Summary report, 25–28 July 2023
59th Session of the IPCC (IPCC-59)
At its 59th session, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) elected a new slate of leaders to guide its work for the seventh assessment cycle. While the outcomes of the elections will shape the future of the IPCC, the arduous process involved extensive negotiations and careful tracking to ensure that regional balance was achieved within the IPCC Bureau.
A record number of delegates gathered in person for the elections, which involved over 45 rounds of voting. While the procedures for voting were straightforward, the rules designed to ensure regional balance meant that each round could change the slate of candidates for subsequent rounds. Thus, countries nominated and re-nominated candidates in an effort to ensure effective representation of their interests on the Bureau. Regional consultations attempting to smooth the process by reaching consensus on nominations took substantial time, as did the voting itself. Delegates voted using paper ballots, the contents of which were often decided immediately prior to a voting round and then had to be printed and distributed. Delegates were invited to complete their ballots in voting booths before depositing them into cardboard boxes, after which tellers counted the results. This transparent process had the benefit of allaying any fears—however improbable—of vote tampering. However, each round of voting took at least an hour, causing the meeting to run well past its scheduled time.
IPCC-59 reflected longstanding problems with both lack of gender parity and inclusiveness, particularly for developing county delegations. Since the session ran into the early hours of Saturday morning, many delegations had to leave before the core business was finished. This has been a pattern at recent IPCC meetings, and many delegates have expressed both frustration and a commitment to making necessary changes to ensure that all members are able to contribute to decision-making. Furthermore, women made up only 38% of candidates who received advance nominations for positions on the IPCC and Task Force Bureaus. As some participants noted, until governments nominate more women for leadership positions, this inequity and disservice to the Panel will persist.
The election of Jim Skea as IPCC Chair was enthusiastically welcomed by many delegates. Skea is known as an efficient and engaging consensus-builder who values transparency, and his election reflected a widely held desire for the upcoming assessment cycle to work quickly to provide clear scientific input to support global climate action, including through the Panel’s contributions to the Global Stocktake under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Notably, in his campaign, Skea highlighted the urgent need to improve gender parity and inclusiveness in the IPCC’s work and provided specific ideas for doing so.
IPCC-59 convened at the United Nations Office at Nairobi, Kenya (UNON). The session was attended by 170 governments, with 600 participants in total. This represents a 40% increase in delegates compared to the last round of IPCC elections in 2015.
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 peer reviewed and internationally available scientific and technical literature. IPCC reports are intended to be policy relevant but not policy prescriptive, and they provide a 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), which is 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 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The IPCC elects its Bureau for the duration of a full assessment cycle, which includes preparation of an assessment report that typically takes five to seven years (nine for the sixth assessment cycle, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic) and any other special reports or technical papers 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 based in Geneva, Switzerland, and 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 six assessment reports, which were completed in 1990, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2014, and 2023. The assessment reports are structured in four parts, three matching the purviews of the WGs and a fourth synthesizing the key findings of the other three. Each WG’s contribution comprises a comprehensive assessment report (the “underlying report”), a Technical Summary (TS), and a Summary for Policymakers (SPM). The report undergoes an exhaustive, three-stage review process by experts and governments consisting of a first review by experts, a second review by experts and governments, and a third review by governments. The SPM is then approved line-by-line in plenary by the respective WG and adopted by the Panel.
After the three WG reports are accepted and their SPMs approved, a Synthesis Report is produced to integrate the key findings from the three WG reports and any other reports from that assessment cycle, with the Panel then undertaking a line-by-line approval of the SPM of the Synthesis Report.
The IPCC has also produced a range of special reports on climate change-related issues. The AR6 cycle included 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 GHG emissions. 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
The sixth assessment cycle formally began with the election of the Bureau members in 2015 at IPCC-42. In 2016, IPCC-43 agreed to undertake three special reports (SRCCL, SROCC, and in response to an invitation from the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 21) SR1.5) and the 2019 Refinement during AR6. The Panel also agreed that a special report on cities would be prepared as part of the seventh assessment cycle.
Between IPCC-44 and IPCC-47 (2016-2018), the Panel adopted outlines for the three special reports and the 2019 Refinement, as well as the chapter outlines for the three WG contributions to AR6. During this period, the Panel also discussed: the strategic planning schedule for the AR6 cycle; a proposal to consider short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs); and resourcing options for the IPCC. The Panel also 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.
In October 2018, IPCC-48 accepted the SR1.5 and its TS and approved its SPM, which concluded that limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5°C was still possible but required “unprecedented” transitions in all aspects of society.
In 2019, the Panel adopted the Overview Chapter of the 2019 Refinement and accepted the underlying report at IPCC-49, accepted the SRCCL and its TS and approved its SPM at IPCC-50, and accepted the SROCC and its TS, and approved its SPM at IPCC-51. The Panel 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 AR7 cycle.
In February 2020, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, IPCC-52 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, established a Gender Action Team.
