Summary report, 9–10 April 2008

28th Session of the IPCC (IPCC-28)

The 28th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was held from 9-10 April 2008 in Budapest, Hungary. Meeting for the first time since the release of the Fourth Assessment Report in November 2007, the session brought together representatives from governments, lead authors, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, industry and academia.

Discussions at the session centered on the future of the IPCC, including key aspects of its work programme such as Working Group structure, main type and timing of future reports, and the future structure of the IPCC Bureau and the Bureau of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFB). The Panel also considered, inter alia, a proposal for the use of the funds from the Nobel Peace Prize, jointly awarded to the IPCC and Al Gore in 2007, a review of IPCC Principles, the Programme and Budget for 2009-2011, admission of observer organizations and outreach, and heard a progress report on emissions scenarios.

The IPCC plenary agreed to prepare a Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) and to retain the current structure of its Working Groups. In order to enable significant use of new scenarios in the AR5, the Panel requested the Bureau of the Fifth Assessment cycle to ensure delivery of the Working Group I report by early 2013 and complete the other Working Group reports and the Synthesis Report at the earliest feasible date in 2014. The Panel also agreed to the preparation of a Special Report on Renewable Energy to be completed by 2010 and was presented with the Technical Paper on Climate Change and Water. It deferred discussion on the use of its Nobel Peace Prize funds until IPCC-29.

In light of the successes of the IPCC in 2007, there was little time, pressure or momentum to undertake radical modifications; however, the IPCC recognized the importance of adapting to a changing climate and evolving policy needs and opportunities.


The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The purpose of the IPCC is to assess scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant to understanding the risks associated with human-induced climate change. The IPCC does not undertake new research, nor does it monitor climate-related data, but bases its assessments on published and peer-reviewed scientific and technical literature.

The IPCC has three Working Groups: Working Group I (WGI) addresses the scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change; Working Group II (WGII) addresses the vulnerability of socioeconomic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and adaptation options; and Working Group III (WGIII) addresses options for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and otherwise mitigating climate change. Each Working Group has two Co-Chairs and six Vice-Chairs. The Co-Chairs guide the Working Groups to fulfill the mandates given to them by the Panel, and are assisted in this task by Technical Support Units.

The IPCC also has a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. The Task Force oversees the IPCC National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme, which aims to develop and refine an internationally-agreed methodology and software for the calculation and reporting of national greenhouse gas emissions and removals, and to encourage the use of this methodology by countries participating in the IPCC and by parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The IPCC Bureau is elected by the Panel for the duration of the preparation of an IPCC assessment report (normally 5-6 years). Its role is to assist the IPCC Chair in planning, coordinating and monitoring the work of the IPCC, and should be composed of climate change experts representing all regions. Currently, the Bureau comprises 30 members: the Chair of the IPCC, the two Co-Chairs of the three Working Groups and of the TFB, three IPCC Vice-Chairs, and the Vice-Chairs of the three Working Groups. Rajendra Pachauri (India) was elected Chair of the IPCC in 2002.

The IPCC Secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland, and is staffed by the WMO and UNEP.

IPCC REPORTS: Since its inception, the IPCC has prepared a series of comprehensive assessments, special reports and technical papers subject to extensive review by experts and governments, providing scientific information on climate change to the international community, including policymakers and the public. This information has played an important role in framing national and international policies.

The IPCC has so far completed four comprehensive assessments of climate change, each playing a key role in advancing the negotiations under the UNFCCC: the First Assessment Report was completed in 1990, the Second Assessment Report in 1995, the Third Assessment Report in 2001, and most recently the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), which was adopted in Valencia in November 2007 at the 27th session of the Panel.

The AR4 is structured in three volumes, one by each of the three Working Groups, each comprising an underlying assessment report, a Technical Summary, an Executive Summary and a Summary for Policymakers (SPM). All sections undergo a thorough review process, and the SPM is approved line-by-line by the IPCC. In addition to the three Working Groups’ contributions, the AR4 also includes a Synthesis Report (SYR), highlighting the most relevant aspects of the three Working Group reports, and a SPM of the SYR, also approved line-by-line by the Panel. The SYR Core Writing Team is composed of lead authors and Co-Chairs from all Working Groups. The review process generally takes place in three stages: a first review by experts, a second review by experts and governments, and a third review by governments. Overall, more than 2500 expert reviewers, 800 authors, 450 lead authors, and 130 governments participated in the elaboration of the AR4.

