Summary report, 27–30 September 2022
57th Session of the IPCC (IPCC-57)
With the publication of Synthesis Report from the sixth assessment cycle delayed until March 2023, delegates to the 57th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-57) used this meeting to focus on critical business matters. Throughout the meeting, participants focused on the need to prepare for a smooth transition to the next assessment cycle, including by identifying lessons learned from the challenges and successes of the current cycle.
The current cycle was longer than expected, due in part to the global disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, changes to the staffing of the Synthesis Report Technical Support Unit earlier this year led to a revised timeline for the report’s production, prolonging this already lengthy cycle by at least another six months. The extension of the sixth assessment cycle and uncertainty about the timeline for transitioning to the seventh cycle has created significant pressure for many who contribute to the work of the IPCC, including both paid staff and the authors, Bureau members, and others who contribute their time on a voluntary basis. Additionally, the delay means that the Synthesis Report, which provides an overview of the state of scientific knowledge on climate change, will not be ready in time to inform the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Conference.
As the impacts of climate change become increasingly visible—including through the catastrophic floods in Pakistan, chronic droughts in East Africa, and the devastation to Cuba and the southern United States caused by Hurricane Ian during this meeting—many delegates underscored the essential role of the IPCC in providing the scientific foundation for global policymaking. Some called for thinking creatively about how the IPCC can use its seventh cycle to inform this critical decade for climate policy, perhaps by producing Special Reports and other outputs that can be prepared on shorter timelines than assessment reports.
Delegates also considered: outreach and communications efforts that aim to ensure that the IPCC’s outputs achieve wide distribution; actions to strengthen gender equality and equity in internal operations; funding for its activities; collaboration with other international bodies, including UNFCCC and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES); and the size, structure, and composition of the IPCC Bureau and any Task Force Bureau for the seventh assessment cycle.
IPCC-57 convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 27-30 September 2022. Approximately 300 people participated, including representatives of the IPCC Bureau, representatives of members countries, and observers.
A Brief History of the IPCC
The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess, in a comprehensive, objective, open, and transparent manner, the scientific, technical, and socio-economic information relevant to understanding human-induced climate change, its potential impacts, and adaptation and mitigation options. The IPCC is an intergovernmental and scientific body with 195 member countries. It does not undertake new research or monitor climate-related data; rather, it conducts assessments of the state of climate change knowledge based on published, peer reviewed scientific and technical literature. IPCC reports are intended to be policy relevant but not policy prescriptive, and they provide key input into international climate change negotiations.
The IPCC has three Working Groups (WGs):
- WGI addresses the physical science basis of climate change;
- WGII addresses climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability; and
- WGIII addresses options for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and mitigating climate change.
Each WG has two Co-Chairs and seven Vice-Chairs, with the exception of WGII, which has eight Vice-Chairs. The Co-Chairs guide the WGs in fulfilling their mandates with the assistance of Technical Support Units (TSUs). In addition, the IPCC also has a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFI), also supported by a TSU, to oversee the IPCC National GHG Inventories Programme. The Programme’s aims are to develop and refine an internationally agreed methodology and software for calculating and reporting national GHG emissions and removals and to encourage its use by parties to the UNFCCC.
The IPCC elects its Bureau for the duration of a full assessment cycle, which includes the preparation of an assessment report that takes five to seven years and any other special reports or technical papers that are published during that cycle. The Bureau is composed of climate change experts representing all regions and includes the IPCC Chair and Vice-Chairs, WG Co-Chairs and Vice-Chairs, and TFI Co-Chairs. The IPCC has a permanent Secretariat, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and is hosted by the WMO.
Since its inception, the Panel has prepared a series of comprehensive assessment reports and special reports that provide scientific information on climate change to the international community.
The IPCC has produced five assessment reports, which were completed in 1990, 1995, 2001, 2007, and 2014. The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) was completed in 2022. The assessment reports are structured in three parts, matching the purviews of the WGs. Each WG’s contribution comprises a comprehensive assessment report (the “underlying report”), a Technical Summary (TS), and a Summary for Policymakers (SPM). Each of these reports undergoes an exhaustive, three-stage review process by experts and governments, including: a first review by experts, a second review by experts and governments, and a third review by governments. Each SPM is then approved line-by-line by the respective WG and then adopted by the Panel.
A synthesis report is then produced for the assessment report as a whole, integrating the most relevant aspects of the three WG reports and special reports of that specific cycle. The Panel then undertakes a line-by-line approval of the SPM of the synthesis report. The synthesis report for AR6 will be completed in 2023.
The IPCC has produced a range of special reports on climate change-related issues. The AR6 cycle includes three special reports:
- Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR1.5), which was approved by IPCC-48 in October 2018;
- Climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems (SRCCL), which was approved by IPCC-50 in August 2019; and
- Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), which was approved by IPCC-51 in September 2019.
In addition, the IPCC produces methodology reports, which provide guidelines to help countries report on GHGs. Good Practice Guidance reports were approved in 2000 and 2003, while the IPCC Guidelines on National GHG Inventories were approved in 2006. A Refinement to the 2006 Guidelines on National GHG Inventories (2019 Refinement) was adopted at IPCC-49 in May 2019.
In 2007, the Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded to the IPCC and former US Vice-President Al Gore for their work and efforts “to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations needed to counteract such change.”
Sixth Assessment Cycle
IPCC-41 to IPCC-43: IPCC-41 (24-27 February 2015, Nairobi, Kenya) adopted decisions relevant to the AR6 cycle. IPCC-42 (5-8 October 2015, Dubrovnik, Croatia) elected Bureau members for the AR6 cycle. IPCC-43 (11-13 April 2016, Nairobi, Kenya) agreed to undertake two special reports (SRCCL and SROCC) and the 2019 Refinement during AR6 and, in response to an invitation from the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC, to prepare SR1.5. The Panel also agreed that a special report on cities would be prepared as part of the seventh assessment cycle.
IPCC-44: During this session (17-21 October 2016, Bangkok, Thailand), the Panel adopted outlines for SR1.5 and the 2019 Refinement, as well as decisions on a meeting on climate change and cities, among others.
IPCC Cities and Climate Change Science Conference: This meeting (5-7 March 2018, Edmonton, Canada) produced a research agenda to better understand climate change impacts on cities and the critical role local authorities can play in addressing climate change.
IPCC-45 to IPCC-47: IPCC-45 (28-31 March 2017, Guadalajara, Mexico) approved the SRCCL and SROCC outlines, and discussed: the strategic planning schedule for the AR6 cycle; a proposal to consider short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs); and resourcing options for the IPCC. IPCC-46 (6-10 September 2017, Montreal, Canada) approved the chapter outlines for the three WG contributions to AR6. During IPCC-47 (13-16 March 2018, Paris, France) the Panel agreed to establish a Task Group on Gender and draft terms of reference for a task group on the organization of future work of the IPCC in light of the Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement.
IPCC-48: During this session (1-6 October 2018, Incheon, Republic of Korea), the IPCC accepted SR1.5 and its TS and approved its SPM, which concludes that limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5°C is still possible, but will require “unprecedented” transitions in all aspects of society.
IPCC-49: During this session (8-12 May 2019, Kyoto, Japan), the IPCC adopted the Overview Chapter of the 2019 Refinement and accepted the underlying report. IPCC-49 also adopted decisions on the terms of reference for the Task Group on Gender and on a methodological report on SLCFs to be completed during the Seventh Assessment Report (AR7) cycle.
IPCC-50: During this session (2-7 August 2019, Geneva, Switzerland), the IPCC accepted the SRCCL and its TS and approved its SPM. A Joint Session of the three WGs, in cooperation with the TFI, considered the SPM line-by-line to reach agreement.
IPCC-51: This session (20-24 September 2019, Monaco) accepted the SROCC and its TS, and approved its SPM, following line-by-line approval by a Joint Session of WGs I and II.
IPCC-52: During this session (24-28 February 2020, Paris, France), the IPCC adopted the outline for the AR6 synthesis report, containing a stage-setting introduction and three sections: current status and trends; long-term climate and development futures; and near-term responses in a changing climate. The Panel also adopted the IPCC Gender Policy and Implementation Plan, which, among other things, establishes a Gender Action Team.
IPCC-53: This session (7-11 December 2020), which took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, addressed the IPCC Trust Fund Programme and Budget. The Panel approved the revised budget for 2020 and revised proposed budget for 2021.
IPCC-53 bis: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, during this virtual session (22-26 March 2021) the IPCC adjusted the strategic planning schedule for the AR6 cycle with regard to modalities for the approval plenary of the WGI report and preparations for the election of Bureau members for the AR7 cycle.
IPCC-54: This session (26 July – 6 August 2021) took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic and included the 14th session of WGI. The IPCC approved the SPM and accepted the WGI contribution to AR6, entitled “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis.”
IPCC-55: This session (14-27 February 2022) took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic and included the 12th session of WGII. The IPCC approved the SPM and accepted the WGII contribution to AR6, entitled “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.”
IPCC-56: This session (21 March – 4 April 2022), which took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, included the 14th Session of WGIII. The IPCC approved the SPM and accepted the WGIII contribution to AR6, entitled “Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change.”
On Tuesday, 27 September, IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee welcomed delegates to IPCC-57. He noted the sixth assessment cycle was the IPCC’s busiest ever, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with great impact in raising awareness and providing inputs to relevant multilateral environmental agreements.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas expressed regret that the Synthesis Report (SYR) would not be ready for the 27th meeting of the UNFCCC COP in November 2022. Pointing to unusual weather patterns across the world, he stated that, despite the global pandemic and the war in Ukraine, UN Secretary-General António Guterres believes climate change is this century’s biggest challenge. He said pledges already made must be implemented, with more attention to adaptation, Africa, and other developing countries. He suggested future Special Reports could focus on tipping points and solar radiation management technologies and risks.
In a video message, UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen highlighted the role of science in guiding the world in its response to the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste. She encouraged the Panel to keep speaking up to guide the world to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
In pre-recorded remarks, Ovais Sarmad, UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary, called the scientific evidence provided by the IPCC the “bedrock” of the UNFCCC’s endeavors. He highlighted the importance of building a climate resilient world and raising ambition to keep the 1.5°C temperature limit within reach.
Ambassador Franz Perrez (Switzerland), speaking on behalf of the host country, underscored the importance of delivering an accessible synthesis report that is relevant to the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement by March 2023, emphasized the need to take decisions during IPCC-57 to launch work on the seventh assessment cycle, and said the IPCC cannot become irrelevant for the next phase of climate policymaking.
Several countries took the floor to express solidarity with Ukraine and condemned Russian aggression, saying it violates the UN Charter and other principles of international law.
Adoption of the Agenda
On Tuesday, noting that multiple requests for amendments had been submitted prior to the start of the session, IPCC Secretary Abdalah Mokssit invited delegates to share their proposals in plenary.
FRANCE, supported by LUXEMBOURG, the NETHERLANDS, NORWAY, CANADA, AUSTRALIA, IRELAND, SWITZERLAND, JAPAN, NEW ZEALAND, the US, SWEDEN, the UK, GERMANY, SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS, TANZANIA, SOUTH AFRICA, and IRAN, called for adding an agenda item on process and timing of Bureau elections. LUXEMBOURG urged taking a decision to support a “good transition” to the seventh assessment cycle and having the elections as early as possible.