At IPCC-54, which took place virtually in August 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Panel accepted the WGI contribution to AR6, entitled “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis,” and approved its SPM. At IPCC-55, which also took place virtually in February 2022, the Panel accepted the WGII contribution to AR6, entitled “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” and approved its SPM. At IPCC-56, which also took place virtually in March-April 2022, the Panel accepted the WGIII contribution to AR6, entitled “Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change,” and approved its SPM.
Following a significant delay in the production of the Synthesis Report of the Sixth Assessment Report, its adoption was deferred. IPCC-57 in September 2022 instead dealt with matters including the size, structure, and composition of the IPCC Bureau, as well as actions to strengthen gender equality and equity in internal operations.
In March 2023, IPCC-58 adopted the Synthesis Report of the Sixth Assessment Report and approved its SPM. This meeting concluded the IPCC’s sixth assessment cycle.
On Tuesday, 25 July, IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee opened IPCC-59. He highlighted that the IPCC began its sixth assessment cycle with a CHF 5 million deficit and ended with a surplus of CHF 20 million. He further noted the IPCC’s receipt of the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity in 2022. Describing this as a tremendous collective achievement, Chair Lee thanked everyone and expressed confidence that the next Bureau “will raise the bar of IPCC’s work even higher.”
UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen welcomed delegates to Nairobi, emphasizing that the world the IPCC has warned of since its inception “is now upon us,” with record high temperatures every day, ferocious storms destroying infrastructure, ocean systems dying off, and agricultural systems suffering drought, which exacerbates hunger. She said the chances of staying below 1.5℃ global warming are fading fast. She stressed that the IPCC is not a doomsayer but influences policymaking and action, exerts pressure on those most responsible for the climate emergency, and highlights feasible and affordable solutions, including rapidly shifting away from fossil fuels and investing in nature-based solutions. She called upon the IPCC to continue sounding the alarm but also giving hope, saying, “We must change and we can change.”
Soipan Tuya, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, Kenya, welcomed delegates to Nairobi and congratulated the outgoing Bureau for exemplary service despite the global pandemic and other challenges. She noted that East Africa has less than ten years before the glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya are lost and lamented that only 11% of the AR6 authors were from Africa despite the continent’s vulnerability to climate change impacts. Stressing the importance of options focused on needs and actions, Secretary Tuya invited delegates to the African Climate Summit in September, which will focus on green growth in Africa.
Paul Egerton, WMO, in a pre-recorded video message on behalf of WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, emphasized that we are experiencing extreme weather events and climate impacts around the world and highlighted that the WMO’s highest priority is to establish early warning systems. Underscoring the need for climate justice, he said that the IPCC’s work is vital for the planet and humankind.
Adoption of the Agenda: Chair Lee introduced the provisional agenda (IPCC-LIX/Doc.1) and provisional organization of work (IPCC-LIX/INF.4, Rev.1). IPCC Secretary Abdalah Mokssit explained that plenary sessions would be dedicated to the elections, and secret ballots would be used for “efficiency and best results.” He said the voting process would involve around 30 rounds of ballots, necessitating speed. He announced that a joint meeting of the old and new bureaus would be held Saturday, 29 July 2023, to consider issues that could be instrumental for the new assessment cycle. The Panel approved the agenda and programme of work.
Approval of the Draft Report of the 58th Session
Secretary Mokssit introduced the IPCC-58 draft report (IPCC-LIX/Doc.2, Rev.1), noting that the revised version incorporates all comments received on the first draft circulated in May 2023. The Panel approved the report.
Jennifer Lew Schneider, IPCC Legal Officer, outlined the IPCC’s election procedures (IPCC-LIX/INF. 1). She noted that quorum had been met, as a majority of the 195 IPCC members were present with accepted credentials. Regarding voting rights, Schneider said each member must be represented by a delegation to the meeting, including a principal delegate, with no proxy voting allowed.
Credentials: Schneider noted that regional groups would meet early in the meeting to: designate one representative to a Credentials Committee; designate two representatives to a Nominations Committee; and consider nominations to the IPCC Bureau and Task Force Bureau. She also explained that the WMO’s six Regions (I-Africa; II-Asia; III-South America; IV-North America, Central America and the Caribbean; V-Southwest Pacific; and VI-Europe) also apply to the IPCC.
Nominations: Schneider recalled that nominations should be submitted in writing to the Secretariat no later than one month before a scheduled election, but members may also make nominations orally from the floor. All nominations must be accompanied by the nominee’s curriculum vitae and a conflict-of-interest (COI) disclosure form.
Schneider said the Nominations Committee reviews the nominations and agrees on the list of nominees for each position without prejudging any additional nominations that might be made after the time of constitution of the Committee or from the floor. She said the list is to be submitted at least 24 hours before the election, but noted the Panel, as the owner of the procedures, could waive this rule.
IPCC-59 proceeded to establish the Credentials and Nominations Committees for the duration of the session and agreed to waive the 24-hour rule. Regional groups then held consultations to designate two regional representatives to the Nominations Committee and one representative to the Credentials Committee.