In addition to the comprehensive assessments undertaken approximately every five to six years, the IPCC produces special reports, methodology reports and technical papers, focusing on specific issues related to climate change. Special reports prepared by the IPCC include: The Regional Impacts of Climate Change: An Assessment of Vulnerability (1997), Aviation and the Global Atmosphere (1999), Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (2000), Methodological and Technical Issues in Technology Transfer  (2000), Safeguarding the Ozone Layer and the Global Climate System (2005), and Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (2005).

Technical papers have been prepared on Climate Change and Biodiversity (2002), and Implications of Proposed CO2 Emissions Limitations (1997), among others.

The IPCC also prepares methodology reports or guidelines to assist countries in reporting on greenhouse gases. The IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories were first released in 1994, and a revised set was completed in 1996. Additional Good Practice Guidances were approved by the Panel in 2000 and 2003, and a guide with Definitions and Methodological Options to Inventory Emissions from Direct Human-induced Degradation of Forests and Devegetation of other Vegetation Types in 2003. The latest version, the 2006 IPCC Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, was approved by the Panel in 2006.

For all this work, and its contribution to “build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations that are needed to counteract such change” the IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with Al Gore, in December 2007.


On Wednesday morning, 9 April 2008, IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri opened the session by honoring the memory of Bert Bolin, founding Chair of the IPCC, who passed away on 30 December 2007. He noted the indelible mark that Professor Bolin had left not only in the IPCC but in the whole arena of climate change activities. The Panel observed one minute of silence. WGII Co-Chair Martin Parry told of a meeting with Professor Bolin in Stockholm just after the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, where the IPCC paid him tribute. He underlined the great scientific stature and generous and humble nature of Professor Bolin.

Introducing the agenda, Chair Pachauri said that the IPCC lies at a critical juncture after 20 years of existence and a substantial record of achievement, and now faces high expectations and rapidly changing policy needs and opportunities. Noting the growing demand for scientific updates and the fact that policy relevance is defined by the public, as action on climate change will require involvement by all stakeholders, he called for reflection and deep consideration regarding the future of the IPCC. Chair Pachauri announced his disposition to serve another term as IPCC Chair if supported by the Indian government.

Gábor Fodor, Minister of Environment and Water, Hungary, acknowledged the IPCC’s efforts to build and disseminate knowledge about climate change and noted its scientific input in catalyzing and furthering climate change negotiations.

Yan Hong, Deputy Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), noted that the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) led to unprecedented agreement on the impacts of climate change, its anthropogenic causes, and its implications for world peace. He noted WMO’s role as a principle provider of scientific and technical information for IPCC assessments and called for further research on links between climate change and the hydrological cycle, highlighting impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable countries.

Kilaparti Ramakrishna, UNEP, highlighted the importance of decisions to be made in Budapest, UNEP’s work on climate change and its readiness to support the IPCC in the future.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer underlined the contribution of the IPCC to major outcomes of the UNFCCC process, particularly the critical role played by the AR4 in fostering the Bali breakthrough. He identified the need for updated scientific information on the road to Copenhagen and noted the importance of the Technical Paper on Climate Change and Water.

Chair Pachauri then presented the agenda (IPCC-XXVIII/Doc.1) for adoption. Several comments were made regarding the need for sufficient time to discuss the future of the IPCC and the importance of addressing new emissions scenarios. The Panel adopted the agenda.

The Panel addressed the agenda items in plenary and in two contact groups that were set up to address some key aspects of the future of the IPCC. This report presents a summary of discussions according to the agenda.


Renate Christ, IPCC Secretary, introduced the draft Report of IPCC-27 (IPCC-XXVIII/Doc.2). At the request of Belgium, language in a paragraph on a recent expert meeting on Further Work on Scenarios was modified to read that “the workshop identified four pathways for scenario development, the lowest one contingent upon a scientific-technical evaluation,” and that strong participation from developing countries “and countries with economies in transition” included the participation of “40,” rather than the invited 52, experts from those countries.

Delegates adopted the report as amended and agreed to append the statement of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at IPCC-27 to the report.


The Secretariat introduced the IPCC Programme and Budget as of 31 December 2007 (IPCC-XXVIII/Doc.6), noting that the document omitted predictions for 2009-2011 so as not to pre-empt discussions at IPCC-28. The UK noted its late contributions for 2007. A financial task team was set up to address relevant issues, including carry-overs in savings. The task team met twice to consider a draft decision on the IPCC programme and budget for 2009 requesting the Secretariat to prepare an estimation of the annual costs for the complete AR5 cycle, along with a summary of the annual budgets, income, and expenses since the Third Assessment Report. The decision was agreed to in plenary.


This issue was addressed on Wednesday and Thursday in plenary, and in two contact groups meeting on both Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.