The NETHERLANDS, supported by many countries, called for discussion of the possible length of the next cycle, noting this would be important for nominations of Co-Chairs. CANADA said it was imperative to take decisions on the timing of Bureau elections and the length of the next cycle and called for more time to be allocated to these issues. The US called for addressing these issues early in the meeting.
SAUDI ARABIA, supported by CHINA, BRAZIL the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, and the RUSSIAN FEDERATION, opposed expanding discussions beyond the size, structure and composition of the IPCC Bureau and any task force bureau. SAUDI ARABIA emphasized that time constraints would prevent adequate discussion of additional issues. The UK noted that numerous issues were listed in Annex II of the report of the ad hoc group on elections (AHGE), including the date for the next elections and duration of the seventh assessment cycle.
GERMANY proposed developing terms of reference for an intersessional working group to meet before IPCC-58 to address items relevant for the election that were not within the AHGE’s mandate. SWITZERLAND underscored the need for the Panel to fulfill its oversight and guiding role and, supported by GHANA, suggested adding a separate agenda item on the date of elections, length of the next cycle, and related matters.
BRAZIL commended the IPCC Bureau for its “outstanding leadership and outcomes” during the sixth assessment cycle, congratulated the AHGE on its report, and, supported by INDONESIA and the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, noted lack of consensus on a new configuration for the Bureau.
BELGIUM, supported by SWEDEN, proposed including a sub-item on the IPCC’s copyright policy, noting the current policy is very restrictive.
INDIA, supported by AZERBAIJAN, called for improving equity in the IPCC process and involvement of developing countries, including by providing hybrid sessions for future work.
On the synthesis report, NORWAY, supported by AUSTRALIA, SWITZERLAND, JAPAN, SWEDEN, and the US called for broadening discussion to include modalities for completing the remaining work and planning for an approval session.
After consultation with the Secretariat, IPCC Chair Lee proposed to: address questions related to copyright under the agenda item “any other business” (AOB); hear a report from the head of the SYR TSU on progress before deciding whether further discussion is needed; establish a contact group on size, structure, and composition of the Bureau; and address issues related to the transition and election process under AOB.
Many countries called for discussing these issues early in the meeting and opposed listing them under AOB. TANZANIA, the US, CANADA, NORWAY, and FRANCE called for dedicated time to discuss these issues early in the meeting. FRANCE stressed that decisions taken at IPCC-53 bis regarding the election process were obsolete due to the delay to the SYR. LUXEMBOURG, DENMARK, and the UK supported FRANCE’s proposal, stressing the need for a clear roadmap and sufficient time for discussion.
SAUDI ARABIA opposed moving these issues forward.
Chair Lee stated that IPCC-53 bis mandated a decision on size, structure, and composition. Secretary Mokssit clarified that the formal name of the AHGE, as it was listed on the provisional agenda, was “the Ad hoc Group on the Size, Structure and Composition of the IPCC Bureau and any Task Force Bureau for the Seventh Assessment Cycle.” Secretary Mokssit suggested sequencing the discussion, focusing first on concluding the work of the ad hoc group under agenda item 5, supported by a contact group meeting outside plenary hours. This could be followed by consideration of the transition to a new cycle, under a new agenda item 5 bis.
Chair Lee maintained that the discussion should be placed under AOB and asked for approval of the agenda as amended.
SWITZERLAND opposed, highlighting that many members had asked for an additional agenda item, including in writing before the session, and asked for clarification from the Legal Officer whether consensus was needed to introduce a new agenda item.
Jennifer Lew Schneider, IPCC Legal Officer, clarified that: it was possible to add agenda items by request of the Panel; decisions under AOB need to be made with reference to a document, however the Panel is the author of its own principles; and decisions are taken by consensus.
NORWAY stressed the importance of involving the Bureau in planning the agenda, lamenting that a Bureau session was planned but not held in preparation for this session. He called for informal consultations to resolve the issue.
NEW ZEALAND reiterated the Secretary’s proposal to introduce an additional agenda item 5 bis, but keep the discussions separate from those on the ad hoc group, stressing the merits of taking things in good sequence but not having them disappear.
The REPUBLIC OF KOREA supported SAUDI ARABIA in prioritizing issues within the mandate of the ad hoc group.
FRANCE asked for reassurance that the agenda item on transition would include the calendar for elections. Chair Lee said the outcomes of the discussion could not be prejudged.
The US, supported by GERMANY and the UK, stressed the IPCC-53 bis decision on election procedures had to be reconsidered by the Panel and called for consideration of the overall timeline.
SAUDI ARABIA reiterated that plans beyond the size, structure, and composition of the Bureau should be discussed under AOB.
Noting lack of consensus on the “right place” to discuss elements related to the transition to the next Bureau, Chair Lee proposed that delegates adopt the agenda as presented in IPCC-LVII/Doc.1, Rev. 2, with the understanding that the Secretariat would consider the best way to address concerns raised by several Member States.
FRANCE said it could not accept the agenda without the addition of an item that would allow discussion of election plans. NORWAY called for the Secretariat to hold consultations.
IPCC Secretary Mokssit requested approval of a “flexible agenda.” FRANCE reiterated its desire to be sure discussions of the elections schedule would take place, and, supported by the US, requested the Secretariat to prepare a written proposal for consideration in plenary.
On Tuesday afternoon, SAUDI ARABIA reported that, with the US, it had co-facilitated a huddle on these issues during the lunch break. She said the huddle had agreed to add a new agenda item on: lessons learned; timing of elections; and the length of the seventh assessment cycle. She said a footnote on the provisional agenda indicated that this item would “conclude after the closing of agenda item 5,” on the size, structure, and composition of the Bureau.
The Secretariat displayed the revised agenda for delegates’ consideration, including the footnote, which stated that this new agenda item would be considered at an “appropriate time allowing enough time for decision.”
The US clarified that the agreement was that the issue would be taken up at 10:00 am on Thursday. SAUDI ARABIA said it had agreed to open the agenda item on Thursday morning but not to include that in the footnote. Chair Lee proposed to remove the reference to the timing from the footnote.
FRANCE said he had agreed on the assurance that the item would be discussed on Thursday morning. Secretary Mokssit said the item would be discussed around 10:30 am and would be included in the programme of work. FRANCE said he would be more comfortable if this were stated in writing. Chair Lee and Secretary Mokssit reiterated that the issue would be addressed in plenary on Thursday morning.
IPCC Vice-Chair Ko Barrett requested clarification on the language of the footnote. Secretary Mokssit explained that the huddle agreed that the item would be opened Thursday morning and conclude after the conclusion of Item 5.
The Panel adopted the agenda as orally amended (IPCC-LVII/Doc.1, Rev. 31).
Approval of the Draft Report of IPCC-56
On Tuesday, IPCC Secretary Mokssit invited delegates to approve the draft report (IPCC-LVII/Doc.4).
Noting an “imbalance” in the closing statements, SWITZERLAND requested clarification as to why one country’s points were given a full paragraph while all other comments were subsumed in another paragraph. Chair Lee assured delegates that the Secretariat strives for balanced representation of interventions.
BELGIUM requested deletion of the words “as per the rules” from a section stating that observers were requested to be silent in contact groups, highlighting its stated objection to this change of practice, which was not approved by the plenary during IPCC-56. Mokssit confirmed that the phrase would be deleted.
With this understanding, the report was approved.
IPCC Trust Fund Programme and Budget
Budget for the years 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2025: Judith Ewa, IPCC Secretariat, introduced documents IPCC-LVII/Doc.2 and IPCC-LVII/Doc.2, Add.1. She highlighted savings in 2022 of approximately CHF 2.2 million, due to the virtual mode of operation and meeting postponements, and an expected balance of CHF 23 million in the Trust Fund by the end of 2022.
IRELAND noted his country hosted the first in-person author meeting for the SYR in April 2022 and asked for this in-kind contribution to be recognized. FINLAND requested inclusion of his country’s contribution to AR6. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA highlighted her country’s continued contribution to the Trust Fund. The Secretariat confirmed all contributions would be included in the report.
BELGIUM requested clarification on: high costs for the publication of the SYR report; whether staff costs are expected to remain constant up to 2025; and the financial implications of an increase in the number of Bureau positions.
The US highlighted the importance of lessons learned regarding virtual and hybrid meetings and suggested convening a Financial Task Team (FiTT) session to understand budgetary implications. SWEDEN suggested discussing information on budgetary implications of different phases of communication work during the FiTT.
VENEZUELA lamented that “unilateral coercive measures” put his country in a difficult position regarding contributions to the IPCC and other international organizations.
SWITZERLAND asked for clarification regarding disproportionately high daily budgets for Bureau sessions compared to plenary sessions, and whether support for communications might not be more urgently needed by the Secretariat than an external liaison officer. WGI Vice-Chair Greg Flato concurred, querying possible resulting shifts in capacity within the Secretariat.
GERMANY requested clarification on the envisaged functions of the additional P-4 position requested by the Secretariat. IPCC Secretary Mokssit explained that the terms of reference (ToR) for the new role are yet to be decided, but the role is intended to take on aspects of work currently being done by several different members of the Secretariat.
On Friday, FiTT Co-Chair Helen Plume presented a draft decision on the IPCC Trust Fund Programme and Budget for the years 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025 (Draft Decision IPCC-LVII- 4). She said the decision encourages member countries to continue contributing or to make first time contributions to the IPCC Trust Fund and, if possible, given the decline in annual voluntary contributions, increase their contributions. She said the decision asks the Secretariat to: develop a report outlining the core functions of the Secretariat and its needs, and explore the possibility of more climate-friendly itineraries.
The decision was adopted.
Final Decision: In its decision (IPCC-LVII-4), IPCC-57:
- approves the revised budget for 2022;
- approves the proposed budget for 2023;
- welcomes with gratitude all contributions, pledges, and in-kind contributions from member countries and encourages all IPCC members to maintain or increase their financial support;
- encourages member countries to make first-time contributions to the IPCC Trust Fund in order to broaden the donor base;
- recognizes the sound financial situation of the IPCC Trust Fund, but notes with concern the decline in the level of annual voluntary contributions and calls on member countries to make and, if possible, increase their annual voluntary contributions;
- decides to continue preparing the budget of the IPCC Trust Fund using the standard costs, bearing in mind that expenditures may be lower than the budget;
- decides to allow the use of the Trust Fund resources in 2022 and 2023 for enhancing security, participation and IT-related needs in meetings, including reimbursing the cost of connectivity improvement, travel-related health and sanitary measures, and other arrangements to enable participation of delegates and experts from developing countries and countries with economies in transition in the activities of the IPCC, if needed, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Audit of the 2021 Financial Statements: On Tuesday, the Secretariat presented the report on the audit (IPCC-LVII/INF/1). The Panel took note of the report.
Admission of Observer Organizations
On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (IPCC-LVIII/Doc.3), explaining that the Secretariat had received 20 applications for observer status, including four UN system organizations and 16 non- or inter-governmental organizations. She noted that while all of the organizations qualify for observer status, two—from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Holy See—required further consideration.
