the documents; transparency between the work of the IPCC Bureau and the Plenary; the role and scope of the working groups; the relationship between the IPCC and environmental conventions; and the importance of encouraging a greater number of experts from developing countries to participate in the process.

On the continuation of the IPCC, most participants expressed their support for the IPCC to continue its work, and several raised the point that this decision lay with the founding organizations of the IPCC, UNEP and WMO. Some delegates noted that the IPCC should remain an objective and independent technical body. One participant suggested the IPCC should stop to critically evaluate its own activities.

On general directions for the future, one participant stressed the need to build on strengths, based on accumulated experience. He also said the IPCC should be an initiator of new action and research. One delegate called for the consideration of a more regional focus of work, such as in the area of mitigation. Several participants drew attention to funding issues, noting that a strong budget is required for the IPCC to continue its work at current levels. On the need to ensure more focused work, one participant cautioned against policy prescription. He stressed that the IPCC should continue its work regardless of what is happening in the UNFCCC process, and proposed that the IPCC itself drive its agenda.

Many delegates noted the need to fully take into account research and literature from the South, and to do more to involve developing countries and to make use of literature in languages other than English. The Working Group Co-Chairs explained that they had tried to involve developing country representatives and stressed the need to make further efforts with regard to this issue.

Summarizing the general discussion, Chair Watson noted that all interventions seemed to support the continuation of the IPCC. He noted improved developing country participation as an operational issue that should receive further attention. He highlighted a new US$7.5 million grant to be used by developing country scientists to work on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation. He highlighted the need to improve access to research in foreign languages, and to improve ways of finding such literature.

On the need for increasing transparency with regard to the Bureau, he suggested distributing the agenda in advance and the minutes as soon as they were approved. He noted that the real decisions are taken by the Plenary and that the Bureau can only make recommendations.

KEY DECISIONS RELATED TO THE FUTURE WORK OF THE IPCC : Chair Watson introduced ten key decisions on the future of the IPCC and outlined his perspectives on them. On whether the IPCC should continue preparing comprehensive assessments (Decision 1), he recommended it should. On how frequent the comprehensive assessments should be (Decision 2), he said either the five-year interval should be maintained or the intervals should be made longer, but the issue should be discussed in plenary and with the expert community. On whether the reports by the different working groups relating to the comprehensive assessments should be staggered (Decision 3), he said the delays would have to be sufficiently long to provide benefits and said that this would make preparing a Synthesis Report difficult. He supported shorter and more focused working group reports (Decision 4). On whether the comprehensive reports should be supplemented by special reports, such as the Synthesis Report (Decision 5), he strongly supported a series of focused special reports. On how to manage and approve technical papers, special reports and reports on methodological issues (Decision 6), he said a series of options should be explored. On whether the IPCC should prepare papers and reports on request of the UNFCCC and other environmental conventions (Decision 7), he said the IPCC should be responsive as long as financial resources are available and the scope is appropriate, as judged by the Panel. On whether current procedures should apply for all special reports or there should be exceptions to respond to the short-term needs of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol (Decision 8), he said case-by-case decisions could be taken by the Panel on just one round of peer review for a specific special report. On the appropriate Working Group structure (Decision 9), he supported the current structure, but recommended increased attention to cross-cutting issues and a fourth working group on the inventories’ methodological work. On the appropriate size, structure and geographic representation of the IPCC Bureau (Decision 10), he recommended that the size of the Bureau remain at 30 members, with current geographical representation. He recommended four working groups with seven-member bureaus and two co-chairs from a developed and a developing country or a country with economy in transition.

Participants began focused discussions on the decisions on Wednesday, 4 April, continued discussions much of Thursday, and concluded them on Friday.

Decision 1: Several participants noted that the decision on the continuation of comprehensive assessments and special reports can be regarded as one, and that both types of reports are needed, and that a balance should be maintained between the different sets of reports. One delegate stressed that the SPMs were too long, and that the technical summaries are unnecessary. Another delegate noted that new technologies such as CD-ROM should be utilized for the distribution of the IPCC material, in particular the comprehensive assessments. Participants agreed that the comprehensive assessments should be continued, although they generally felt that they could be both comprehensive and more focused at the same time, and thus shorter.