IPCC Secretary Christ introduced the Synthesis of Comments on the Future of the IPCC (IPCC-XXVIII/Doc.7), along with the Chair’s discussion paper; a compilation of comments from governments, authors, organizations and Bureau members (IPCC-XXVIII/INF.1); and a compilation of comments received after the deadline and translations into English of earlier submissions (IPCC-XXVIII/INF.1, Add.1).

In plenary statements, all comments expressed support for undertaking the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). Most were in favor of a five-six year assessment cycle, but suggested slight variations such as staggering the appearance of Working Group reports and adjusting the cycle to fit work on new scenarios. Indonesia recommended an eight-year cycle. Belgium proposed a circular, continuous cycle of reports in order to have a cycle of one comprehensive Working Group report every two years rather than a complete set of the three Working Group reports every six years.

Many noted that the IPCC’s work should be linked to the UNFCCC process, with Venezuela recalling the Bali Action Plan and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action work programme for 2008 adopted in Bangkok in December 2007 and identifying the need for annual progress reports alongside the main assessment. Sweden supported possibly delaying the next comprehensive assessment but in the meanwhile providing thematic updates as needed and a fast-track process for some reports.

WGIII Co-Chair Bert Metz supported by Sweden, Denmark and others, noted that new scenarios will only be fully available by 2012 and will not be fully disseminated in the literature until after that. He expressed concern that adopting a six-year cycle for the next assessment could prevent the use of new scenarios and lead to problems with consistency among the three Working Groups, and suggested that eight years would be needed for the next assessment. In the meantime, he proposed that the IPCC could prepare a complete update on specific issues and a full update by all Working Groups of the AR4 Synthesis Report (SYR) in four years. He explained that this shorter cycle would be well adapted to specific requests from the UNFCCC for more rapid assessments and special reports.

France, Germany and others stressed the importance of emissions scenarios and underscored the catalytic role of the IPCC in facilitating this work in a timely manner for AR5, in particular the development of low emission scenarios consistent with targets undertaken by some countries under the UNFCCC.

On Working Group structure and mandates, Russia, Australia, China, France, Hungary, the US, Sudan and others supported the current structure. Uganda, New Zealand, Algeria, Peru and others recommended increasing consideration of adaptation in the work of WGII and WGIII. Germany suggested strengthening WGIII’s work on adaptation, in accordance with its mandate to address solutions. Noting the need to anticipate trends such as the growth of publications on adaptation, the UK, supported by Peru and others, proposed splitting the work of WGII on impacts and adaptation in order to have four working groups that could cope with a predicted increase in information. In contrast, Sweden and Saudi Arabia supported possibly merging Working Groups, moving impacts to WGI and adaptation to WGIII, with a view to allowing for more integrated assessments.

Stating that it is ready to continue its financial and logistical support to the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFI), Japan said that the TFI should continue as an independent body. Many countries welcomed Japan’s offer and called for strengthening the TFI. New Zealand and others also highlighted the importance of the Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA).

On special reports, China warned against having too many special reports and technical papers. Sweden, Uganda, Mexico and others supported special and regional reports, especially on adaptation. Spain favored considering climate change and natural disasters, and Australia called for addressing cross-cutting aspects of relevance to more than one Working Group. Norway proposed preparing special reports on maritime transport and feedback mechanisms. Venezuela supported Saudi Arabia’s proposal on preparing a special report on socioeconomic impacts of mitigation in developing countries. Iceland called for cooperation with other conventions on interrelated issues, particularly, the Convention on Biological Diversity and UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and proposed a special report on desertification. Norway, supported by Sudan, Finland, Iceland, Peru and Mexico, also suggested a workshop in collaboration with the WMO on managing risks of extreme events.

Most countries stressed the need to enhance work on regional climate change and adaptation.

On scientific issues to be addressed in future assessments, China suggested extreme weather events and technology transfer. The Russian Federation proposed studying other factors such as ozone and aerosols, and geo-engineering. Germany, with Cuba and Spain, called for strengthening risk assessment aspects of the reports, to pay greater attention to events with low probability or low confidence levels but high impact. Finland also highlighted disaster risk reduction, and noted the need for IPCC assessments to be linked to other assessments, particularly the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Iceland said the IPCC should be ready to address issues related to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and desertification. Morocco emphasized cross-cutting issues such as economics and food security.

On the structure of the Bureau, most countries supported the current structure. Kenya noted lessons learned over the past twenty years, saying that an increase beyond the current thirty members might create problems of unmanageability. Many also called for clearly defining and strengthening the role of the Vice-Chairs so they may better support integration and cooperation among the Working Groups.