Following the regional consultations, IPCC Secretary Mokssit reported on the composition of the committees. The Credentials Committee comprised Namibia, India, Brazil, Canada, Cook Islands, and Türkiye. The Nominations Committee comprised Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Uruguay, Peru, US, Antigua and Barbuda, Malaysia, Singapore, Romania and Luxembourg.
Conflict of Interest: COI Committee Chair Youba Sokona (Mali) reported on the Committee’s review of COI forms submitted by IPCC Bureau candidates, noting all issues were expected to be resolved. He expressed satisfaction with the detailed information submitted but noted areas for improvement. He recommended changes and updates to be taken up at the next Committee meeting, including a revision of the COI disclosure form to provide more detailed explanations and instructions.
Voting: IPCC Legal Officer Schneider then provided more information on procedures, including: the order of elections; the presiding officer’s appointment of two tellers, from a developing country and a developed country, respectively, along with assistant tellers if needed, to count the votes; and the procedure for distributing, marking, and counting the voting slips. She added that the Chair of the Nominations Committee reports on all the written nominations received and accepted, with any additional nominations of candidates from the floor included if the Nominations Committee verifies their eligibility.
Schneider explained that the principal delegates from each member country eligible to vote will cast their ballots in the English alphabetical order and sign to confirm their votes had been cast. The Tellers would count the votes in front of the plenary, complete their report, and inform the presiding officer, who will announce the results. If necessary, the presiding officer would announce another round of voting (a run-off), repeating the process for all IPCC Bureau and Task Force Bureau positions.
Schneider said candidates are elected by a simple majority: the integer immediately above half of the valid votes cast. She stated that a regional balance is achieved once a region has obtained the number of positions equal to the maximum they are allowed under the provisions of the regional balance determined by the Panel, and any remaining candidates from that region are deleted from any subsequent ballots. She said that the maximum number of positions for each region is: seven for Africa; six for Asia; four for South America; four for North America, Central America and the Caribbean; four for the Southwest Pacific; and eight for Europe.
Schneider explained that if no simple majority for a candidate is obtained in the first ballot, there would be a second ballot between the two candidates who obtained the highest numbers of votes in the first ballot, as well as any other candidate who obtained the same number of votes in the first ballot as the second of the top two candidates. She added that if two or more candidates obtained the same number of votes in the second ballot, the decision between them would be made by drawing lots.
Election of the Members of the IPCC Bureau and the Task Force Bureau
The Rules of Procedure were adopted by IPCC-25 in Port Louis, Mauritius, in April 2006, and revised by IPCC-35 in Geneva, Switzerland, in June 2012, to reflect that of the three IPCC Vice-Chairs, at least one must be from a developed country and one from a developing country, and three different regions must be represented. The rules also state that one Co-Chair of each WG and of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFI) must be from a developing country and one from a developed country. IPCC-41 in Nairobi, Kenya, in February 2015, further revised the Rules of Procedure, increasing the size of the Bureau from 31 to 34, to increase the representation of the Africa Region from five to seven and that of the Asia Region from five to six, and “to distribute these additional positions evenly across the three WGs.”
Elections for the Chair of the IPCC: Chair Lee opened the voting process for election of the IPCC Chair on Wednesday morning.
Credentials Committee Chair Lesley Craig (Canada) reported on credentials, noting that Myanmar’s submission was not taken up by the Committee, given postponement of UN General Assembly consideration of its credentials since 12 December 2022. Secretary Mokssit announced that quorum had been reached.
Andrew Ferrone (Luxembourg), Chair of the Nominations Committee, reported that written nominations received and approved for IPCC Chair for the seventh assessment cycle were: Thelma Krug (Brazil), Debra Roberts (South Africa), Jim Skea (UK), and Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (Belgium). There were no nominations from the floor.
Chair Lee announced that Cheryl Jeffers (Saint Kitts and Nevis) and Kaarle Kupiainen (Finland) had been selected as Tellers. Ballots were then cast by country in English alphabetical order.
The first round of voting, with 157 valid votes, resulted in the following: Krug, 50; Roberts, 19; Skea, 64; and van Ypersele, 24. Given the lack of a simple majority, a run-off was conducted between Krug and Skea. This balloting resulted in 69 votes for Krug and 90 for Skea. Thus, Skea was elected as IPCC Chair for AR7.
Elections for the Vice-Chairs of the IPCC: On Wednesday afternoon, Chair Lee opened the voting process for the three IPCC Vice-Chairs.
SOUTH AFRICA nominated Debra Roberts as IPCC Vice-Chair from the floor.
BELGIUM nominated Jean Pascal van Ypersele from the floor, but withdrew the nomination following regional consultations.
Nominations Committee Chair Ferrone announced the candidates for IPCC Vice-Chair: Ladislaus Chang’a (Tanzania), Emmanuel Dlamini (Eswatini), Mark Howden (Australia), Ramón Pichs-Madruga (Cuba), Hans-Otto Pörtner (Germany), Debra Roberts (South Africa), Sergey Semenov (Russian Federation), and Diana Ürge-Vorsatz (Hungary).