Decision 2: On the intervals between the comprehensive assessments, some countries favored longer intervals in order to have more new information to build on. One delegate suggested a 10-year interval with a supplement every five years with updates. Other participants supported maintaining the cycle at five years, noting that research is taking place at an accelerated speed. One participant wanted the interval to be shorter than five years. Several participants noted a sense of fatigue among scientists both with regard to the number of reports and the timing of the next assessment. Stressing that the supply of a high quality product must be ensured, one delegate said a new assessment should be should be issued only when there is something new to report, and suggested the scientists should be consulted about the timeframe.

Chair Watson suggested that the timeframe would partly be determined by the amount of new material appearing in the near future, but also by the new Bureau.

Decision 3: The issue of whether the working groups should be staggered is an item for the new Bureau to decide.

Decision 4: Many participants supported shorter reports and SPMs. Chair Watson said this would be left to the new Bureau to determine.

Decision 5: Participants underscored that uncertainties identified in the preparation of the assessment reports could be addressed by focused special reports. Delegates suggested that the special reports could address important issues so that the comprehensive assessment reports could be shorter. One participant noted that not only technical papers are needed, but that guidelines and methodological reports are also necessary.

Decision 6: On the management and approval process for special reports, several delegates preferred the option used most frequently to date, which involved the reports being assigned to the most appropriate working group co-chairs and associated Technical Support Units, with approval in a plenary session of the working group. One participant suggested making better use of the Synthesis Report for the purpose of focusing the work in the working groups, and for identifying what the special reports should cover. Participants discussed the role of the working group co-chairs and IPCC vice-chairs in managing special reports. Concerns were raised regarding the workload for these individuals. Participants questioned how crosscutting issues that do not fit clearly within one working group should be approached.

Chair Watson noted a slight variation of viewpoints, but recognized that many supported the idea that the normal procedure would entail using existing co-chairs with existing Technical Support Units, especially when associated with the subject of the working group. It was suggested that, if the issues are cross-cutting, with inputs from all, then a special vice-chair with the support of either a Technical Support Unit or special arrangements on a case-by-case basis should be made. Chair Watson noted that most delegates agreed that there should not be changes to existing rules of procedure, but that an addenda on the acceptance process for methodological work should be added. He suggested the task force bureau should come up with an options paper for this. He also supported an addenda on the interface between the Bureau and the Panel.

Decision 7: The fact that the IPCC had been requested to prepare a technical paper for a convention other than the UNFCCC was considered to indicate the success of the IPCC, and also to provide a challenge for the IPCC. While requests from the UNFCCC to carry out work were supported, some delegates noted that such requests from other bodies should only be met if the focus of the work remained on climate change, although there was general agreement that there are distinct inter-linkages between the various environmental conventions. Several delegates stressed the importance of setting overall priorities. One participant said the IPCC should decide on its own priorities with regard to which links to focus on, and not depend on requests from other bodies. Many countries noted that synergies and complementarities need to be explored further, but recognized that funds are an issue. Delegates also expressed concern that any joint work with another convention or body should be done with the understanding that the IPCC follow its agreed rules.

One participant stressed that work requested by other bodies should be carefully defined, and that the effort should be joint and involve both bodies. Another participant recalled that IPCC efforts rely on voluntary contributions and suggested that scientists will be fatigued if there are too many requests.

Decision 8: On whether current procedures should apply for all special reports, or that exceptions be made to respond to the short-term needs of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, one delegate said that rules may need to be reconsidered with regard to methodological guidelines, especially if the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories becomes a new working group. Some delegates said the present procedures should not be revised, and that additional procedures should be provided where not available. Participants agreed that altering the two-tier review process was not desired, and underscored that it was important for the credibility of the IPCC. Chair Watson noted that the approval process for inventories now is unclear, and said that a plan for this needs to have an addenda regarding methodological guidelines.