Many countries called for tackling the SYR earlier in the AR5 process, including early scoping on questions, to ensure more integrated assessment and enhance cooperation between the Working Groups, and France proposed setting up a small team to start the process. Slovenia, supported by Cuba, called for an early decision on format in order to avoid uncertainty. Kenya, with Austria and others, cautioned against prejudging the outcome of the Working Groups, and Saudi Arabia recommended delaying production of the SYR. Austria stressed the need to understand the goal of the SYR, particularly regarding key uncertainties and concerns. Spain recommended an uncomplicated overview of results, unlike the AR4 SYR, of relevance to policy-makers. Cuba recommended establishing committees to discuss the relevant issues, particularly cross-cutting issues that could form the backbone of the report.

On a proposal by the Chair on a possible task group on economics, France, Sweden and others opposed the creation of such a group but suggested greater attention be paid to economics by the Working Groups. Bert Metz noted the need to improve assessment of the costs of adaptation and impacts, but, supported by Sweden and others, opposed taking economics as a disciplinary focal point, given the IPCC’s decision to aim towards integration.

Most countries mentioned the need to increase involvement of scientists from developing countries. Kenya called for more participation by developing country economists and social scientists rather than just physical scientists and government representatives. He noted that if basic data, such as from Africa, are inadequate or of insufficient quality then the process should address those inadequacies and time should be given to preparing studies for this purpose. Brazil called for funding to enhance capabilities to address gaps in data quality and quantity in some developing countries, and Argentina stressed the need to increase involvement of institutions working on regional aspects of climate change, including through regional workshops. Sierra Leone called for greater involvement of political scientists. Sri Lanka called for greater, and more balanced, economics and social science expertise in the writing teams.

Many countries noted the need for strengthening outreach activities. Noting that the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) is the main output of each of the Working Group reports and SYR, France called for broader distribution and wider access to hard copies and, with Italy, for more translations into non-UN languages.

Hungary, Sweden and others supported reporting on the carbon footprint of the IPCC.

In summarizing, Chair Pachauri identified an emerging consensus on developing the AR5 and continuing the TFI and the TGICA, and proposed that the IPCC adopt decisions on these matters. On the TGICA, Norway noted the possibility of amending its mission after discussion of emissions scenarios. The Panel decided to prepare the AR5 and continue the TFI and TGICA.

Chair Pachauri also noted movement towards consensus on issues of guidance for the AR5 or special reports for the future, including the need for: a “staggered approach” for Working Group outputs; clear signals for the climate modeling community; increased frequency of IPCC updates to meet increasing demand for information; early planning for an SYR based on Working Group reports; bundling of solutions including mitigation and adaptation; a regional orientation; strengthened contributions from social disciplines and economics; and much greater participation of developing country scientists on the writing teams and in the preparation of IPCC publications.

Two contact groups were set up to address remaining issues: one to define the cycle of the next assessment report, including in relation to the development of new scenarios, and the other one on the structure of the Working Groups. On Wednesday evening, both contact groups heard a presentation by Richard Moss, Co-Chair of the New Scenarios Steering Committee, describing different phases in scenario development and the timeline for production of key scenario development products. Delegates then discussed implications of this timeline for the cycle timing of AR5 and a need to stagger Working Group assessments so that WGII makes a full use of new scenarios.

THE AR5 CYCLE: The issue of the AR5 cycle timing was addressed in a contact group co-chaired by Ian Carruthers (Australia) and Ismail Elgizouli (Sudan) on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Having agreed to undertake the AR5, the group discussed the need to: integrate new scenarios in the report; allow enough time for the digestion of scenarios; address issues of data transfer to the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability community; send a message to the climate modeling community regarding the AR5 timeline; and take into account policy demands for new assessment reports. As for the AR5 cycle, participants discussed timelines for different Working Group reports and three proposals related to the linkage with the UNFCCC work programme, such as noting its relevance, taking it into account or not acknowledging it at all. Delegates also considered how the Bureau can assist, facilitate or catalyze the timely transfer of the scenario products outlined in the report “Further Work on Scenarios” to feed into the development of the AR5 reports.

On Thursday Co-Chair Carruthers presented a draft decision to the plenary.

WGII Co-Chair Martin Manning suggested adding text on the reasons for early completion of the WGI report, including the fact that WGII needs information on regionalization as well as characterization of variability, extreme events and large-scale events.

The UK, Belgium, Kenya, Morocco and Switzerland warned against trying to formulate detailed rules before the next Bureau takes office and suggested using softer language. WGIII Co-Chair Bert Metz, with Saudi Arabia, noted the contact group’s view that the AR5 should be based on new scenarios and that the formulation of the original text gives enough flexibility to the new Bureau. Switzerland noted the need to send a message to the scenario community to intensify its work and suggested indicating the end of the AR5 cycle in general terms as 2013-2014.