On NATO, she said that some members had expressed reservations related to: the benefits of NATO admission; its status as a military organization; and the non-scientific aspects of the organization.
Noting that consideration of the Holy See’s application had been deferred from IPCC-52, she said that the Holy See had requested admission to the IPCC as a non-member Observer State with enhanced procedural rights, including: the right to speak in turn rather than after participating states; the right to have its communications circulated to participating states; the right to provide comments on the government/expert review of IPCC reports and technical papers and the final review stage of the Summary for Policymakers; the right of reply; and the right to raise points of order.
SOUTH AFRICA, CHINA, CUBA, VENZUELA, IRAN, NICARAGUA, ANGOLA, and the RUSSIAN FEDERATION opposed inclusion of NATO as an observer. CHINA said that NATO is the biggest military alliance in the world and has little to do with climate change. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said the organization does not have any competency in the field of climatology.
GERMANY, AUSTRALIA, CANADA, the UK, DENMARK, NORWAY, and the US supported NATO’s application. The US emphasized that the process has been followed and there are no additional criteria to be applied. CANADA said it would be inappropriate to deviate from the process for evaluating applicants’ competency. AUSTRALIA highlighted NATO’s interest in climate change security issues and disaster risk management. The UK cautioned against changing procedures or criteria in an ad hoc way.
On the Holy See, the US, supported by GERMANY and NORWAY, called for further discussion to ensure that the requested rights and responsibilities are in line with the IPCC rules of procedure. SENEGAL queried the rules related to applications for funding, noting that allowing an observer to apply as a state would create unfair competition. SWITZERLAND said the Holy See’s rights should be aligned with other UN processes. The UK said some of the Holy See’s requests exceed the rights granted to the EU.
The IPCC Legal Officer clarified that NATO meets the threshold for observer status, specifically through a climate action plan and platform it is developing. She further clarified that the Vatican is treated as an observer state and is seeking to be treated analogously to the EU.
CHINA reiterated its opposition to granting observer status to NATO, saying that the IPCC is a scientific platform and allowing a military organization to join would not be conducive to the scientific journey.
The US underscored that issues of climate change and national security are highly relevant to the policy community, said objections seemed to be based on the organization specifically and not the scope of its work, and asked that the record reflect that there was not a broader objection to the kinds of organizations that can apply for observer status.
NORWAY said it was not acceptable to reject an application based on lack of consensus at one meeting. Secretary Mokssit proposed suspending the admission of NATO and the Holy See pending further consideration. The Panel agreed to treat the Holy See and NATO as pending cases.
Report of the Ad Hoc Group on the Size, Structure and Composition of the IPCC Bureau and any Task Force Bureau for the Seventh Assessment Cycle
On Tuesday, Chair Lee introduced discussion on the report of the Ad hoc Group on the Size, Structure, and Composition of the IPCC Bureau and Any Task Force Bureau for the Seventh Assessment Cycle, previously referred to as the AHGE, and co-facilitated by Malak Al-Nory (Saudi Arabia) and Farhan Akhtar (US). The Co-Facilitators highlighted considerations raised by members, matters for decisions, and proposals for changes to the Bureau, including:
- the number of IPCC Chairs and Vice-Chairs, including potential regional allocations of these positions;
- whether to add TG-Data Co-Chairs to the IPCC Bureau;
- regional balance of WG Co-Chairs and other considerations of the composition of the Bureau;
- overall regional balance;
- number and distribution of WG Vice-Chairs; and
- the overall size of the Bureau.
Alluding to discussions on the transition to the seventh assessment cycle, Akhtar noted the Panel is also invited to take note of compiled additional considerations outside of the mandate of the ad hoc group (IPCC-LVII/Doc.6, Annex II).
Many countries expressed support for maintaining the Bureau’s current size, structure, and composition.
COMOROS called for better representation of African countries. WGIII Vice-Chair Ramón Pichs-Madruga stressed the need for geographical balance in the Bureau and among authors, and for efficiency.
IPCC Vice-Chair Barrett, on behalf of the Gender Action Team and supported by WGI Vice-Chair Carolina Vera and WGIII Vice-Chair Pichs-Madruga, called for gender equity.
The REPUBLIC OF KOREA favored maintaining one IPCC Chair, saying this role should be scientifically and politically neutral and not count towards regional representation.
WGI Vice-Chair Vera called for developing criteria for deciding on Bureau changes and, supported by many countries, called for a more formal and procedural role for WG Vice-Chairs. WGI Vice-Chair Sergey Semenov said the Vice-Chairs’ functions include chairing, addressing conflicts of interest, and receiving data and generalizing it for presentation. He said they should also monitor the membership of the IPCC.
When discussions continued on Wednesday, many Bureau members lamented “underutilization” of the talent within the Bureau during the last cycle and called for: reflections of the current Bureau being taken into consideration in designing the next Bureau; a handover workshop between incoming and outgoing Bureaus early in the seventh cycle; clear ToR for Vice-Chairs and WG Vice-Chairs; and considering diversity of skills, gender, and age in addition to regional representation.
Mark Howden, WGII Vice-Chair, called for considering what is fit for purpose looking forward, rather than what worked in the past. IPCC Vice-Chair Youba Sokona called for discussing the workplan, stressing that the structure and composition of the Bureau depends on future work. He cautioned that continuing as during past cycles may threaten the pertinence of IPCC’s work, since reality has changed.
Edwin Aldrian, WGI Vice-Chair, stressed the importance of intra-regional balance and suggested term limits for Bureau members, with ANGOLA suggesting two-cycle limits.
CHINA supported maintaining the current structure and clarifying ToRs for the Vice-Chairs and WG Vice-Chairs.
WGI Vice-Chair Flato lauded the efficiency of each IPCC Vice-Chair serving as a senior connector to one WG during AR6. He cited procedural challenges, since TG Data Chairs are appointed, not elected, and said the current cooperation worked well.
WGIII Vice-Chair Taha Zatari recalled the intense process that led to the current governance structure, saying it should be “given a chance.”
Seeing no strong argument for fundamental change in structure, WGIII Vice-Chair Andy Reisinger called for measures to improve gender balance and ensure that all regions are represented by Vice-Chairs in all WGs.
WGI Co-Chair Valerie Masson-Delmotte lamented an increasing disconnect between the IPCC and “the harsh reality outside.” She called for measures to ensure the IPCC is fit for purpose, including changes in WG structure and envisaged products, better addressing gender inequalities in governance and assessments, and consideration of people at the science-policy interface and early career researchers for Bureau positions. WGI Vice-Chair Jan Fuglestvedt stressed the importance of lessons learned from the current Bureau.
SWITZERLAND called for: considering representation of all regions at the highest level and making WG Vice-Chairs liaison focal points to improve cross-WG collaboration.
WGIII Co-Chair Jim Skea, supported by PERU, suggested that the role of WG Vice-Chairs could include work on integration, such as with the Special Reports and the common glossary and boxes across AR6.
Task Force Bureau Co-Chair Eduardo Calvo Buendía: opposed establishing Co-Chairs for the IPCC; emphasized the importance of regional representation in working groups and organizational leadership; and said form should always be subject to function.
WGII Co-Chair Debra Roberts asked how the IPCC can use science to change the world and, supported by SOUTH AFRICA and others, noted that Vice-Chairs play an increasingly important role that is not fully specified. She underscored that the system only works because of people’s contributions, but the environment is often unwelcoming, and called for creating enabling conditions to support the engagement of youth, women and other groups.
WGIII Vice-Chair Nagmeldin G.E. Mahmoud called for maintaining the current structure of the Bureau and requesting the current Bureau to reflect on and share its experiences with the next Bureau.
IPCC Vice-Chair Barrett emphasized that the work of the IPCC has evolved, calling for sharing the workload in new ways at the highest levels. She said the IPCC cannot be silent during this critical decade of action, should consider innovative ways to structure its provision of science, and needs to know what it is tasked to do before it decides how the Bureau should look.
WGIII Vice-Chair Diana Ürge-Vorsatz called for considering how the IPCC could be improved to reflect new challenges, said the IPCC could work differently in its seventh assessment cycle to meet the critical needs of this decade, and noted the Bureau structure could be designed to meet these goals.
WGII Vice-Chair Zatari said that IPCC should focus on its main function—the update of scientific knowledge on climate change—and have scientific criteria for acceptance to the Bureau. He stressed that the IPCC is an independent body that should focus on the science, not follow the UNFCCC.
Many countries, including the UK, TANZANIA, JAPAN, FRANCE, and GERMANY, supported encouraging a strong hand-over between the current and future Bureaus, such as asking the current Bureau to produce a report on lessons learned during the sixth cycle to be passed to the future Bureau, and/or holding a meeting between the old and new Bureaus to develop a roadmap for the seventh cycle. GERMANY, supported by NEW ZEALAND, the NETHERLANDS, and PERU, suggested establishing an intersessional process to consider the Bureau’s role at IPCC-57.
CANADA called for regional representation across the Bureau as a whole rather than by prescribing representation across specific positions and said establishing IPCC Co-Chairs would demonstrate that leadership within the IPCC is anchored in principles of teamwork, collaboration, consensus-building, and gender equity.
NORWAY opposed increasing the size of the IPCC Bureau and said: the TFI Bureau should maintain its size, structure and composition; the TFI Co-Chairs should keep their seats on the IPCC Bureau; having two IPCC Chairs would broaden the knowledge base at the top level, among other benefits; and emphasized the importance of providing nominated individuals with the resources to perform their functions well.
INDIA said the Bureau as currently structured has withstood the test of time and supported maintaining three Vice-Chairs but opposed specifying their roles in advance. INDIA, GHANA, SWEDEN, KENYA, TANZANIA, the NETHERLANDS, PERU, and SOUTH AFRICA favored keeping one Chair.
Many countries supported exploring the vision and work programme for the seventh assessment cycle. Numerous countries, including AUSTRALIA, JAPAN, GERMANY, and NEW ZEALAND, suggested focusing on new, policy-relevant products during this critical decade.
SWEDEN, with KENYA, TANZANIA, the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, MAURITIUS, SUDAN, PANAMA, SOUTH AFRICA, and many others, stressed gender and generational balance in the Bureau, noting that governments have great responsibility in this effort. Many countries also stressed regional balance, with MAURITIUS urging particular consideration of small island developing states’ (SIDS) needs. ALGERIA, supported by the US, suggested developing ToRs for the Vice-Chairs.
ALGERIA, ECUADOR, BRAZIL, COLOMBIA and PERU called for maintaining the status quo and improving the representation of women and regional balance. ECUADOR opposed any proposal that would decrease representation of South America. ARGENTINA, VENEZUELA and URUGUAY favored the current structure of the Bureau and ensuring that every region is represented in each WG.
SOUTH AFRICA, with ZIMBABWE and NIGERIA, favored the status quo with one Chair and spoke against age restrictions.
ZIMBABWE stressed diversity and inclusion of early career scientists.
HUNGARY expressed regret there was no Bureau meeting before the Panel session, highlighting the importance of learning from the current Bureau. She called for improving the status quo, lauded advances in the balance between developing and developed countries, and, with UKRAINE, welcomed the idea of shared leadership.