Decision 9: On the structure of the three working groups, one delegate said their work should be better integrated, and that lessons could be learned from work on cross-cutting issues under the TAR. Participants also raised the issue of addressing the interactions between the working groups. Several participants expressed the desire to maintain the number of vice-chairs, and suggested concrete responsibilities for these roles, such as leading task forces for special reports, doing budgetary work or covering communication. It was suggested that the economic aspects of Working Group II, and the technical aspects of Working Group III should be strengthened.

General support for a fourth working group on greenhouse gas inventories was expressed, although with various concerns about the nature of the work of this group. One participant called for transparent procedures and noted that making the Task Force a working group would add to transparency. Participants’ concerns regarding the proposed fourth working group related to the importance of avoiding the creation of a policy prescriptive group, as this working group would focus on demands set by the UNFCCC. The need to ensure a transparent and policy neutral process within the working group was encouraged.

Decision 10: Several delegates supported the continuation of the current structure of the Bureau. Some participants called for more transparency in the selection of the Bureau. Noting that the current composition is based on regional representation, one participant questioned whether the Bureau members actually consulted with their constituencies, and suggested that by doing so, all delegates would feel a greater sense of ownership with regard to actions by the Bureau. Participants expressed differing views on the size of the Bureau, ranging from suggestions to expand it, to reduce the members, and to have a rotating membership basis. Participants highlighted the need for a regional balance within the bureaus of each working group.

Conclusion: In concluding, Chair Watson summarized the views expressed by participants. On the question of whether the IPCC should be continued, he said agreement had been unanimous, although some participants had expressed that this decision was not up to the Panel, but rather up to its founding bodies, UNEP and WMO. On the question of whether the IPCC should continue to prepare comprehensive assessments, general accord was articulated, but delegates expressed desire for attempting to focus and shorten the assessments. The question of special reports was unanimously supported, as was the issue of taking on requests for such work by the UNFCCC. However there was concern and differing views for taking up requests from other conventions and bodies. Regarding the question of whether a fourth working group should be established to deal with inventory issues, participants articulated views in favor, but also indicated reservations, and several noted that the time was not right to make a decision on this. Participants agreed that there was a need to determine the structure of the body focusing on inventories in order to ensure transparency and credibility, and to decide on the approval process within this body. On the composition of the Bureau, delegates agreed that the regional balance should be maintained. With certain concerns expressed, participants mostly agreed that the current size of the Bureau was satisfactory.

Noting general agreement on all major issues in the paper, Chair Watson agreed to rewrite his paper on the future work programme of the IPCC based on the discussions. He would then send it out for comments within four weeks, and prepare a third version four weeks later based on comments received. All delegates would receive the third version prior to the IPCC meeting in September 2001.

Consideration of a Request for a technical paper on the interlinkages between climate change and biological diversity: This agenda item was addressed on Wednesday, 4 April. Chair Watson highlighted an invitation from the sixth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-6) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Montreal, Canada, from 12-16 March 2001, for the IPCC to contribute to an assessment of the interlinkages between biological diversity and climate change by preparing a technical paper and identifying experts. He noted that the IPCC had addressed these issues in its Special Report on LULUCF as well as in other documents, and that the process would be joint, but follow IPCC procedures. He said a technical paper could possibly be completed within a year to a year-and-a-half, though the IPCC could also consider a longer special report.

While participants generally agreed that there are interlinkages between many of the environmental conventions and bodies, different views were expressed on the way to proceed regarding the request. Many delegates responded favorably, noting the close relationship between the two conventions and the amount of information now available in the TAR and the LULUCF report. One delegate called for a scoping paper and final decision in September, while another pointed out that it is important for the IPCC to seize the opportunity to set the agenda rather than having other similar bodies created to deal with climate change linkages with other issues. One delegate supported a short technical paper being issued in a short time period based on the LULUCF Special Report and the TAR.