Germany, with Spain, suggested stronger language on taking into account the UNFCCC work programme, noting the increased demand for timely scientific information by policy-makers. Switzerland also supported recognizing the link to the UNFCCC and called for consideration of special reports in this regard. Co-Chair Carruthers, with the US and China, said that the proposed text reflects a balance between giving flexibility to the new Bureau and the need to send a message to the scientific community. The Panel agreed to note the relevance of the UNFCCC work programme to the AR5 timeline.

The Panel also decided to invite the scientific community to develop new scenarios in accordance with the timeline presented in the progress report on new scenarios and request the Bureau to assist with their timely transfer into the AR5, in particular in relation to impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. The Panel also decided to request the Bureau of the Fifth Assessment cycle to ensure delivery of the Working Group I report by early 2013 and complete the other Working Group reports and the Synthesis Report at the earliest feasible date in 2014, in order to enable significant use of new scenarios in the AR5.

STRUCTURE OF THE WORKING GROUPS: The structure of the Working Groups was addressed in plenary and in a contact group co-chaired by Mohan Munasinghe (Sri Lanka) and Svante Bodin (Sweden) on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Participants discussed various proposals made in plenary on the need to better integrate adaptation and mitigation, which might imply a possible re-structuring of the Working Groups, whether by merging or splitting the work of WGII. The group soon agreed that changing the structure of the Working Groups would require more time and thought than permitted in a contact group at this session. Some of the difficulties had to do with actual linkages in the literature between impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, and the separate treatment of adaptation and mitigation. It was noted that this might change in the future as actual adaptation planning and practices are initiated and as sustainable development strategies come to incorporate both mitigation and adaptation responses. Other points raised included the increasing linkages between adaptation, finance, and technology and the need to address changing policy needs.

In the end, the contact group concluded that it would not be prudent to make drastic changes in the Working Group structure at such short notice and that the present focus and structure of the Working Groups should be retained, but that some serious issues should be addressed early in the AR5 cycle. These include:

  • the need to deal with adaptation and mitigation together from the point of view of decision-makers to enable their better integration into sustainable development strategies;
  • the possibility that adaptation and impacts will be treated separately in the literature in the future;
  • the increasing need to assess impacts, vulnerability and adaptation options on a regional/local scale; and
  • the possibility of having integration of adaptation and mitigation as a focus area in the SYR.

The contact group added that these and other integrative issues should be considered by the IPCC in plenary when it approves the three Working Group outlines. 

The contact group conclusions were taken up again in plenary on Thursday. The UK noted that although adaptation and impacts are often joined in the literature and assessed together, it may be helpful to distinguish between impact assessment to inform overall mitigation action and regional risk assessments for adaptation. He also drew attention to the need to take into account the increasing importance of “grey,” (non-peer reviewed) literature on both adaptation and mitigation. The Netherlands and Belgium stressed the need to continue deliberating throughout the next assessment cycle on the possibility of changing the structure of the Working Groups. Hungary underlined the importance of ensuring the next Bureau takes the discussions held at this session on the future of the IPCC into account.

The Panel agreed to retain the current structure of the Working Groups.

SPECIAL REPORTS AND OTHER MATTERS RELATED TO THE FUTURE OF THE IPCC: Chair Pachauri raised two issues needing decision: strengthening of the IPCC Secretariat, given the IPCC’s needs for its future work, and consideration of proposals for special reports and other activities submitted by IPCC members. He proposed, and the Panel agreed, to set up two small task groups to address these issues. The task groups were requested to submit their recommendations for consideration at the next Bureau meeting and IPCC-29. France recommended that the group also examine the financial and other aspects of proposals submitted.

Norway noted its proposal for a workshop or scoping meeting on a possible special report on managing extreme events, asking for an indication on this from IPCC-28.

France noted an existing UNCCD proposal for a special report. Morocco stressed the need for a special report on food security and bioenergy.

Chair Pachauri suggested following the existing procedure, which had been formulated for submission of proposals for special reports during the AR4 cycle, which is to submit a full proposal for consideration by the next Bureau meeting and IPCC-29. The Chair noted that all requests for special reports must be collected and decided upon by the Panel, and reminded delegates that the criteria and frameworks for special reports can be modified later.

Upon a query from Kenya, Chair Pachauri clarified that the current Bureau would continue to exist until the new Bureau is elected, but is not due to meet again. The UK noted that Bureau input might be needed on the IPCC’s future and on strengthening the Secretariat. Chair Pachauri suggested consulting and finalizing such work by e-mail, meeting only if necessary. The Panel agreed to retain the current structure of the IPCC Bureau and the TFB.