Developing country Vice-Chair: Of 156 valid votes, Chang’a won 77, Roberts 28, Pichs-Madruga 27, Semenov 18, and Dlamini 6 votes. Given the lack of simple majority, a run-off was conducted between Chang’a and Roberts, resulting in 111 votes for Chang’a and 42 for Roberts. Ladislaus Chang’a was elected as IPCC Vice-Chair.
Developed country Vice-Chair: Of 153 valid votes, Ürge-Vorsatz won 67, Pörtner 61, and Mark Howden 25. Given the lack of a simple majority, a run-off between Ürge-Vorsatz and Pörtner was conducted, resulting in 94 votes for Ürge-Vorsatz and 59 for Pörtner. Ürge-Vorsatz was elected as IPCC Vice-Chair.
Another round of voting among the runners-up was held to select a third IPCC Vice-Chair, but without the inclusion of Roberts, since the African Region was already represented by Chang’a. This round resulted in 91 votes for Ramón Pichs-Madruga and 60 votes for Mark Howden. Thus, Pichs-Madruga was elected IPCC Vice-Chair.
Elections for the Co-Chairs of the Working Groups and of any Task Force Bureau: On Thursday morning, the Panel proceeded to elect Working Group Co-Chairs.
Working Group I: GHANA nominated Nana Ama Browne Klutse as Working Group I (WGI) Co-Chair from the floor.
Nominations Committee Chair Ferrone reported that nominations for WGI Co-Chairs had been reviewed and accepted. These were: Peter Thorne (Ireland) and Robert Vautard (France) as representatives from developed countries; and Nana Ama Browne Klutse (Ghana) and Xiaoye Zhang (China) from developing countries. COI Committee Chair Sokona reported that every nomination was in order.
Developing country Co-Chair: Of 155 valid votes, Zhang won 91 and Browne Klutse 64. Zhang was elected.
Developed country Co-Chair: Of 152 valid votes, Vautard won 94 and Thorne 58 votes. Vautard was elected.
Working Group II: Two nominations for developing country Co-Chairs were received from the floor: Fatima Denton (The Gambia) and Adelle Thomas (Bahamas).
Nominations Committee Chair Ferrone reported that nominations had been reviewed and accepted. COI Committee Chair Sokona reported that the COI forms were in order. The candidates were: Bart van den Hurk (Netherlands), Winston Chow (Singapore), Fatima Denton (The Gambia), Mustafa Safari (Iran), Debora Ley (Mexico), and Adelle Thomas (Bahamas).
Developed country Co-Chair: Van den Hurk was elected by acclamation.
Developing country Co-Chair: Of 152 valid votes, Chow received 65, Denton 36, Safari 16, Ley 18, and Thomas 17. Given the lack of a simple majority, a run-off was conducted between Chow and Denton. Of 151 valid votes, Chow received 93 and Denton received 58. Chow was elected.
Working Group III: Nominations Committee Chair Ferrone reported that nominations had been reviewed and accepted. IPCC Chair Lee reported that all nominations had cleared the COI Committee. The candidates were: Kathryn Calvin (US), Eduardo Calvo (Peru), Shobhakar Dhakal (Nepal), Joy Jacqueline Pereira (Malaysia), and Amit Garg (India).
Developed country Co-Chair: Calvin was elected by acclamation.
Developing country Co-Chair: Of 151 valid votes cast, Calvo received 37, Dhakal 6, Pereira 57, and Garg 51. In the absence of a simple majority, a run-off was conducted between Pereira and Garg, which resulted in 61 votes for Garg and 89 votes for Pereira. Pereira was elected.
Co-Chairs of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: On Thursday afternoon, Nominations Committee Chair Ferrone reported that nominations for the TFI Co-Chairs had been reviewed and accepted. COI Committee Chair Sokona reported that the nominations were in order. The candidates were Takeshi Enoki (Japan) and Mazhar Hayat (Pakistan), both of whom were elected by acclamation.
Elections for the Vice-Chairs of the Working Groups: IPCC Chair Lee opened the voting process for the WG Vice-Chairs on Thursday afternoon.
Several nominations for these positions were made from the floor, including: Sherilee Harper (Canada), Mark Howden (Australia), and Rosala Imbatta (Azerbaijan) for WGI; Mark Howden (Australia), Sergey Semenov (Russian Federation), and Morgan Wairiu (Solomon Islands) for WGII; and Oliver Geden (Germany) for WGIII. The meeting was then suspended to allow the Nominations Committee and COI Committee to review these new nominations and for regional groups to pursue consensus on their nominees.
Delegates discussed the process for electing candidates for WG Vice-Chairs, emphasizing this had to be done in a way that ensures regional representation in each of the WGs and the Bureau. Several countries suggested reversing the tradition of voting for working groups in ascending numerical order; others suggested drawing straws to determine the order. Neither approach was accepted. Ultimately the traditional voting order, as it was outlined in the agenda for the meeting, was used.