Some delegates stressed that work requested by the UNFCCC should take priority, and highlighted scarce resources. Some delegates requested that the issue be considered as one within a list of options for future IPCC work. One participant proposed that this request be discussed in the UNFCCC SBSTA or COP, and cautioned that there may be political underpinnings to the request and warned against making the report policy prescriptive. Other delegates disagreed with this point, and the Chair said that the paper would provide a neutral scientific basis as a platform for cooperation in the areas of climate change and biological diversity.

Delegates underscored the need to maintain IPCC rules and procedures should the request be taken up. Participants stressed that demonstrating the linkages between climate change and biodiversity to policy-makers would indicate the importance of mitigation measures for addressing climate change. Concerns included whether the scale on which ecosystems are studied was compatible with the scale on which climate is studied, and whether addressing this request would contribute to politicizing the role of the IPCC. Participants stressed the need for a plan of action to identify priorities.

Some delegates said the SAR, TAR and Special Reports already prepared by the IPCC contained adequate information on the linkages between climate change and biodiversity to address the request, but Working Group II Co-Chair James McCarthy pointed out that the information in these reports was limited. IPCC Chair Watson underscored that the work required to fulfill the request was minor, and suggested that participants agree on a scoping paper. The paper would indicate the sources from which the information would be drawn, and contain a list of recommended lead authors and coordinating lead authors. He added that the paper would be addressed at the next Plenary meeting of the IPCC.

IPCC Work Programme and Budget for 2002-2004: Leo Meyer, Co-Chair of the Financial Task Team, introduced the agenda item on the budget on Friday, 6 April. He noted that the current budgetary situation was stable, and that one country had committed to substantially increased contributions. He mentioned that the WMO had submitted an analysis on IPCC financial matters, and suggested measures that should be taken to improve financial reporting and transparency. He called attention to high shipping and mailing costs. He noted that the budget proposal for 2002 was still in draft form, and that there were no certain figures for the post-TAR period, since the work programme remains to be agreed upon. In the ensuing discussion, the need to ensure that the IPCC stays on a sound financial basis was brought up, and the need to broaden the budgetary base was underscored, as the funding situation is likely to change in the future. Some participants expressed concern over the uncertainty with regard to funding.

Task Force on Climate Scenarios for Impact Assessment: This agenda item was considered on Friday morning, 6 April. Chair Watson introduced a report by the Task Force on Climate Scenarios for Impact Assessment. The Task Force was established to facilitate cooperation and promote collaboration between the climate modeling and impacts communities, particularly addressing issues related to availability and accessibility of climate scenarios and other data for use in impacts studies and assessment. The outputs of the Task Force are: the maintenance of the IPCC Data Distribution Centre managed by the Climatic Research Unit in the UK, and the Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum in Germany; guidance material on the use of scenario data for impact and adaptation assessments; and the publication of inventories. Chair Watson outlined the next steps for the Task Force, including:

  • considering the choice of scenarios that reflect the operation of various mitigation strategies;

  • summarizing current knowledge regarding the scaling of atmosphere-ocean general circulation model (AOGCM) results and making these available to impacts researchers so that impact assessments are more representative of the full range of possible future climates;

  • improving the inter-comparison of regional models, to ensure that regional-level impact assessments are a more feasible objective of the IPCC’s assessments in the future;

  • liaising with other organizations, regarding the development of programmes for training in the use of scenarios for climate impact assessment; and

  • enabling the regular updating of the IPCC Data Distribution Centre, the guidance material on scenario use and the inventories of the AOGCM studies, regional models, and impacts studies.

One delegate highlighted that the IPCC should recognize the importance of climate data, which should be good, reliable, homogenized and of long enough series for the preparation of scenarios.

LULUCF in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, including terms of reference for the Task Force: This item was considered on Friday, 6 April. Chair Watson introduced a draft Panel decision on how to move forward on LULUCF in the context of national greenhouse gas inventories, produced by the bureau of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. After making a few minor textual changes, delegates accepted the decision text that:

  • notes the previous request by the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) to the IPCC to progress activities related to good practice guidance and uncertainty management for the LULUCF sector of national greenhouse gas inventories;

  • notes that the current report on Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories covers all sectors except for LULUCF;

  • decides to further pursue work on elaborating such guidance to meet the inventory reporting requirements to Parties under the UNFCCC relating to LULUCF;

  • notes that the IPCC will take into account possible guidance from the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties;

  • requests the Task Force bureau to organize the work; and

  • decides to consider the proposed work programme at the IPCC’s eighteenth session.