This issue was taken up in plenary on Thursday. Chair Pachauri suggested, and the Panel agreed, to a continuation of the current Principles.

Australia requested the addition of a provision in the Principles for review editors for technical papers, noting that this role exists for assessment reports, special reports and methodologies, but not for technical papers, and asked that this concern be registered. Chair Pachauri suggested that Australia formulate wording for a decision to modify the Principles, and to submit it for consideration at IPCC-29.


WGIII Co-Chair Ogunlade Davidson reported on the scoping meeting for a possible special report on renewable energy, held from 21-25 January 2008 in Lübeck, Germany (IPCC-XXVIII/Doc.3), highlighting the attendance of many internationally recognized experts and the importance of understanding the role of renewable technologies as markets increase and governments face difficult investment choices. He outlined the suggested structure of the special report, which includes five sections: renewable energy and climate change; energy sources; integration of renewable energy into energy systems; renewable energy in the context of sustainable development; mitigation potential and costs; and policy, financing and implementation. He also sketched out the timeline for the report, saying it could be available by 2010.

Noting that only 30 out of the 120 experts invited to the meeting were from developing countries, China, supported by many others, called for greater involvement of developing country experts, and proposed a greater focus on the production and use of technologies that are applicable and affordable in these countries.

China and many others also stressed the need to address food security in relation to bioenergy.

Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Iceland, Finland, Cuba and others emphasized the need to address energy efficiency. Saudi Arabia, with the US, preferred instead to address energy efficiency in a separate report, and emphasized cost-effectiveness and environmental impact. The US cautioned against focusing narrowly on the short term and suggested taking into account infrastructure and subsidies in costing.

Indonesia expressed concern about concentrating only on large-scale energy systems and, with Spain, Argentina and others, called for providing a regional perspective.

Belgium, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and others also suggested including, inter alia, impacts on water as well as on food production, biodiversity, and environmental and social impacts. Many countries also stressed the need to consider policy elements, including quality standards, international trade regulations and factors other than costs, such as deployment of new technologies and their competitiveness vis-à-vis other energy sources. Spain called for addressing barriers and technology transfer.

France also proposed that the International Energy Agency contribute to the report and, with Saudi Arabia, that information be included on greenhouse gas emissions during production and use of renewable energy technologies.

Brazil offered to host the first meeting towards developing the special report. He also noted Brazil’s long experience in the production and use of ethanol and hydropower, emphasized using a combination of energy sources to enhance energy security, and expressed hope that some misconceptions regarding the use of biofuels would be addressed in the special report. Finland suggested including sustainable forest management in the context of biomass use. The Netherlands called for addressing policy contexts, in particular in relation to biomass, and suggested including urban development in the section on integration into energy systems. Hungary, supported by Saudi Arabia, Finland and others, stressed the need to take into account all pros and cons of renewable energy sources.

Mexico suggested including the potential of renewables and their implications in relation to adaptation to climate change. The UK and others drew attention to the impacts of climate change on renewables, as well as air quality and health issues. Morocco proposed adding the topic of infrastructure sustainability. Argentina referred to other bioenergy sources, including those using methane. Venezuela, supported by Uruguay, suggested a greater focus on sustainable development, cooperation and technical assistance, and called for including nuclear energy.

Japan and Italy expressed concern with the tight schedule. The UK also noted a related report being prepared by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and cautioned against overlapping.

WGI Co-Chair Susan Solomon suggested that the authors be selected by the WGIII Bureau in consultation with other Working Group Bureaux, as appropriate.

The Panel approved the preparation of the Special Report.


This issue was taken up on Thursday (IPCC-XXVIII/Doc.11). Chair Pachauri announced that three activities had been proposed for use of Nobel Prize funds: dissemination of IPCC knowledge and collection of further knowledge on current vulnerabilities and coping capacities; support for scientists in developing countries; and preparation of a special report on climate change and peace. He said the prize money represents a unique opportunity and, therefore, should be managed as a separate fund for a special activity. He recommended also seeking other sources of funding for the special activity, such as bilateral and multilateral sources. He suggested trying to reach agreement on the general scope of such a special activity at IPCC-28 and consideration of further elements at later IPCC sessions, such as Terms of Reference for an executive board to administer the fund.