TÜRKIYE said the many alternatives in the ad hoc group’s report were confusing and time-consuming.
UKRAINE conveyed gratitude to the IPCC from the government and people of her country and asked for a moment of silence for all the victims of the war, which was observed. She highlighted the policy impact of the IPCC.
The BAHAMAS supported the status quo, stressing balance within the Bureau for gender and between developing and developed countries.
MADAGASCAR said it was essential that the IPCC evolve with the times and improve structures and working methods to reflect the mandate of the Panel, taking stock of the lessons learned from the past three decades. He highlighted equitable regional representation and defining roles and responsibilities of Bureau members.
Chair Lee established a contact group, co-facilitated by Al-Nory and Akhtar, to continue discussions.
On Thursday, Co-Facilitators Al-Nory and Akhtar reported progress on narrowing options for Bureau structure and size. They noted:
- general support for maintaining the status quo of one IPCC Chair;
- varying views on number and regional allocation of IPCC and WG Vice-Chairs, with different implications for Bureau size;
- no consensus on some countries’ calls to add TG-Data Co-Chairs to the Bureau; and
- varying opinions on using a hard rule or a softer approach to capture gender balance in electing Bureau members.
In the ensuing discussion, views converged around three options. TANZANIA, supported by ZAMBIA, REPUBLIC OF CONGO, CAMEROON, ANGOLA, BRAZIL, GUINEA, KENYA, the UK, SOUTH AFRICA, ALGERIA, BENIN, MAURITIUS, SUDAN. BURUNDI, ETHIOPIA, CUBA, GERMANY, SAUDI ARABIA, the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, INDIA, ZIMBABWE, ALBANIA, and FRANCE, favored maintaining the status quo, with one IPCC Chair and three Vice-Chairs. Many, however, expressed flexibility on removing Vice-Chairs from the regional count.
NEW ZEALAND, the US, AUSTRALIA, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, IRAN, INDONESIA, SAINT LUCIA, and JAMAICA, favored a “status quo plus” option, removing IPCC Vice-Chairs from the regional representation count and giving each WG an extra Vice-Chair to help with efficiency and regional balance issues.
MOROCCO, ALGERIA, JAPAN, SWEDEN, IRELAND, ESTONIA, NORWAY, and others expressed flexibility for either option. LUXEMBOURG, UKRAINE, and NORWAY also urged keeping open the possibility of creating two IPCC Co-Chairs in the future.
SWEDEN, with TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, IRELAND, ESTONIA, FRANCE, SOUTH AFRICA, and AZERBAIJAN, called for strongly reminding governments to remember different dimensions, including gender, in preparing for elections. UKRAINE called for a female IPCC Chair. INDONESIA, objecting to any form of “favoritism,” preferred “maintaining democracy” in the role.
KENYA, MOROCCO, ETHIOPIA, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, ZIMBABWE, GHANA, and TANZANIA asked for more information on term limits, stressing the importance of inclusivity and involving early career scientists.
On Thursday night, the contact group considered the “status quo” and “status quo plus” options.
On Friday morning, contact group Co-Facilitator Al-Nory reported no consensus had been reached. She noted a suggestion to address the lack of representation of small regions in WGs through “creative solutions” by the Panel, as needed.
TANZANIA, with SOUTH AFRICA, ARGENTINA, and ANGOLA, called for convergence on the status quo plus option. SAUDI ARABIA preferred maintaining the status quo, without removing IPCC Vice-Chairs from regional representation.
Upon request from AUSTRALIA, Secretary Mokssit agreed to present a draft text for plenary to consider.
On Friday afternoon, contact group Co-Facilitator Akhtar presented the draft decision, Ad-hoc Group on the Size, Structure and Composition of the IPCC Bureau and any Task Force Bureau for the Seventh Assessment Cycle (IPCC-LVII-5), which amends Annex B of Appendix C to the Principles Governing IPCC Work to specify that “where a region is not represented in any given formation within the Bureau, the Region without representation will decide on the additional position in that formulation.”
GERMANY, WGIII Vice-Chair Reisinger, and MAURITIUS requested clarification on the possibility of changes in total Bureau members resulting from the new provision.
WGII Vice-Chair Zatari explained the process, saying the regions nominate candidates and elections will only take place if regions cannot decide.
SWEDEN queried how the provision would work in the case of the Executive Committee. After informal consultations, the text was revised to state that “When a region is not represented in a WG, an additional position in that WG will be added for that region.”
A footnote specifying the change of the total number of Bureau members was developed with interventions from NEW ZEALAND, WGIII Vice-Chair Zatari, FRANCE, ARGENTINA, IRELAND, US, BAHAMAS, TANZANIA, BRAZIL, NORWAY, MAURITIUS and SAUDI ARABIA.
INDIA favored the current Bureau composition, cautioning that implementation of the proposed provision could result in two rounds of elections. Responding to INDIA, the US said the language would create the position, but the Panel would follow established procedures.
Secretary Mokssit asked delegates to concur with the amendment, stating that its implementation would be in line with current practice. WGIII Vice-Chair Reisinger explained the sequence of the elections, saying once the Chair, Vice-Chairs, and Task Force Bureau (TFB) Chairs were elected, it would be determined whether the clause would be triggered.
HUNGARY, supported by WGIII Vice-Chair Ürge-Vorsatz, asked whether gender and intraregional balance would be considered in the decision document, given strong support in the contact group. NEW ZEALAND cautioned against a proposal by Secretary Mokssit to include consideration of intraregional balance in Annex B. KENYA asked about their suggestion concerning term limits for Bureau members.
The Panel approved the amendment to Annex B.
Final Decision: In its decision (IPCC-LVII-5,) the IPCC decides that Annex B of Appendix C to the Principles Governing IPCC Work will be amended as follows: after the sentence “Each Region is represented in each of the following four formations within the Bureau: the Executive Committee, Working Group I, Working Group II, Working Group III.” the following phrase is added: “When a Region is not represented in a Working Group, an additional position in that Working Group will be added for that Region.” with a footnote specifying that “In this case, the overall size of the IPCC Bureau will increase accordingly.”
Report of the IPCC Conflict of Interest Committee
On Friday, IPCC Vice-Chair Sokona reported on the work of the Conflict of Interest Committee, noting that one conflict of interest had been identified with respect to an author who had contributed to WGIII.
SAUDI ARABIA asked if there had been an investigation into the work done in the period before the conflict of interest was identified, and if steps had been taken to rectify the impact.
WGIII Co-Chair Skea reported that a thorough investigation determined that there was no possibility of influence, because the author’s work had been completed and submitted prior to the person’s acceptance of a consultancy. Skea said the Committee admonished the author but took no further action, as there was nothing to rectify.
Vice-Chair Sokona highlighted the challenges of finding suitable meeting dates for the Committee, which comprises all elected members of the Executive Committee, one representative of UNEP, and one representative of WMO. Vice-Chair Sokona proposed to adjust the quorum requirement from two-thirds of the Executive Committee to one-half, saying this would allow the committee to convene more frequently.
SAUDI ARABIA opposed this proposal.
Chair Lee confirmed that the quorum requirement would not change. The Panel took note of the report.
Working Group I contribution to AR6: On Wednesday, WGI Co-Chair Masson-Delmotte reported on the status of WGI’s contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC-LVII/INF.4, Rev. 1), noting that:
- the WGI AR6 contribution has been delivered to the publisher;
- TSU work has ramped up;
- translation of the SPM and Glossary had been finalized; and
- work on the Technical Summary and Frequently Asked Questions was underway.
She highlighted implementation of the FAIR (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability and Reuse) data principles; author and chapter scientist surveys on the AR6 process and development of lessons learned and recommendations for AR7; and work with external advisors for inclusive practices and diversity, which also led to a Code of Conduct.
Many delegations lauded the WGI report and commended the Co-Chairs and WGI for outstanding work.
MAURITIUS inquired about quality control under the FAIR data principles and noted that the regional distribution of chapter scientists was indiscernible due to the color code used on a pie chart.
BELGIUM requested an update on the publication of special reports and expressed concern about the cost of the report.
NORWAY appreciated the outreach activities and material, especially the regional information, as well as the “end of cycle” legacy and handover documents.
SWITZERLAND lauded the involvement of WGI Bureau members in outreach activities and queried how this can be assured for all regions and across WGs. He asked whether joint communication efforts had been attempted, and how the sectors and regions targeted with dedicated fact sheets or briefings were decided. He expressed appreciation for WGI involvement in collaboration with IPBES.
INDIA expressed concern that key messages were being conveyed in an unbalanced way, especially concerning issues of equity and development called for respecting the nuances of the SPM text. He lamented that the error protocol allowed incorrect information to be circulated.
TANZANIA called for feedback from chapter scientists for the next cycle.
In her response, Masson-Delmotte said that: the curation process is critical to assure the quality of the data in the FAIR process; work on the hand-over was conditional on overlap between TSUs and continued financial support; and surveys could also be distributed to focal points. She reflected on the possibility of an analysis of media and outreach activities across WGs. She reassured INDIA that, while the press conference was built on advice from communications specialists to be suitable for a general audience, other presentations emphasized the remaining carbon budget.
Secretary Mokssit confirmed that printed reports will be delivered to focal points in due course.
Lamenting the devastating floods in his country, PAKISTAN called for experts to assess the conditions that have led to such extreme events, emphasizing that Pakistan is one of the most climate vulnerable countries despite its minimal contributions to GHG emissions.
The Panel took note of the report.
Working Group II Contribution to AR6: On Wednesday, WGII Co-Chair Roberts presented document IPCC-LVII/INF.3 on the status of WGII’s contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report. Stating that WGII is six months behind WGI in schedule, Roberts highlighted:
- SPM write-shops and drafting meetings held to prepare for the approval session and the floor draft;
- the approval session;
- the microsite including ancillary resources;
- the online publication of the full report on 3 August 2022, with the 3056-page report being printed in three volumes;
- outreach and media materials, slide deck, photo collections and individual media training to support authors;
- a joint WGII-WGIII communications webinar for their authors’ home institution press officers to get them involved in the AR6 outreach;
- the TSU taking steps to produce regionally-focused outreach and communication material;
- very high level of engagement at the recent UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) session, including input to the Global Goal on Adaptation; and
- the International Council on Monuments and Sites-UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ICOMOS-UNESCO-IPCC) Co-Sponsored Meeting on Culture, Heritage and Climate Change, with a report being currently produced.
SAUDI ARABIA raised concerns about the report from the co-sponsored meeting, stating that: the outputs were not aligned with IPCC rules and procedures; some sections did not meet IPCC standards; and IPCC’s name should not be used on reports that are not approved.
AUSTRALIA lauded the cross-WG collaboration, commending the outreach activities and products intended to reach audiences across a wider spectrum.
INDIA reiterated his concerns regarding the communication of key findings, citing the example of climate resilient development in the WGII presentation indicating that mitigation and adaptation were to happen simultaneously and at the same place, which is not substantiated in the report.
MAURITIUS requested a graphic depicting contributions from chapter scientists from different regions for WGII.