On the terms of reference for the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Chair Watson suggested that the Task Force prepare a short paper that will address, inter alia, the various options available to answer the question of whether the Task Force should be modified into a new working group or remain a task force; what the structure of such a working group or task force should be; what the focus of such a working group or task force should be; and how such a working group or task force should relate to the other working groups and the IPCC as a whole.

IPCC COMMUNICATION STRATEGY: This agenda item was addressed at the end of the day on Thursday, 5 April. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Ad Hoc Group on Communication Strategy, gave a presentation on the development and use of the IPCC website, noting a rapid rise in the number of hits. He noted seminars and workshops held and called for further outreach to disseminate information on the work of the IPCC.

One delegate requested that the material on the IPCC website, especially the TAR SPMs, be made available in all UN languages.

SCOPING FOR A SPECIAL REPORT ON KEY INTERACTIONS BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT : On Thursday evening, 5 April, a proposal was introduced for a special report on climate change and sustainable development addressing key interactions, as well as a proposal for a scoping/expert meeting to prepare the ground for this special report. The report would, inter alia, specify clearly the criteria for sustainable development with regard to climate change, and consider impacts on poverty and equity as well as implications on a regional basis.

Discussion of the proposal took place on Friday morning, 6 April. Chair Watson asked for comments on whether the IPCC should approve a scoping meeting prior to its eighteenth session in September, at which the decision on the special report then could be taken.

Many delegates expressed their support both for the proposed special report and a scoping meeting. Some delegates underscored that issues of sustainable development and equity had not been comprehensively dealt with in the TAR, and welcomed additional efforts. They also stressed that climate change and sustainable development need to be integrated into policies at the national level, which the special report could support. Some delegates noted that the focus on sustainable development would be timely considering the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002. One delegate called for a focus on the social aspects of sustainable development, and cautioned against the report becoming political, stressing the need for it to be a scientific assessment. Some delegates underscored the need for the process to include representatives from all geographical regions. One participant noted that while there is much ongoing work on sustainable development, there is usually not a strong focus on climate change in this context.

Some delegates expressed concern regarding the fact that this issue was being discussed before the overall work programme and priorities for the IPCC had been decided on. Some participants cautioned that the proposed report might be too wide in scope, arguing for a more focused approach. Several delegates called for attention to financial requirements, and requested time for national consultations.

Noting that the majority of delegates support the scoping meeting, Chair Watson proposed that the work go ahead with a scoping meeting and a scoping paper including different options to be made available to IPCC members four weeks in advance of the September session. The focus would be on the environmental, not political dimension of the issue, and there would be a study of similar ongoing work. A timetable and assessment of budgetary implications would be included, and the meeting would ensure good regional representation. The Panel agreed with this proposal.

CRITICAL AREAS OF PRIORITY FOR FUTURE IPCC WORK : A one-hour discussion on this topic was held on Friday, 6 April. Chair Watson requested participants to highlight critical areas that should be priorities for the future work of the IPCC, underscoring that these areas would be ones for which the IPCC could stimulate research within the academic community, since the IPCC itself does not carry out research. He suggested that these critical elements could become crucial components of the next comprehensive assessment, or the topic of special reports. Delegates suggested that the IPCC address the following issues/tasks:

  • an economic assessment of the damage resulting from climate change and the cost of measures that are necessary to prevent this damage;

  • the point at which greenhouse gas concentration levels become "dangerous;"

  • critical elements and critical threshold levels of the climate system;

  • research on the carbon cycle, including the negative and positive role of carbon dioxide for the biosphere and the climate system;

  • the correlation between theoretical and experimental global surface data;