Working Group I Vice-Chairs: Nominations Committee Chair Ferrone reported that nominations for WGI Vice-Chairs had been reviewed and accepted. COI Committee Chair Sokona reported that the nominations were in order. UKRAINE stated that it would withdraw its nomination of Svitlana Krakovska for WGI Vice-Chair, maintaining Krakovska’s nomination for WGII Vice-Chair.
Region I: The candidates were: Nana Ama Browne Klutse (Ghana), Aida Diongue (Senegal), and Dadi Diriba (Ethiopia). Of 137 valid votes, Diongue received 38, Diriba received 34, and Browne Klutse received 65. In a run-off vote between Diongue and Browne Klutse, Browne Klutse received 84 votes and Diongue received 49. Browne Klutse was elected.
In a round of voting for a second WGI Vice-Chair seat for Region I, of 126 valid votes, Diongue received 89 and Diriba received 37. Diongue was elected.
Region II: The sole candidate was Maheswar Rupakheti (Nepal). While this region was already represented by the WGI Co-Chair (China), following informal discussions, Region VI coordinator LUXEMBOURG reported his region’s willingness to withdraw its candidates for this last Vice-Chair seat, specifically to allow Rupakheti to be elected by acclamation. He said that if the seat were contested, Region VI would also compete for it. INDIA and CHINA expressed support for Rupakheti, who was then elected by acclamation.
Region III: The candidates were: Paola Andrea Arias Gómez (Colombia), Inés Camilloni (Argentina), and Homero Paltán (Ecuador). Of 135 valid votes, Arias Gómez received 42, Camilloni received 79, and Paltán received 14. With a simple majority, Camilloni was elected.
Region IV: The sole candidate was Sherilee Harper (Canada), who was elected by acclamation.
Region V: The candidates were Edvin Aldrian (Indonesia), Mark Howden (Australia), and Andy Riesinger (New Zealand). Of 140 valid votes, Aldrian received 73, Howden received 26, and Riesinger 41. With a simple majority, Aldrian was elected.
Region VI: The candidates were: Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen (Denmark), Jan Fuglestvedt (Norway), and Sonia Seneviratne (Switzerland). Of 132 valid votes, Christensen received 21, Fuglestvedt received 20, and Seneviratne received 91. With a simple majority, Seneviratne was elected.
Working Group II Vice-Chairs: Nominations Committee Chair Ferrone reported that nominations for WGII Vice-Chairs had been reviewed and accepted. COI Committee Chair Sokona reported that the nominations were in order.
Region I: The candidates were: Fatima Denton (The Gambia), Hana Hamadalla (Sudan), and Cromwel Lukorito (Kenya). Of 139 valid votes, Denton won 57, Hamadalla 28, and Lukorito 54. A run-off between Denton and Lukorito resulted in 76 votes for Denton and 67 for Lukorito. Denton was elected WGII Vice-Chair.
A round of voting for a second seat for the region was held between Hamadalla and Lukorito. Of 145 valid votes, Hamadalla won 44 and Lukorito 101. Lukorito was elected.
Region II: The sole candidate, Raman Sukumar (India), was elected by acclamation.
Region III: The candidates were: Laura Gallardo (Chile), Carlos Méndez (Venezuela), Anna Stewart Ibarra (Ecuador), and Juan Camilo Villegas (Colombia). Of 138 valid votes, Gallardo won 51, Méndez 57, Stewart Ibarra 17, and Villegas 13. A run-off between Gallardo and Méndez resulted in Gallardo winning 72 and Méndez 70. Gallardo was elected.
Region IV: The candidates were Debora Ley (Mexico) and Adelle Thomas (Bahamas). Of 141 valid votes, Ley won 69 and Thomas 72. Thomas was elected.
Delegates then discussed the last three of eight WGII Vice-Chair positions, which needed to include one representative each for Regions V and VI and one representative from any region.
Secretary Mokssit reported that Region III-South America had requested two seats in WGII rather than one each in WGII and WGIII. He explained that this would leave Region III’s earmarked seat in WGIII empty, given that the Region would use its full allocation of four seats.
Mokssit added that Region VI-Europe, already having a Co-Chair in both WGI and WGII, wanted to have two seats in both WGII and WGIII. This, along with Region VI’s desired second WGII seat and Region V-Southwest Pacific’s mandated but as yet unfilled seat, would require the Panel to expand WGII from eight to nine seats for Vice-Chairs, while WGIII would lack one of its allocated seven Vice-Chairs. Mokssit noted that this request was unprecedented, but proposed to move forward by expanding WGII leadership positions to nine.