In her response, Roberts: said that all IPCC rules and procedures were followed during production of the report for the co-sponsored meeting, which includes a disclaimer and no IPCC logo; highlighted the WGII report’s emphasis on context dependency and regional differentiation; and said the process of surveying chapter scientists was still underway.
The Panel took note of the report.
Working Group III Contribution to AR6: On Thursday, WGIII Co-Chair Skea presented the report on the status of this work (IPCC-LVII/INF.10), noting that the group had received almost 5,000 comments on its SPM. He highlighted outreach activities, including: input into the 2022 Bonn Climate Change Conference; participation in events for policymakers, business and civil society on virtually all continents; and events planned for UNFCCC COP 27. He underscored that part of the WGIII Technical Support Unit does not have contractual support beyond early 2023, and called for a clear end point for the AR6 cycle to facilitate negotiations with funding partners.
INDIA, supported by MAURITIUS, expressed concern that communications of key statements are unbalanced, said assumptions underpinning scenarios are not addressed in presentations, and called for clarifying the role of development in relation to mitigation and adaptation. WGIII Co-Chair Skea: noted the challenges of distilling relevant messages for specific audiences; said equity considerations would feature in a workshop on scenarios planned for 2023; and called on India to put forward nominations that would help set the path for the next assessment cycle.
MAURITIUS called for a pictorial review of participating climate scientists from different regions. WGIII Co-Chair Skea confirmed this would be included in WGIII’s report for the next session.
IPCC-57 took note of the report.
Synthesis Report of AR6: Jose Romero, Head of the Technical Support Unit on the Synthesis Report (SYR TSU), presented the progress report (IPCC-LVII/INF.6), outlining near-term deadlines and progress toward production.
Many delegates expressed appreciation for the authors and members of the SYR TSU.
GERMANY, supported by FRANCE, the NETHERLANDS, CANADA, BELGIUM, the US, LUXEMBOURG, AUSTRALIA, NORWAY, and SWEDEN, stressed its regret that the SYR and approval session were delayed, citing serious implications for both external audiences and the timing of the next cycle; requested information about the agreed modalities for completing the SYR; and, to improve the IPCC’s processes, suggested addressing the reasons for the delays intersessionally.
The NETHERLANDS called for in-depth evaluation of the causes of the delay and said he is not confident that the SYR would be ready by March. BELGIUM noted with concern the number of TSU staff who have left, said TSUs are operating with reduced capacity, and requested consideration of the implications for finalizing the SYR. LUXEMBOURG emphasized the need to keep to the new timeline. Noting that the core writing team had considered comments on the first order draft in April, AUSTRALIA said she understood there had not been much activity since and asked how many comments had been addressed.
CANADA expressed “immense disappointment” with the delay and, acknowledging their lack of complete knowledge of the “crisis that unfolded” in May and June with the SYR TSU, lauded the collective leadership of the IPCC in resolving the situation. Underscoring the importance of good governance, SWITZERLAND said the official reason given to Panel members for the delay—“management issues”—is not enough. He asked the High-level Consultative Group (HLCG) to reflect on the reasons for the delays and their implications. JAMAICA and SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS underscored the need for transparency.
Many countries called for the reports of the 61st and 62nd Bureau meetings to be made available to the Panel immediately.
WGI Co-Chair Masson-Delmotte said key data will become increasingly outdated and the SYR should include updates based on current WMO datasets. She urged the SYR team to stop scheduling meetings on short notice, emphasizing this is not best practice for including everyone with relevant expertise.
Anna Pirani, Head of the WGI TSU, stressed the absence of a strategic schedule for the preparation of the SYR and approval, lamented the lack of an end-of-cycle timeline, and said staff have left as a result. SOUTH AFRICA highlighted challenges including the loss of TSU staff and the need to budget for the extended period. WGII Co-Chair Hans-Otto Pörtner noted that, while funding covers the current plans for approval, the flexibility and availability of TSU staff is constrained. He called for definitive planning for the handover of TSUs to the next generation.
CHINA called on delegates to focus on the SYR, saying this is not the time to lodge complaints or regrets. INDIA said the IPCC should not labor on process issues and called for the SYR to be easy to read, understand, and act on, with a message of optimism rather than doom and gloom.
TANZANIA expressed confidence in the Chair’s leadership and, in order to facilitate government approval, suggested the Secretariat organize a session for the authors to explain figures to focal points. HUNGARY highlighted the value of circulating figures in writing to allow policymakers to test them at home. The US, supported by AUSTRALIA, requested the TSU to extend the eight-week review period by one week.
Chair Lee reported on the work of the HLCG, which was established by the Bureau in June to consult with authors and produce an agreed production schedule. He said the new schedule, including production of a final draft for governments and an approval date, is now official.
IPCC Vice-Chair Barrett noted the “abrupt change” in key SYR TSU personnel in May 2022, after which intense efforts took place to: assure authors and governments that the work would go forward; understand authors’ needs; and re-establish trust. She and Chair Lee noted the HLCG is now dormant but will have a role in the SYR approval process.
In response to requests to make the 61st and 62nd Bureau meeting reports available on Papersmart, Secretary Mokssit said the deadline for Bureau members to submit comments is 30 September 2022, and the Bureau must approve the drafts before they can be shared. He said a pre-approved draft could be posted if the Bureau agreed. WGII Vice-Chair Zatari cautioned that, according to IPCC rules, the Bureau must approve the reports prior to their release and requested a Bureau meeting. WGIII Vice-Chair Reisinger, supported by FRANCE, requested Chair Lee to call an extraordinary Bureau meeting during IPCC-57 to approve the reports and thus enable their release to the Panel.
FRANCE noted that, due to the production delays, some of the results presented in the SYR will be obsolete, and called for updating data related to global temperatures and atmospheric concentrations. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA said the delay could be an opportunity to improve the completeness of the report. The Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) supported updating figures to provide access to the latest climate science available, saying people everywhere are seeking to identify urgently needed transformations.
WGII Vice-Chair Semenov cautioned against overdramatizing the situation and urged inclusion of only very limited data revisions because the SYR will not have traceability to activities, only to the outcomes included in the SPM. ESTONIA, however, noted that some data in the report will be outdated when the SPM is approved and requested updates where possible.
NORWAY suggested allowing updates on global temperatures and atmospheric GHG concentrations, with possible presentation of further updated data when the report is released. WGI Co-Chair Masson-Delmotte said these datasets could be highlighted in the longer report and cited in a footnote in the SPM to make them traceable and transparent, in compliance with the IPCC rules.
Chair Lee said that the IPCC principles and procedures indicate that the maximum time between the release of the first report and availability of the last report is 18 months, which would be February 2023, so the SYR SPM approval will still be around the 18-month range. He said the SYR is based on WG findings, and if the Panel desires an update for the SYR it must decide to revise the rules and procedures to give a mandate for that.
The NETHERLANDS said using data outdated by only one month violates IPCC rules and urged use of any data already published by the WMO as the latest factual information available. FRANCE noted that many climate-related phenomena were not included in WGI’s report and that not including available updated data undermines IPCC’s credibility. CANADA supported updating key climate indicators but requested assurance from the WG Co-Chairs that updates would be transparent and fully explained.
WGII Vice-Chair Zatari cautioned there would be consequences for updating data, emphasizing that the approved WGI report was the basis of the WGII and WGIII reports. Supporting Vice-Chair Zatari, the US, with IRELAND and MAURITIUS, said the SYR’s information would inevitably be outdated given the procedures in place and that this must be taken into account in future cycles if they include an SYR. He cautioned against taking a decision at IPCC-57 to update some figures and not others, particularly without seeing the draft report and without understanding the numbers and the differences between what is in the 2021 WGI report and what would be published in the future. He noted there is already a process of review and approval where such issues can be raised and urged delegates to trust that process, which will allow updates to be made. He said the other WGs have datasets that could also be updated and deciding on this at IPCC-57 could make the authors’ jobs harder.
WGIII Vice-Chair Reisinger cautioned delegates not to ask authors to do this extra work and then decide to reject it summarily, as happened with WGIII regarding updates to nationally determined contributions. Supported by TANZANIA, he asked Chair Lee to provide guidance to the authors to avoid unnecessary work.
Chair Lee said discussions on updating data would be noted in the IPCC-57 report.
SYR TSU Head Jose Romero then reported on the SYR TSU process, noting that almost 10,000 comments were received on the previous draft. He proposed holding webinars in December and January to help governments understand the figures and give initial feedback to the authors.
Chair Lee asked the Panel to take note of the SYR progress report. NORWAY objected, and suggested continuing deliberations once the Bureau reports were available. He asked for guidance regarding the intersessional work that had been suggested. Chair Lee said he would consult with Secretary Mokssit on the modalities and items to consider intersessionally.
Delegates resumed discussion of this item on Friday, following the posting of the reports of the 61st and 62nd Bureau meetings (BUR-LXIII/Doc.2, Rev.1 and BUR-LXIII/Doc.3, Rev.1).
The NETHERLANDS said lessons learned from the reports include avoiding a double role for the IPCC Chair in chairing high-level meetings and heading the SYR TSU. He recommended a role for the Co-Chairs of the WGs, with the IPCC Chair guiding the IPCC as a whole. Chair Lee responded that this procedure was followed for AR6.
The Panel took note of the report.
Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Emissions: On Thursday, the Co-Chairs of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFI) presented their progress report (IPCC-LVII/INF.5, Rev.1).
TFI Co-Chair Calvo Buendía said preparatory work mandated during the sixth assessment cycle for the methods report on short-lived climate forcers (SLCF) will be concluded with the report on the 3rd Expert Meeting on SLCFs, which will be released in due course. He said outcomes of the preparatory work will serve as the basis for discussion at the Scoping Meeting for the Methodology Report scheduled for the seventh assessment cycle.
Calvo Buendía highlighted that the TFI is improving the IPCC Inventory Software, noting that a new beta version is currently being tested, and said an expert workshop was organized to collect data and user feedback in advance of the expected public release at UNFCCC COP27. He thanked the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for collaborating in the production of add-ons to the IPCC software for Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use and land extensions. He said TFI also initiated work to facilitate interoperability between tools of the IPCC inventory software and reporting tools for the Paris Agreement.
TFI Co-Chair Kiyoto Tanabe highlighted a decision by the third UNFCCC Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) in Glasgow in 2021 that invites the IPCC to a technical training workshop for the inventory software and linkages with the UNFCCC reporting tool. He said the current Bureau is not in a position to recommend how to respond, since this relates to the seventh cycle, but they are concerned that: training and capacity building are not part of the TFI mandate; the large scale would have significant budgetary implications; and the UNFCCC Secretariat and national focal points would be in better position to identify and select invitees.
Co-Chair Tanabe also reported on work to maintain, improve and promote the Emission Factor Database (EFDB), including the selection of new members of EFDB Editorial Board. He highlighted an Expert Meeting on Use of Atmospheric Observation Data in Emission Inventories held at the WMO Headquarters in Geneva, earlier in September 2022, saying the meeting provided a very good opportunity to promote mutual understanding between inventory experts and atmospheric scientists.