  • the links between climate change and sustainable development and biodiversity;

  • local and short-range weather events and the potential link to climate change;

  • links between climate change and extreme weather events, including El Niño, tropical cyclones and monsoons;

  • a comparison of the cost of action versus the cost of inaction;

  • documentation of climate change events and impacts that have been evident to date and detection of climate change;

  • development of methodologies for assessing the likelihood of emissions scenarios and economic assessment of emissions scenarios;

  • vulnerability and adaptation assessments and identification of adaptation strategies;

  • focus on regional level implications and improving the sensitivity of climate models at the regional level;

  • impact of mitigation measures on developing countries and costs of mitigation measures; and

  • data requirements and homogeneity of data, especially from and in the South.

Chair Watson said that he would summarize the elements and link them with what had been presented on these issues in the TAR and Synthesis Report. The results would be submitted to participants for comment within four weeks.

IPCC-UNFCCC INTERACTION: Reporting on the outcome of a joint working group session between the IPCC and the UNFCCC, Chair Watson noted that several issues that were of interest to the IPCC had been identified, some of which required inputs from the IPCC. These issues included: that the UNFCCC and CBD Secretariats had formed a liaison for working closely on interrelated issues; that the UNFCCC had requested Working Group II to nominate some experts to be invited to a workshop on impact and adaptation measures; and that the UNFCCC had requested some experts to participate in a workshop on the Brazil Proposal on differentiated emissions reduction targets for Parties according to the impact of their historic emissions on temperature rise. One delegation asked whether the published products of the TAR would be available before the resumed session of UNFCCC COP-6, and Chair Watson confirmed that they would be, as would the SPMs and Technical Summaries, both of which would be available in all UN languages.

Chair Watson noted that the IPCC had been requested to deliver a short presentation at the beginning of the resumed COP-6, and would convene side events on the key results of the TAR during that meeting. The IPCC would give a formal presentation on the Synthesis Report during a SBSTA session at COP-7.

ISSUES RELATED TO THE EIGHTEENTH SESSION OTHER THAN THE SYNTHESIS REPORT

This agenda item was briefly addressed on Friday afternoon, 6 April. Participants discussed how to address other business during the upcoming eighteenth session, which is dedicated to approving and adopting the Synthesis Report. Several delegates commented that there would not be sufficient time during the scheduled six-day meeting to reach conclusion on the key decisions that had been addressed during this session, and also to approve the proposed scoping paper on the request from the CBD for a technical paper on the links between biological diversity and climate change. Other items that would need to be addressed included a proposed paper on the future role of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, the budget, and LULUCF activity.

OTHER BUSINESS AND CLOSING OF THE SESSION

During the Plenary session on Friday afternoon, 6 April, a representative of the Ozone Secretariat highlighted successful examples of cooperation between the scientific assessment panel for ozone and the IPCC, and encouraged further collaboration.

Chair Watson introduced the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in support of the conventions on biological diversity and desertification and the Ramsar Convention on wetlands. He noted that the Assessment would be launched in mid-April 2001. He said he would keep the IPCC members informed on developments within this programme, and stressed that there are links between it and the IPCC�s work.

In closing, Chair Watson reviewed the follow-up actions to the IPCC meeting, noted the time and location of the eighteenth session, and welcomed suggestions for the nineteenth session. He noted that the report of the seventeenth meeting would be approved at the September meeting. Thanking the participants, he closed the meeting at 4:45 pm.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR

CONFERENCE ON EQUITY AND GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE: This international conference will take place from 17-18 April 2001, in Washington, DC. It is being organized by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. The meeting will consider "fair and reasonable" actions for all countries in addressing climate change, as well as how issues of competitiveness, economic growth and ethics relate to this debate. For more information, contact: Christie Jorge Santelises; tel: +1-703-516-4146; fax: +1-703-841-1422; e-mail: jorgec@pewclimate.org; Internet: http://www.pewclimate.org/events