The US opposed, saying if a region cannot identify a suitable candidate for a particular WG, its place can, in general, remain vacant until such time as they can. LUXEMBOURG, as coordinator of Region VI, requested time for a regional consultation, which was granted. Secretary Mokssit suggested postponing the WGII and WGIII elections and proceeding with elections for the TFI Bureau while discussions on the impasse continued. ALGERIA, TÜRKIYE, GHANA, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION, TANZANIA, and TOGO opposed this proposal.
ARGENTINA, supported by ANGOLA, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, BRAZIL, PARAGUAY, and COLOMBIA, proposed a way forward for the three remaining seats, whereby a first voting round would be only for candidates from Region VI; a second round would be with candidates from Region VI, Region III, and Region V; and a third round would include candidates from the two regions that had not won in the second round. The Panel agreed to this approach, and COLOMBIA and ECUADOR withdrew their nominations for WGII Vice-Chair.
TANZANIA called for speed, emphasizing that several delegates would leave the meeting within a few hours to catch their flights. The NETHERLANDS, supported by ARGENTINA, expressed concern about the election process and suggested putting in writing a call for revising the procedures during AR7 to ensure a smoother process in the future.
The elections for the three remaining positions then proceeded as proposed by Argentina.
Region VI: The candidates were Svitlana Krakovska (Ukraine), and Zinta Zommers (Latvia). Of 134 valid votes counted, Krakovska won 34 votes and Zommers 100. Zommers was elected.
In the election for the second of the three seats, between Region III, Region V, and Region VI, the candidates were Marc Howden (Australia), Svitlana Krakovska (Ukraine), Carlos Méndez (Venezuela), and Morgan Wairiu (Solomon Islands). Of 130 valid votes, Howden received 25, Krakovska 29, Méndez 61, and Wairiu 14. Given the lack of a simple majority, a run-off between Méndez and Krakovska resulted in 95 votes for Méndez and 45 for Krakovska. Méndez was elected.
In the election for the final seat, the candidates were Krakovska and Howden. Of 132 valid votes, Krakovska won 48 and Howden 84. Thus, Howden was elected.
Working Group III Vice-Chairs: There were no nominations from the floor.
Secretary Mokssit announced that voting would take place for two regions: Region I, which had three candidates for two seats, and Region VI, with four candidates for three seats. He also noted that two regions had only one candidate and two regions had no candidate.
Region I: The candidates were: Gervais Itsoua Madzous (Congo), Nagmeldin Mahmoud (Sudan), and Noureddine Yassaa (Algeria). Out of 126 valid votes, Madzous received 19, Mahmoud received 14, and Yassaa received 93. Yassaa was elected Vice-Chair of WGIII.
After a round of balloting for the second seat for Region I, of a total of 123 valid votes, Madzous received 64 votes and Mahmoud 59. Madzous was elected.
Region II: The sole candidate, Malak al Nory (Saudi Arabia), was elected by acclamation.
Region III: The sole candidate, Eduardo Calvo (Peru), was elected by acclamation.
Region IV: No candidate was put forward for this seat.
Region V: The region’s allocation of seats had been fulfilled in other working groups, and the requirement to have at least one representative from the region was met by WGIII Co-Chair Pereira (Malaysia).
Region VI: The candidates were: Jan Fuglestvedt (Norway), Siir Kilkis (Türkiye), Oliver Geden (Germany), and Sergey Semenov (Russian Federation). Of 125 valid votes cast, Fuglestvedt received 41, Geden 21, Kilkis 47, and Semenov 16. A run-off election was held between Fuglestvedt and Kilkis. Of 125 valid votes, Kilkis received 66 votes and Fuglestvedt received 59. Kilkis was elected Vice-Chair for WGIII.
After a round of voting for the second seat for Region VI, of a total of 121 valid votes, Geden received 21, Semenov 27, and Fuglestvedt 73. With a simple majority of votes, Fuglestvedt was elected Vice-Chair.
After a round of voting for the third seat for Region VI, of 118 valid votes, Geden received 77, and Semenov received 41. Thus, Geden was elected Vice-Chair.
Elections for the TFI Task Force Bureau Members: On Friday, Nominations Committee Chair Ferrone reported that all nominees had been reviewed and found acceptable by the Committee. COI Committee Chair Sokona confirmed that all COI forms were in order. According to the IPCC Rules of Procedure, each region holds two seats on the TFI Task Force Bureau.
Region I: Hamid Abakar Souleymane (Chad) and Samir Tantawi (Egypt) were elected by acclamation.
Region II: Amjad Abdulla (Maldives) and Mohammad Rahimi (Iran) were elected by acclamation.
Region III: The candidates were: Laura Elena Dawidowski (Argentina), Yasna Rojas (Chile), Adriana Sanchez (Colombia), and Nicolas Zambrano (Ecuador). Of 106 valid votes, Dawidowski received 55, Rojas 19, Sanchez 20, and Zambrano 12. With a simple majority of votes, Dawidowski was elected.
For the second seat for Region III, another round between Rojas, Sanchez and Zambrano resulted in 45 votes for Rojas, 33 for Sanchez, and 15 for Zambrano. Given the lack of a simple majority, a run-off between Rojas and Sanchez was held. Of 82 valid votes, Rojas received 59 and Sanchez 23. Rojas was elected.