NEW ZEALAND, PERU, and the US supported IPCC engagement with the UNFCCC. CANADA, supported by GERMANY, encouraged the TFB Co-Chairs to work with the UNFCCC to identify a way forward and called for an efficient transition from AR6 to AR7 so this work is not left unsupported. The TFI Co-Chairs clarified that the TFI could participate if it were organized by the UNFCCC and said this should be dealt with by the next Co-Chairs.
UKRAINE asked whether there is any methodology to account for the high atmospheric carbon emissions resulting from rockets and other explosions related to Russia’s invasion of her country. Co-Chair Tanabe clarified that any anthropogenic emissions occurring in a country should be included in national GHG inventories, including those related to military actions. FWCC welcomed a process to ensure that all military emissions are included in national GHG inventories, noting that reporting is currently voluntary.
Citing the importance of avoiding delays to the methodology report, NORWAY asked if preparations could begin immediately, including by seeking nominations for participation in the scoping meeting. After some discussion, the Panel agreed that the current Co-Chairs could seek the nominations and the next Co-Chairs would set a date for the scoping meeting.
INDIA highlighted the need for compatibility between IPCC and UNFCCC software; said emission factors should be based on peer reviewed field data, not just projections; and, supported by GUINEA, emphasized the importance of training and capacity building. CAMEROON called for a clear mandate for the IPCC to support capacity building, perhaps focusing on focal points to support inventories of GHGs. BENIN underscored the need for training and better equipment in Central and West Africa in particular. GUATEMALA underscored the value of guidelines to support GHG inventories.
TOGO welcomed the TFI’s efforts to improve methodologies and data on GHG inventories and asked whether developing countries could access satellite data. Co-Chair Tanabe confirmed that it would address this issue.
WGI Vice-Chair Aldrian called for guidelines for inventories of coastal areas. Co-Chair Tanabe said that current IPCC guidelines do not cover the ocean and said this could be future work for the TFI.
The Panel took note of the report.
Task Group on Data Support for Climate Change Assessments: On Friday morning, the Co-Chairs of the Task Group on Data Support for Climate Change Assessments (TG Data) presented their progress report (IPCC-LVII/INF.7, Rev.1).
TG Data Co-Chair Sebastian Vicuña highlighted: activities of the Data Distribution Center (DDC); regional outreach webinars organized jointly with WGI and the start of outreach activities for WGIII in liaison with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), with hands-on guidance in the use of the respective data tools, such as the interactive atlas and the scenario explorer; TG Data work on FAIR guidelines and licensing recommendations; the new DDC website and progress on data curation; and efforts to prepare code used for AR6 Figures to be made available on a GitHub repository.
Co-Chair Vicuña expressed concerns about uncertain funding for the DDC and, noting the benefits of ensuring long-term stability and avoiding proprietary lock-in and funder influence on the assessments, suggested that a dedicated fund could be established.
In ensuing discussions, WGII Co-Chair Pörtner inquired about efforts to improve representation of WGII data. SAUDI ARABIA, supported by INDIA, suggested development of a tool for adaptation data for AR7. ECUADOR called for balance in methodologies, with a view to the Global Goal for Adaptation.
FRANCE, supported by SWITZERLAND and BELGIUM, emphasized that the work of TG Data is instrumental to the IPCC and encouraged the Secretariat to improve its visibility in their outreach activities. UKRAINE invited delegations to promote TG Data resources, including the Interactive Atlas, in their own regions.
The US, supported by BELGIUM, stressed growing needs for data access and the need for solid funding. He encouraged the Secretariat to explore partnerships with the private sector or foundations. CANADA suggested integrating TG Data into the core activities of the IPCC with the option to provide partial funding through the Trust Fund. GERMANY noted a draft FiTT decision from this meeting that requests the Secretariat and Bureau to engage with TG Data on future funding.
SWITZERLAND inquired about the varied number of datasets across WGs and ways to increase data downloads in certain regions.
INDIA stressed the importance of compatibility of data between the IPCC and UNFCCC, pointing to the need for synergies in enabling retrieval of data; availability of adaptation data; and ensuring that data are consistent with the error protocol.
In his response, Vicuña highlighted that WGII was equally represented in TG Data, including data curation and FAIR implementation, and that a data catalogue will be posted for WGII. Since WGII does not have a data tool, he said no dedicated outreach was organized for hands-on activity; however, development of some type of WGII capability and the use of methodologies would be included in the TG Co-Chairs’ recommendations for AR7.
The Panel took note of the report.
Communication and Outreach Activities: On Friday, Andrej Mahecic, Head of Communications and Media Relations, reported on the communication and outreach activities undertaken since March 2021 (IPCC-LVII/INF.2). He highlighted: work to enhance outreach to new regions, with an emphasis on developing countries; virtual media engagement; and powerful social media performance due to the release of the WG reports.
Many delegates expressed appreciation for the work of the communications team.
Citing the importance of learning from virtual and hybrid outreach activities, NORWAY, supported by the US and LUXEMBOURG, called for an expert meeting on communication in the transition to the seventh assessment cycle.
ALGERIA called for focusing on climate change in regions and striking a balance between mitigation and adaptation.
INDIA expressed concern that IPCC communications ignore nuances in the SPM.
SWITZERLAND queried the extent to which UNEP and the WMO have been part of the outreach and dissemination strategy and noted that communications should target organizations such as IPBES.
UKRAINE called for including scientists such as psychologists and behaviorists in the IPCC to help with messaging. SUDAN called for using surveys to collect feedback on outreach activities. SWEDEN reiterated the importance of liaising with focal points.
Many delegates highlighted the need to focus on outreach to young people, especially through social media.
SAUDI ARABIA cautioned against making science so accessible that it loses the sense of gravity it needs and said youth have said messages from the IPCC cause them anxiety.
WGI Co-Chair Masson-Delmotte said improving the knowledge of young people is part of the solution and suggested organizing webinars for informal exchanges with early career scientists. WGII Co-Chair Roberts emphasized that we encourage action if we empower people to understand climate change where they live and recreate.
KENYA suggested scheduling regular engagements in which authors speak to their local communities on how to get involved with the IPCC.
Mahecic: noted the communications team works closely with focal points; supported the suggestion for an expert meeting on communications, saying it would be best scheduled in 2024; and highlighted existing efforts to reach young people, including through public talks for universities.
The Panel took note of the report.
IPCC Scholarship Programme: On Friday, Mxolisi Shongwe, Programme Officer, reported on the IPCC Scholarship Programme (IPCC-LVII/INF.8, Rev.1). He highlighted that 33 students—the highest number since the Programme’s inception—had been awarded scholarships in the sixth round.
Many delegates expressed appreciation for the programme.
SAINT LUCIA called for reporting on the distribution of male and female award winners. TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO highlighted a need for better distribution across developing countries.
Shongwe urged delegates to encourage people from their countries to apply for the scholarships, noting the calls are publicized on social media.
The Panel took note of the report.
Informal Group on Publications: Noting that this group was established to improve the timeliness of publications, WGIII Co-Chair Skea reported on its progress (IPCC-LVII/INF.9 and Add.1). He highlighted acceptance of its recommendations at the 60th Bureau meeting and subsequent expansion of the group’s mandate to consider the translation process in July 2022. He reported agreement on recommendations to the Bureau for a formal translation process. He outlined recommendations on: further development of the Collaborative Online Glossary System; use of WMO translators; and creation of a new Science Editor position. WGII Vice-Chair Zatari added that this is a flexible framework that will handle all UN language translations.
The Panel took note of the progress report.
Matters Related to UNFCCC and Other International Bodies
On Wednesday, Joanna Post, UNFCCC Secretariat, reported on the collaboration between UNFCCC and the IPCC (IPCC-LVII/INF.11), emphasizing that the relationship between the two organizations is long-running, integrated, and vital, and looked forward to continued collaboration.
Many Member States expressed appreciation for the report from the UNFCCC Secretariat and lauded the cooperation between UNFCCC and the IPCC.
Noting that the title of the agenda item refers to the UNFCCC and other international bodies, SWITZERLAND, supported by NORWAY, BELGIUM, LUXEMBOURG, and FRANCE, highlighted the work of IPBES and invited the IPCC to welcome the IPBES-9 decision to explore approaches for collaboration with the IPCC. The US said it was open to a general statement but would prefer more discussion. FRANCE, BELGIUM, and SWEDEN called for enhanced cooperation with IPBES.
ANGOLA called for greater engagement with the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), emphasizing that this is an important convention for Africa. ALGERIA encouraged the IPCC to approach other organizations and called for a report on climate change and desertification. WGIII Co-Chair Jim Skea noted that, prior to UNCCD COP 14, the IPCC produced a special report on land that addresses desertification and degradation.
IPCC Chair Lee noted that comments and suggestions related to other international bodies would be included in the report of the session. The IPCC welcomed with appreciation the report from UNFCCC.
Update from the Gender Action Team
On Wednesday, IPCC Vice-Chair Barrett reported on work of the Gender Action Team (IPCC-LVII/Doc.5). She requested approval of a draft code of conduct for the seventh cycle and Panel input on a draft roadmap to create robust institutional processes for adequately addressing complaints and gender equity concerns. She said the IPCC’s voluntary nature means it cannot “cut and paste” from other UN bodies’ codes of conduct covering employees, and said the draft was based on a code of conduct used by WGII during the sixth cycle. She explained that a code of conduct establishes correct behavior, and the roadmap will determine how to address complaints. She reported that the Team has received three formal complaints and said no process exists for resolving them. Vice-Chair Barrett also reported that services are being procured for a survey on gender, diversity, and inclusion.
WGI Vice-Chair Flato, supported by numerous countries, underscored the need to address the existing complaints. GERMANY, TURKEY, BRAZIL, and UKRAINE suggested using WMO or UNEP procedures temporarily.
Stressing the need for both gender equality and gender equity, CANADA underscored the importance of safeguarding the IPCC’s reputation and ability to recruit people. She supported approving the draft code of conduct with regular review throughout the assessment cycle. Several delegates supported the possibility of revising it later, with ESTONIA noting this is normal procedure. Vice-Chair Barrett agreed on the need for reaffirming the code of conduct regularly and for proper training.
Many delegates supported approving the code of conduct and commented positively on the roadmap for addressing complaints. KENYA, supporting both, asked that cultural differences be taken into account. Vice-Chair Barrett said the code of conduct is informed by cultural challenges and that procedures developed for the roadmap should account for them.
SAUDI ARABIA, supported by INDONESIA and PAKISTAN, welcomed the process to deal with complaints but, on the code of conduct, objected to references to a document prepared for the UN Secretary-General with language that had not been agreed by governments. INDONESIA opposed adopting the code of conduct at IPCC-57, calling for assessment of potential legal issues related to use of terms not agreed by all Member States. Barrett said the IPCC’s lawyers had reviewed the draft code of conduct and explained that UN documents are not uniform in their approach to the issue.
The US stated that, given the receipt of complaints and the IPCC’s reliance on diversity from around the world, both volunteers and employees must be protected from harassment in their work.
WGI Co-Chair Masson-Delmotte asked whether it is suitable for IPCC not to have a code of conduct, noting that the WGII Code of Conduct was built on the UN’s own Code.
After further discussion, Chair Lee proposed moving the discussion to a huddle, which was accepted.