Discussion focused on the possible use of Nobel Prize funds for capacity building. Kenya suggested more definitive language on the purpose of the fund and Australia, supported by Canada and New Zealand, proposed that it be used to provide postgraduate and postdoctoral scholarships for young climate change scientists, particularly those from least developed countries. He proposed naming it the Bert Bolin Memorial Scholarship Fund. Brazil cautioned that this type of capacity building should result in enhanced capabilities in developing countries themselves.

Niger, supported by Venezuela, requested that some funds be used for two centers of research in Africa that need funding to continue to contribute to capacity building and training for scientists from least developed countries. Venezuela favored giving support especially on choosing methodologies and scenarios in developing countries. Kenya warned that these funds were “a drop in the ocean” of what Africa needs for climate change capacity building and recommended keeping the amount intact pending a thorough discussion of how to spend it.

The US queried the need for an executive board to manage the fund. The Chair responded that administration by the whole Bureau would be unwieldy. Australia asked for costing of overheads and for more discussion on the way forward.

Chair Pachauri proposed, and the Panel agreed to, revising the proposal for consideration at IPCC-29.


On Thursday, the Secretariat introduced a document on organizations requesting observer status in the IPCC (IPCC-XXVIII/Doc.5, Corr.1). The Panel approved accreditation of three intergovernmental organizations of relevance to the IPCC’s work: the South Centre, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). It also approved accreditation of 14 NGOs, but did not approve accreditation of Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies due to lack of needed documentation.

The Netherlands, on behalf of the European Union (EU), presented a proposal on enhancing the observer status of the European Community (EC) as a regional economic integration organization (REIO). He noted that EU member states have conferred powers on the EC with regard to climate change and that the EC is an active supporter of the IPCC through its funding of research activities. He asked that the IPCC develop its policy on observers in accordance with the practice of other intergovernmental organizations by allowing the EC the right to speak and reply and to introduce proposals and amendments, but not to vote nor be elected. A paper explaining the EC’s proposal and the rationale behind it was distributed. IPCC Secretary Christ detailed two options: to take a decision on the EC as a special case, or to amend the entire IPCC procedure for observer organizations. Japan queried the implications if the EC and its member states have different positions on a particular proposal. Sri Lanka requested information on which other regional intergovernmental organizations might qualify as REIOs. New Zealand proposed, and the Panel agreed, to defer this discussion to IPCC-29 to allow more time for consultation.


On Thursday, IPCC Secretary Christ briefed delegates on outreach activities, including those related to the finalization and distribution of the AR4; a forthcoming searchable version of the AR4; work with Technical Support Units, the TGICA and lead authors to make the AR4 graphics package more attractive; and collaborations with institutions within the UN system on products derived from IPCC reports. She noted that the Secretariat had been flooded with requests for speakers and presentations on the AR4.

WGIII Co-Chair Metz and WGII Co-Chair Parry drew attention to various outreach activities of their respective Working Groups, such as booklets prepared with UNEP in various UN languages, and meetings on outreach in Japan, Hungary, Morocco and China in collaboration with the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute (GISPRI) (IPCC-XXVIII/Doc.10 and IPCC-XXVIII/Doc.12).


On Thursday, Chair Pachauri presented the Technical Paper on Climate Change and Water (IPCC-XXVIII/Doc.13), which was finalized by the Bureau, to the Panel for its information. Spain emphasized the centrality of the topic and drew attention to the celebration of the International Exhibition Zaragoza 2008, which will be dedicated to water and sustainable development and include a section on climate change. Spain will consider the Technical Paper as a basis and she noted plans to invite the paper’s authors.


A progress report on emissions scenarios (IPCC-XXVIII/Doc.8) was presented to the Panel on Thursday. Two others, on the activities of TGICA (IPCC-XXVIII/Doc.9) and of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme (IPCC-XXVIII/Doc.4) were made available.

EMISSIONS SCENARIOS: Ismail Elgizouli, Co-Chair of the New Scenarios Steering Committee, introduced the report from the IPCC Expert Meeting Towards New Scenarios for Analysis of Emissions, Climate Change, Impacts, and Response Strategies (IPCC-XVIII/Doc.8), which was held in Noordwijkerhout, the Netherlands, on 19-21 September 2007. He noted that 130 participants took part in the workshop, with about 30% coming from developing countries and economies in transition, and said the report has gone through peer review. 