Region IV: Irma Fabiola Hernandez (Mexico) and Melissa Weitz (US) were elected by acclamation.
Region V: The candidates were: Mark Hunstone (Australia), Joni Jupesta (Indonesia), and Mohd Talib Latif (Malaysia). Of 105 valid votes, Hunstone received 35, Jupesta 37, and Latif 35. In the absence of a simple majority and because Hunstone and Latif tied, a second round of voting with all three candidates was held. Of 95 valid votes, Hunstone received 29, Jupesta 53, and Latif 13. Jupesta was elected.
For the second seat, another round between Hunstone and Latif, with 84 votes counted, resulted in 40 votes for Hunstone and 44 for Latif. Latif was elected.
Region VI: The candidates were: Fatma Betul Demirok (Türkiye), Ole-Kenneth Nielsen (Denmark), Rana Humbatova (Azerbaijan), Veronika Ginzburg (Russian Federation), Giacomo Grassi (Italy), María José Sanz Sanchez (Spain), and Tigran Sekoyan (Armenia). Of 111 valid votes, Demirok received 20, Nielsen 13, Humbatova 10, Ginzburg 14, Grassi 31, Sanz Sanchez 22, and Sekoyan 1. Given the lack of a simple majority, a run-off was held between Grassi and Sanz Sanchez. Of 93 valid votes, Grassi received 56 and Sanz Sanchez received 37. Grassi was elected.
For the second seat for Region VI, another round including all remaining candidates was held. Of 84 valid votes, Demirok received 22, Nielsen 13, Humbatova 8, Ginzburg 9, Sanz Sanchez 31, and Sekoyan 1. Given the lack of a simple majority, a run-off was held between Demirok and Sanz Sanchez. Of 81 valid votes, Sanz Sanchez received 43 and Demirok 38. Sanz Sanchez was elected.
This concluded the elections process for the seventh assessment cycle.
Place and Date for the 60th Plenary Session of the IPCC
Türkiye offered to host IPCC-60. The meeting is expected to be held in November 2023. The dates will be considered by the new IPCC Bureau and confirmed by the Secretariat.
In closing remarks, outgoing IPCC Chair Lee expressed appreciation for everyone involved in the sixth assessment cycle, lauding their commitment, endurance, and hard work. Saying it had been a privilege and a pleasure to work with colleagues throughout the cycle, he congratulated incoming IPCC Chair Jim Skea and all newly-elected members of the IPCC and TFI bureaus.
IPCC Secretary Mokssit thanked the Secretariat, noting they were the “smallest team managing a plenary election,” and lauded Chair Lee for overseeing “one of the most intense cycles in IPCC history,” with 20 plenaries and eight reports. Mokssit noted that, for the Secretariat, this had been the most difficult plenary in the history of IPCC and thanked them and their UNON colleagues for their excellent support in managing it. He then presented Lee with a gift of a pen from the Secretariat to commemorate his time as IPCC Chair.
Chair Lee gaveled the meeting to a close at 12:55 am on Saturday, 29 July 2023.
A Brief Analysis of IPCC-59
As the world contends with raging wildfires, floods, droughts and record-breaking temperatures in many parts of the world, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is initiating its next assessment cycle. A crucial first step is selecting the leaders who will guide the Panel’s work as the IPCC comes under growing pressure to provide timely, clear information that can support policymakers as they confront the immediate dangers of our rapidly changing environment.
Electing the IPCC’s leadership was no small task. Delegates worked late into the evening on Thursday and into the early morning hours on Saturday as they navigated the surprisingly complex process of selecting candidates for the 46 available posts, a process that was substantially lengthened by the use of paper ballots.
This brief analysis will consider the latest round of IPCC elections and the unique challenges facing the Panel as it undertakes its seventh assessment cycle.
The Elections Puzzle
Approximately every seven years, the Panel elects a new Chair, Co-Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the Working Groups (WGs) and Task Force Bureau to guide its work. The system of allocating posts seems straightforward on paper, but in practice it amounts to a complicated puzzle with many moving parts. Positions in the Bureau are distributed in accordance with an agreed allocation system originally meant to create balanced representation among regions and between developed and developing countries. Every Working Group and the Task Force Bureau must have at least one member from each region. Additionally, in most cases there are more seats than regions, leading to open competition for the extra spots. As the elections for different positions proceed, some nominees become ineligible because their region has already used its full allocation of positions. Conversely, if a region’s allocated positions are not filled, it must immediately find someone to nominate with the right qualifications and expertise for the open position.
Candidates are elected by a simple majority of the valid votes cast, with each member country able to cast one vote per round. If no candidate achieves a simple majority, a run-off takes place between the top two candidates (or three if there is a tie for second place). Ballots are secret, enabling voters to defect from oral agreements within their regions or with individual candidates. Elections also sometimes reflect geopolitical interests, with political alliances and competition that are unrelated to individual candidates.