On Friday, Vice-Chair Barrett said her consultations with IPCC delegates showed universal support for respectful IPCC working arrangements, but said she had also been informed that other bodies, including the UNFCCC and the UN, develop codes of conduct as an internal organizational matter to guide operations, and do not bring codes to their members for approval. Indicating that the same approach could be taken in the IPCC, she withdrew the decision on the draft code of conduct and said the code’s implementation would be treated as an internal organizational matter.
INDONESIA noted that this way forward does not constitute Panel approval.
IRAN welcomed this approach. FRANCE, with IRELAND and GERMANY, emphasized this means the IPCC has a code of conduct and will work accordingly.
The US stressed that the Gender Action Team should take all necessary steps to address the existing complaints.
Any Other Business
Working Group Co-Chairs’ Perspectives on Lessons Learned from AR6: WGII Co-Chair Roberts presented this report (IPCC-LVII/INF.12), noting that AR6 was both unprecedentedly intense and particularly collaborative. However, noting significant increases in the workloads and high stress, she said TSU staff are leaving because of the delays. She said this is particularly true in the Global South where staff have less support. She said this means fewer people are available to deal with post-AR tasks, including maintaining the error protocol, communications and outreach, and the handover to the AR7 TSUs, resulting in a lack of scientific continuity between ARs and questions about realistically aligning with the UNFCCC’s global stocktake. She said lessons learned include:
- volunteers must have realistic workloads;
- shorter reports and/or technical workshops instead of ARs must be considered;
- consideration must be given to how to coordinate the increasing number of organizations that want to engage; and
- people, and especially chapter scientists, must be given more support.
NORWAY called for applying these lessons to the SYR approval process. NEW ZEALAND, supported by many others, said these lessons must be used universally in the seventh cycle. The US called for informing the UNFCCC of these issues and expanding this document with surveys of Focal Points and others. WGI Co-Chair Masson-Delmotte called for collecting the views of Bureau members and TFI Co-Chairs, as well as considering the carbon footprint of IPCC activities.
The UK emphasized the disproportionate impacts on women and people from the Global South. SAUDI ARABIA cautioned that the lessons are not “learned” until the improvements are made, and, supported by ALBANIA, KENYA, and SUDAN, urged greater participation from women and the Global South. JAMAICA called on the IPCC to critically examine what needs improvement. SWITZERLAND, with the FWCC, urged development and oversight of a working process. WGIII Vice-Chair Ürge-Vorsatz called for a Bureau meeting to be devoted to lessons learned.
The Panel took note of the document.
IPCC Copyright Policy: On Friday, the IPCC Legal Officer outlined the IPCC copyright policy.
BELGIUM, supported by NORWAY, SWEDEN, the NETHERLANDS, FRANCE, and SWITZERLAND, said that the current policy is very restrictive and may pose challenges to making IPCC products accessible. He requested a presentation of the copyright policies of other organizations, including UNEP and the WMO, at a future session to allow the Panel to consider and potentially build on other policies. Saying the current copyright stipulations are clear but not conducive to disseminating the findings of the IPCC, SWEDEN welcomed consideration of possible improvements. NORWAY supported BELGIUM and SWEDEN, noting that current copyright stems from 1989 and access to information looks different today.
The Legal Officer said that the Panel will need to consider to what extent simplification of approved figures from the SPM needs to be under the control of the Panel.
SAUDI ARABIA objected to a presentation on copyright issues, saying that opening messages from the IPCC to reinterpretation without oversight is extremely dangerous and could lead to chaos.
The IPCC Secretary said the views expressed would be noted in the report and the issue could be considered at a future session.
The Panel took note of the report.
Transition to the Next Assessment Cycle and Related Matters: Chair Lee opened this agenda item on Thursday.
GERMANY highlighted that the issues to be addressed had been clarified during a huddle on Wednesday, and, with support from TANZANIA, FRANCE, LUXEMBOURG, SAINT LUCIA, JAPAN, and NEW ZEALAND, proposed that a contact group meet in the evening to prepare decisions on: the seventh assessment cycle length, timing of elections, and the ToR for an intersessional ad hoc group on lessons learned and all issues related to the transition to the next cycle. TANZANIA, supported by SAINT LUCIA, stressed the need to have a very clear roadmap, saying it was important to learn from both challenges and achievements during the sixth cycle.
FRANCE urged delegates to consider the credibility of the IPCC, saying the Panel had to respect the calendar imposed by UNFCCC and quickly provide expertise on the changes in the energy mix linked to the pandemic and to conflicts.
WGI Vice-Chair Aldrian said it was crucial to learn from the fact that the timeframe for crossing 1.5°C global warming was updated within a very short period between SR1.5 and WGI AR6 and changed by ten years. He also suggested a duration of 7.5 years for the next cycle, to align with the five-year cycle of the UNFCCC Global Stocktake.
CANADA, supported by the US and ARGENTINA, suggested discussing the length of the cycle and election date in plenary, since drafting that decision was straightforward, and focus the contact group on the mandate of ad hoc work on the transition and lessons learned.
SAUDI ARABIA opposed intersessional work but expressed willingness to work in a contact group on the three agreed items.
Secretary Mokssit proposed establishing a contact group to be co-facilitated by TANZANIA and IRELAND, to start in the evening. TANZANIA asked for further guidance regarding the mandate of the contact group. Secretary Mokssit clarified that the mandate corresponds to the title of agenda item 10.3 and the three items it specifies: lessons learned, timing of elections, and length of the next cycle.
NEW ZEALAND, supported by BRAZIL, requested input from the Legal Officer on the requirements for setting the date for elections. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA suggested starting deliberations on timing of elections by referring to the decision reached during IPCC-53 bis.
On Thursday afternoon, the IPCC Legal Officer spoke on IPCC election timing rules, noting Bureau terms last until 12 months after completion of the assessment report and until the election of the new Bureau. She said the Secretariat must invite nominations at least six months prior to the election. She also noted there is no overall term limit because Bureau members can postulate themselves for other positions or serve two terms in any position other than IPCC Chair.
TANZANIA queried the lack of specific mention of the SYR. KENYA, supported by GHANA, proposed term limits for the entire Bureau. FRANCE called for a decision at IPCC-57 on rules for elections in order to have the earliest and smoothest transition.
The US disagreed with the assessment of timing of elections by the Legal Officer. An exchange among the US, UK, CANADA, NEW ZEALAND and the Legal Officer on Rules 8 and 21a yielded different interpretations of the wording. The Legal Officer confirmed that the Panel can choose to shorten the six-month period.
A contact group on this issue, co-facilitated by Frank McGovern (Ireland) and Ladislaus Chang’a (Tanzania), convened on Thursday evening. On Friday morning, Co-Facilitator Chang’a reported that there was consensus on the need for a short transition. Co-Facilitator McGovern noted that many participants had underscored the need to adhere to IPCC Rules and Principles, and that several had cited June as their preferred month for elections.
Co-Facilitator Chang’a further noted that the group agreed that the status quo length of the cycle is sufficient to accommodate the production of reports in the seventh assessment cycle. The group also concluded that existing documents and Bureau members’ reflections are a useful basis for learning lessons, and the Bureau could facilitate this discussion at its next meeting, with no need for an intersessional process.
CANADA called for inviting national Focal Points to submit views on lessons learned for the Bureau to compile along with their own views and to report back to the Panel at its next session.
The REPUBLIC OF KOREA, supported by SAUDI ARABIA, reminded delegates that, under IPCC Rule 8, the Bureau’s term shall last for one year after completion of the assessment report and that IPCC-53 bis decided that the Secretariat should send a letter inviting nominations for elections two weeks after the SYR’s approval, to ensure that election campaigning does not conflict with production of the SYR.
CANADA, the US, FRANCE, the UK, the NETHERLANDS, SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS, AUSTRALIA, and NEW ZEALAND objected. CANADA said that according to the IPCC Legal Officer’s interpretation of Rules 8 and 21, the Panel can take a decision reflecting the extraordinary conditions of the pandemic and the Bureau’s long service caused by delays in the current cycle.
FRANCE, supported by the UK, emphasized the AR6 cycle was expected to end before 2023. He also recalled that a review of procedures planned in 2018 had not been carried out. The UK called for avoiding delays in setting up TSUs, as had happened in the sixth assessment cycle.
The US said the current Bureau’s term will end at the next election, which in 2021 was expected to happen in March 2023. He said that the changed circumstances require not waiting 12 months after the SYR approval to have the election. He proposed that the Secretariat’s letter be sent within two weeks of the conclusion of IPCC-57, and that elections be held no later than June 2023.
NEW ZEALAND, LUXEMBOURG, SWITZERLAND, GERMANY, NORWAY, SWEDEN, BELIZE, SAINT LUCIA, BELGIUM and DENMARK supported the proposal made by the US, stressing it was in line with the rules and reiterating arguments for holding elections as soon as possible, including to: allow TSUs to plan and ensure a good handover between cycles; avoid overstraining the current Bureau, which will soon be serving more than their maximum term of seven years; and to avoid damage caused by further delaying the start of the seventh cycle.
CHINA, supported by SAUDI ARABIA and the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, requested delegates to focus on finalizing the SYR and start the election process only after it is complete. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA reiterated her opposition to “early” elections.
IPCC Vice-Chair Barrett highlighted that consensus on this issue was required because existing rules and procedures were in conflict. She pleaded with governments to take into account the need to be humane to those serving in the current Bureau, emphasizing that some proposals would extend their service to more than eight years.
The US said their proposal was an attempt to find middle ground, and suggested that the Secretariat’s letter of invitation could be sent after the SYR approval session, if the Panel agreed to hold the elections in June. He emphasized his understanding that the term of the current Bureau would end with the elections. Noting the Legal Officer’s confirmation that it was up to the Panel to decide the timeline, he asked those opposed to elections in June to specify their concerns.
WGIII Co-Chair Jim Skea emphasized the need for a clear decision on the timeline to enable conversations with TSUs and funders. He warned that the WGIII TSU would lose essential scientific and communication functions within the next six months, which would also affect the SYR production and outreach.
IPCC Chair Lee noted that the SYR TSU was ready to take on activities after the release of the SYR.
SAUDI ARABIA said starting election procedures directly after the SYR approval would disadvantage new candidates, especially from developing countries. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION and VENEZUELA aligned themselves with the position of SAUDI ARABIA and CHINA. EGYPT added that capacity was needed for other climate meetings.
Chair Lee asserted that no consensus existed whether the US proposal was consistent with the rules and invited the Legal Officer to provide input.
The IPCC Legal Officer stated that, according to the IPCC’s conflict of interest policy, there would be a conflict of interest when persons directly involved in the approval process postulated themselves for Bureau positions. She further cited a decision of IPCC-41 indicating the understanding of the Panel that the SYR is part of the assessment report. She confirmed that the Panel could choose to shorten the six-month period between the invitation letter and elections as stipulated in Rule 21a.
BRAZIL stated his preference for following past practice, saying that his delegation agreed to add this item to the agenda but not take a decision, and it was difficult to be flexible regarding a decision that contradicts previous practice.