SECOND International Combined Heat and Power Symposium: This meeting will take place from 9-10 May 2001, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. For more information, contact: Quirine Boellaard, tel: +31-20-549-1212; e-mail: q.heerkens@rai.nl; Internet: http://www.2ndCHPsymposium.com

KYOTO MECHANISMS: EMERGING BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES: This forum, which will be held from 10-11 May 2001, in Hong Kong, examines the business opportunities and risks as countries work towards a final agreement under the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties. Several companies will outline emissions trading market structures and provide insights on global corporate initiatives in promoting emissions trading. Government officials from India and China will discuss investment opportunities available under the Kyoto mechanisms. Case studies on Malaysian and Indonesian CDM projects will examine legal, auditing and finance issues. For more information, contact: Centre for Management Technology, Christina Lu Jialing; tel: +65-346-9132; fax: +65-345-5928; e-mail: christina@cmtsp.com.sg; Internet: http://www.cmtevents.com

INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND VARIABILITY IN NORTHERN EUROPE: This meeting will be held in Turku, Finland, from 6-8 June 2001. For more information contact: Mia R�nk�, University of Turku, Finland; tel: +358-2-333-6009; fax: +358-2-333-5730; Internet: http://figare.utu.fi/events/CLIC/index.html

RESUMED UNFCCC COP-6: The resumed COP-6 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (as outlined under COP-6 decision FCCC/CP/2000/L.3) will be held from 16-27 July 2001, in Bonn, Germany. For more information, contact: the UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail: secretariat@unfccc.int; Internet: http://www.unfccc.int

21ST SESSION OF THE OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP OF THE PARTIES TO THE MONTREAL PROTOCOL: This meeting is scheduled to be held from 24-26 July 2001, in Montreal, Canada. For more information, contact: Ozone Secretariat; tel: +254-2-62-1234; fax: +254-2-62-3601; e-mail: ozoneinfo@unep.org; Internet: http://www.unep.org/ozone

EIGHTEENTH SESSION OF THE IPCC PLENARY: This meeting will be held from 24-29 September 2001, in London, UK. The purpose of the meeting is to adopt/approve the Synthesis Report. For more information, contact: Renate Christ, IPCC Secretariat, tel: +41-22-730-8574; fax: +41-22-730-8025; e-mail: christ_r@gateway.wmo.ch; Internet: http://www.ipcc.ch/activity/master-sch.html

13TH MEETING OF THE PARTIES TO THE MONTREAL PROTOCOL: MOP-13 will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 15-19 October 2001. For more information contact: Ozone Secretariat; tel: +254-2-62-1234; fax: +254-2-62-3601; e-mail: ozoneinfo@unep.org; Internet: http://www.unep.org/ozone

SEVENTH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE UN FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE: COP-7 is scheduled to take place from 29 October - 9 November 2001, in Marrakech, Morocco. For more information contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail: secretariat@unfccc.int; Internet: http://www.unfccc.int

  • This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin � enb@iisd.org is written and edited by and Lisa Schipper lisa@iisd.org and Malena Sell malena@iisd.org. The Editors are Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D. pam@iisd.org and Jonathon Hanks jon@iisd.org, and the Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James "Kimo" Goree VI kimo@iisd.org. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the United States (through USAID), the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape (SAEFL), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the European Commission (DG-ENV) and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. General Support for the Bulletin during 2001 is provided by the German Federal Ministry of Environment (BMU) and the German Federal Ministry of Development Cooperation (BMZ), the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Austria, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment of Norway, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment of Finland, the Government of Australia, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies � IGES). The Bulletin can be contacted by e-mail at enb@iisd.org and at tel: +1-212-644-0204; fax: +1-212-644-0206. IISD can be contacted by e-mail at info@iisd.ca and at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada. The opinions expressed in the Earth Negotiations Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD and other funders. Excerpts from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications only and only with appropriate academic citation. For permission to use this material in commercial publications, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists and can be found on the Linkages WWW server at http://enb.iisd.org. The satellite image was taken above Nairobi �2001 The Living Earth, Inc. For information on the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, send e-mail to enb@iisd.org.