With record-breaking attendance at IPCC-59, negotiations within the regional groups were often intense. Consensus was elusive in many cases. IPCC Secretary Abdalah Mokssit emphasized repeatedly that there were fewer nominees elected by acclamation than in previous years. Many delegates highlighted the importance of securing a seat at the table, citing reasons ranging from the growing salience of climate change to opportunities to make substantial contributions to the IPCC’s work.
Regional consultations required significant time during the week. While these valuable face-to-face deliberations took many hours, the election process was considerably lengthened by the use of paper ballots. As each round of elections could change the eligibility of nominees for subsequent rounds, delegates had to wait for new ballots to be created, printed, and distributed. Delegates then cast their votes, with each round of paper ballots counted by tellers before they could be announced by outgoing IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. In many cases a single round of voting took an hour or more—far longer than had been anticipated for this four-day meeting. The time it took resulted in the exclusion of delegates who had to catch their flights before the elections concluded. The decline in participation was notable, as the number of voters dropped from over 150 to a nadir of 84. As happened in IPCC-58’s approval of the Synthesis Report, many developing country members were unable to stay until the end of the meeting. As noted by incoming IPCC Chair Jim Skea, simply having better scheduling and timekeeping can help ensure full participation and inclusiveness.
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back?
While the roster of nominees for IPCC Chair was very strong, with four highly experienced candidates, the election of Jim Skea reflects appreciation for his demonstrated skills as a highly effective Chair. After the significant delay of the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) Synthesis Report, the IPCC elected a Chair known for strict adherence to timelines. Skea has a track record of building consensus and delivering results in challenging circumstances, as demonstrated most recently by his management of the approval of the Working Group III contribution to the AR6 and the Special Report on limiting warming to 1.5o C.
As all of the candidates emphasized in their campaigns, one of the most important challenges for the Panel is improving diversity and representation in the IPCC’s work. The need for broader and more meaningful participation of women and of scientists from developing countries, and improved coverage of information from the developing world in the assessment reports, has been a persistent problem. Although developing countries are home to over 80% of the world’s population, their contribution to the AR6 amounted to a little more than 30%. Jim Skea emphasized his commitment to addressing these issues, making concrete proposals for paths to improvement, including greater outreach and promoting capacity building among the under-represented.
Increasing the number of women participating in the IPCC’s work is also significant challenge. While the Panel has a Gender Policy and Implementation Plan to enhance gender equality, the election results already set back some of these goals: the number of women elected to top positions declined, dropping from an unimpressive four out of the 12 top positions in the AR6 to three in the AR7. To address this and resolve systemic disparities in gender representation, the goals of a Chair and aspirations of the Panel are necessary but not sufficient. As many delegates pointed out during IPCC-59, it is up to governments to nominate more women to leadership positions and ensure they have equal opportunities to get there.
AR7: What is Next for the IPCC?
As the impacts of climate change manifest at what feels like breakneck speed, a key challenge for the IPCC will be producing timely information for policymakers. This challenge is magnified by the exponential growth in the production of relevant scientific research. As Skea noted, there were 8,500 articles to assess for AR2, versus nearly half a million for AR6—half of which were published during the assessment cycle. Keeping up with the pace of information and producing robust and relevant assessments of the scientific literature, all while relying on the unpaid, voluntary work of scientists and researchers who speak different languages and live all over the world may seem daunting, but it is what the IPCC was designed to do.
The next IPCC meeting is expected to take up the future of the IPCC and the work of AR7. Several commentators have noted that this is a key decade for the necessary decision-making to enable us to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Yet the pace of disasters indicates that we may have less time than we thought. Notably, the month during which this meeting has taken place is the hottest on record. Can the IPCC adapt its process to produce more information faster?
During IPCC-59, Chair Skea promised he would hit the ground running, including by scheduling meetings during and immediately after IPCC-59 to facilitate a smooth transition from AR6 to AR7 and commence work. Recognition of the need for quick action is also reflected in the scheduling of the first meeting for AR7, which is planned for just four months from now. Furthermore, initial steps have been taken on some previously agreed projects, including a special report on cities and work on short-lived climate forcers. More proposals for special, methodological and technical reports are expected.
Skea’s emphasis on speed reflects the need to ensure timely inputs to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, including through the Global Stocktake, as well as updated information to support policymakers at all levels. The IPCC continues to play a critical role in guiding the world as it contends with the impacts of climate change. The question for the Panel is how to make the most of its position of influence to support meaningful and immediate action. Thirty-five years after its establishment, its goal remains the same. That is, in the words of the first IPCC Chair, Bert Bolin, to provide a “penetrating examination of the facts,” which is “accepted as trustworthy by the international scientific community” and “viewed in terms of the prevailing lack of equity and social justice in the world.” Given the growing evidence that climate change is happening faster and with more intensity than expected and affecting those least responsible for it the most, the demand for its outputs has never been greater.