On Friday, Secretary Mokssit recalled the Legal Officer’s statement that the Panel can shorten the six-month period and proposed to hold elections in the interval of August and September 2023.
The US, citing informal consultations, put forward a proposal for a decision that would: recognize extraordinary circumstances due to COVID and the need to ensure a smooth transition; clarify this is not a revision to procedures overall; decide to send invitation letters two weeks after the 58th session of the IPCC; schedule the election plenary in July; invite focal points to nominate qualified candidates, taking into consideration regional, intraregional and gender balance; and state that the current term of the Bureau will end at the elections plenary in July.
SAUDI ARABIA supported the US proposal.
THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA opposed, stating that less than six months would not be enough time for candidates, and suggested September as a compromise.
Many countries, including LUXEMBOURG, SOUTH AFRICA, FRANCE, JAPAN, the NETHERLANDS, INDONESIA, and BELGIUM, reiterated their preference for an earlier election date but supported the proposal by the US as a compromise. SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS, supported by TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, the UK and CANADA, suggested sending the invitation letter immediately after the SYR approval. CANADA said the two-week period had been included in IPCC-53 bis in recognition of the workload of the Secretariat due to back-to-back meetings, and the additional two weeks may be especially helpful for developing countries. She also supported a proposal by LUXEMBOURG to send a letter of indication, announcing the elections, in January. SWITZERLAND asked the Secretariat to ensure that, at the election plenary, enough time was given for the old and new Bureaus to meet.
Chair Lee indicated that sending a letter of indication in January would be disruptive to the SYR process.
The US said this had been considered in informal consultations and an overlap with the approval timeline had not been acceptable. SAUDI ARABIA reiterated her support for the initial proposal by the US.
Chair Lee asked the REPUBLIC OF KOREA for flexibility. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA accepted the compromise.
On Friday evening, contact group Co-Facilitator McGovern introduced the draft decision (IPCC-LVII-6).
GERMANY, supported by ESTONIA, LUXEMBOURG, INDIA, and the NETHERLANDS, highlighted the need for lessons learned to be available in a written format prior to the elections. SAUDI ARABIA called on delegates to learn the lessons and not overburden Bureau members.
LUXEMBOURG, supported by HUNGARY, called for an interim progress report before IPCC-60. The NETHERLANDS, supported by NEW ZEALAND, suggested a written report “for consideration” at IPCC-60. Secretary Mokssit suggested that the report be made available prior to the 59th session. WGIII Vice-Chair Ürge-Vorsatz and SWITZERLAND said the report should then be considered at IPCC-60.
IPCC Vice-Chair Barrett, supported by SWITZERLAND, NORWAY, ARGENTINA, and AZERBAIJAN, requested revising a reference to a deadline for nominations one month prior to IPCC-59.
HUNGARY and ESTONIA supported the specification of intraregional and gender concerns in the context of lessons learned. INDIA, supported by the RUSSIAN FEDERATION and SAUDI ARABIA, preferred “regional.”
LUXEMBOURG suggested expressing countries’ “highest appreciation” for the current Bureau.
The draft decision was adopted as amended.
Final Decision: In its final decision (IPCC-LVIII-6), the IPCC:
- decides to request the IPCC Bureau and the TFB to facilitate the process of collecting and synthesizing the lessons learned from the AR6 cycle, starting from the next meeting of the IPCC Bureau with the view to provide a written report prior to IPCC-59;
- decides the Secretary’s letter inviting nominations for the AR7 Bureau and the TFB shall be sent to governments two weeks following the conclusion of IPCC-58, and the election of the new Bureau will take place at IPCC-59 in July 2023; and
- decides the length of the seventh assessment cycle shall be between five and seven years.
Place and Date for IPCC-58
IPCC-58 will be held 13-17 March 2023 in Interlaken, Switzerland.
Closing of the Session
On Friday evening, Chair Lee thanked delegates for their productive work at the first in-person session of the IPCC in over two years. He closed the meeting at 9:05 pm.
A Brief Analysis of IPCC-57
Despite the ongoing war in Ukraine, the food and energy price crises it triggered, and the global COVID-19 pandemic, climate change is still “this century’s biggest challenge,” as UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently stated. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) plays a crucial role in conveying this urgency and guiding decision makers, and its three working groups (WGs) heroically delivered their contributions to the sixth assessment report (AR6) with only a few months delay despite the pandemic.
The 57th session of the IPCC (IPCC-57) was the first meeting without a report to approve since IPCC-53 bis in March 2021. Because production of the Synthesis Report (SYR) encountered obstacles in May, resulting in the postponement of SYR approval from IPCC-57 until IPCC-58 in March 2023, IPCC-57’s agenda focused on procedural matters, most notably the preparation for the upcoming elections of the next IPCC Chair and Bureau.
This brief analysis considers the implications of this delay, including calls for changes to improve the IPCC’s ability to provide timely guidance to policymakers as the severity of the climate crisis becomes increasingly clear.
A Joyful Reunion
The pleasure of meeting in person after two years was evident throughout IPCC-57 and happily expressed by many delegates as they enjoyed a reception hosted by Switzerland on the first night. Being together “in the flesh” lifted spirits during the sometimes-difficult discussions and facilitated the bilateral conversations that are so important in international negotiations. Especially on the last day, a variety of informal consultations, huddles, and breaks helped delegates reach consensus on difficult issues.
Not all issues were contentious; delegates found common ground on a range of issues throughout the meeting. A key example was the unchallenged call to improve gender balance across the IPCC. Implementing the Gender Action Plan, including through a Code of Conduct, is a significant step forward for the Panel. Momentum on this issue is a credit to the tireless efforts of the Gender Action Team and Technical Support Unit (TSU) leadership who worked to raise awareness and offer concrete steps to creating “enabling conditions” that will support the engagement of both staff and those who contribute to the IPCC on a voluntary basis.
There were also very tense moments at the meeting. The unfortunate delay of the SYR for “management reasons” and the lack of transparency surrounding these issues sparked unusually blunt statements of discontent from governments. Many delegates underscored that the delay affects the IPCC’s impact and its credibility, and called for meticulous evaluation and detailed information about strategic planning and improved management to ensure the SYR can be finalized in March and mistakes are not repeated in the next assessment cycle.
Delegates also lamented that a delayed SYR will present now-obsolete findings. It’s a structural challenge faced by the IPCC that, due to the time-consuming review process and literature cut-off dates several months before finalizing the comprehensive assessment reports IPCC has traditionally undertaken, its assessments rapidly become outdated. This problem is exacerbated for the AR6 SYR that will now be published in March 2023, nearly a year after approval of Working Group III’s mitigation report, and 20 months after the Working Group I report on physical climate science, based on datasets that end in 2019-2020.
The delay also imperils the alignment of the next outputs of the IPCC with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) global stocktake (GST). IPCC input to the GST is deemed to be of utmost importance by many governments, as it ensures the UNFCCC’s ambition mechanism is based on the best available science. Additionally, many delegates emphasized that alignment with the GST is imperative for the IPCC to stay relevant for global climate policy. With their decision to start the next cycle in July 2023 and set its length to five to seven years, delegates kept the door open for the AR7 to feed into the second GST in 2028. Given the long lead time and the duration of the assessment process, that window is closing rapidly. Alternatives to AR7, such as dedicated Special Report, would come with their own challenges, including the need to reach consensus on a mandate and the exact scope of each project.
Is IPCC “Fit for Purpose”?
Time is not on our side in planning responses to climate change. Hence, this meeting established an important milestone with the decision to hold elections in July 2023, finally providing an end date for the sixth cycle, including for the tenure of the current Bureau, and a clear start date for the incoming Chair and Bureau. With this, preparations can now begin for the seventh assessment cycle, including planning a handover between the old and new TSUs and scouting potential candidates for the WG Co-Chair positions, heeding the strong call to ensure a smooth transition and safeguard institutional knowledge.
Of course, form should follow function, as delegates repeatedly said during the meeting. Ideally, the Panel and Bureau will have the time to reflect on the purpose and vision of the IPCC in a changing world, and what this means for future work, before determining its new leadership team. It was notable that the Vice-Chairs and other Bureau members raised their voices in favor of bold reforms to the IPCC organizational structure and work programme, including to the siloed Working Groups, and for the creation of new products and activities that would allow the Panel to stay relevant. One Vice-Chair did not mince words when emphasizing that continuing as during past cycles may threaten the pertinence of IPCC’s work.
Delegates debating the order and exact title of agenda items for hours gave rise to feelings of a disconnect between the IPCC and the outside world, and provoked passionate pleas to respond to the harsh reality of unprecedented climate disasters ravaging many parts of the world. Balancing urgently-needed action in a rapidly-changing environment and the measured pace of work in an intergovernmental body will be a formidable challenge for the next IPCC Chair and Bureau.
Never Change a Winning Team?
Whether and how to change the structure, size and composition of the IPCC Bureau, the body governing the IPCC and ultimately steering its scientific work, was a central discussion point. The IPCC Bureau has 34 members, including the Chair, Vice-Chairs, and the Working Group Bureaus, with senior scientists nominated by governments to, among other things, ensure integration of regional perspectives and connection to the respective scientific communities. Many delegates supported maintaining the status quo. These delegates emphasized that the current structure worked well for AR6 despite significant challenges, and argued “what isn’t broken doesn’t need fixing.” Proposals to have two IPCC Co-Chairs, or to limit the terms members could serve on the Bureau, did not achieve consensus, despite many calls for improving diversity in the IPCC leadership.
However, among those most passionately calling for change were the Bureau Members themselves. Many of these IPCC veterans shared lessons learned from the past cycle, calling for changes to ensure the structure and processes of the Bureau will allow for more efficient work, adapt to the changing demands from stakeholders, and be able to incorporate scientific progress. Many Bureau members asked for changes in soft governance, such as clear terms of reference corresponding to roles and functions that would more effectively use the talent in the Bureau; greater diversity in skillsets, age and gender; and empowerment of the Vice-Chairs. Basically, this was a call to formalize and enable what happened during AR6, where the three IPCC Vice-Chairs and many WG Vice-Chairs took on responsibilities and workloads that significantly exceeded expectations of their roles. Progress in this area will depend on the outcome of the mandate to synthesize and report lessons learned from the sixth assessment cycle—and of course on whether the new Chair and Bureau will act on the aspirations expressed by many during this meeting.
While IPCC-57 was a business meeting, delegates took critical decisions that will shape the next IPCC cycle. The relief was palpable when the timeline and process towards the seventh assessment cycle were finally decided, marking the first steps on a path toward a smooth and timely transition. The delegates’ work at this meeting highlighted the importance of effective institutional design in facilitating complex technical work. While many of the structural issues—especially those related to embedding support for volunteers, improving gender equity, etc.—will require substantial work in the coming months and years, the robust discussions at this meeting provided a foundation for the work that is needed to help the IPCC meet new challenges.
The next meeting of the IPCC will return the Panel to its technical work, as it seeks to approve the SYR and complete the sixth assessment cycle. Meanwhile, WG Co-Chairs and experts will step in to ensure that even without the SYR, IPCC will provide much needed scientific guidance to implement and advance ambitious climate action at the UNFCCC climate conference in Egypt in November.