Richard Moss, Co-Chair of the New Scenarios Steering Committee, presented the main outcomes of the workshop. He noted that this workshop was requested in the decision on further work on emissions scenarios taken at IPCC-26 and that its goal was to identify a set of “benchmark emissions scenarios” (now referred to as Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs)), which should be compatible with the full range of stabilization, mitigation and baseline emissions scenarios available in the current scientific literature. Moss noted that the research community has developed a parallel approach to scenario development where, on the basis of identified RCPs, climate change projections and emissions and socioeconomic scenarios are being developed simultaneously. He said the new scenario process will develop near-term scenarios that cover the period to about 2035 and long-term scenarios that cover the period to 2100 and, in more stylized way, the period to 2300. Moss said the RCPs will be completed in September 2008 and noted the importance of an early decision on the timeline and phases of AR5. He proposed that the TGICA take the role of regular monitoring and reporting to the Panel on progress in the planned activities.

The Panel supported the need for monitoring.


Chair Pachauri said the 29th session of the IPCC is planned for 1-4 September 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland.


IPCC Chair Pachauri and Secretary Christ thanked the Panel, translators and others and, after presenting the Hungarian hosts with thank-you gifts, closed the meeting at 5:56 pm.



In the words of UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer, the IPCC has been “an engine that drives the climate change policy process.” In 2007, the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) conclusively put to rest the skepticism about climate change. Its outcomes are globally acknowledged to have played a crucial role in creating momentum for the breakthrough at the historic Bali climate change conference in December, and all indications are that the work of the IPCC will be even more important to spur the commitments and actions generally perceived to be needed in the future. Indeed, the IPCC was recognized in 2007 by being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with Al Gore for their efforts to “build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change,” described as the most serious environmental crisis the world faces today.

At this time when the IPCC finds itself at a high point, the main topic on the agenda for the twenty-eighth session was its future. The need to address the future comes after the successful completion and dissemination of the AR4, although memories of some of the difficulties and frustrations that are necessarily inherent in such a major undertaking as the AR4 process are still fresh. It is understandable then that while calls for improvements resonated widely, and some guidance was agreed to ensure that the most glaring gaps are addressed in the future, the reality that this was a very short meeting, combined with the proven success of the IPCC and a perhaps a need to pause and recoup after the very intense period just undergone, IPCC-28 produced a result that very much maintained the status quo.

This brief analysis will address the issues underlying the discussions that took place at IPCC-28 on the future of the IPCC, including possible modifications to the Working Group structure and the timeline for the Fifth Assessment cycle, and the changing nature of policy needs.


Given that the IPCC is currently riding the crest of a wave of success, there was little revolutionary fervor on display in Budapest. Despite some isolated calls for more radical action, the Panel decided to maintain the current structure and process and adopt only a few evolutionary changes.

Many comments were heard about how different things are today from twenty years ago, when the IPCC was first created. Not only is the reality of climate change well established, thanks in large measure to the work of the IPCC, but even the political will to address the problem has been strengthened, as demonstrated at the latest UNFCCC conference in Bali. This means that the IPCC, which was created to address the needs of policy-makers, will be subject to higher expectations in the future as it is predicted that the demand for information will increase dramatically.

An early sign of this was the proposal by the IPCC Chair to create a task force specifically to address economic issues related to climate change. While most countries found that such a task force was unwarranted because it could put too much emphasis on costing at the expense of broader environmental and socioeconomic concerns, participants agreed on the need to increase attention to practical action and options. Many believe that the IPCC should adapt to this changing context and anticipate trends that will result from the renewed public concern about climate change. After all, despite its successes, greenhouse gas emissions are still growing across the world.


The AR4 was widely found to be most wanting in its abstract treatment of adaptation and lack of depth of regional information. Both of these areas fall within the realm of Working Group II (WGII). Consequently, the most radical changes proposed to the structure of the Working Groups had to do with changing the distribution of work. Whether it was as reflected in a proposal to merge the three Groups into two, with one addressing causes and impacts and the other addressing solutions, or to add a fourth Working Group to share WGII’s load, a main concern at IPCC-28 was that more attention had to be paid to the topics covered under WGII.

Clearly, the topics assigned to WGII, i.e. “the vulnerability of socioeconomic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and adaptation options” hardly allows for much focus. This scope was defined at a time when impacts, vulnerability and adaptation were generally addressed together in the literature. However, this approach is increasingly changing, as countries recognize greater urgency to take action to adapt to effects already being perceived. With the AR4 clearly stating that some degree of adaptation will be necessary given that the accumulation of greenhouse gases has already “committed” the earth to a certain level of warming, and with the Bali Action Plan moving adaptation on a par with mitigation, work on adaptation is widely expected to increase exponentially. 

For the same reason, the focus is increasingly moving from the global to regional and local scales, in order to better understand the specific impacts expected and to assess possible adaptation options. It is at this scale where adaptation is most likely to be needed, even though defining “regions” is part of the work required for this effort. The request for guidance on available adaptation options signals a move from more theoretical concerns to concrete needs.


In the end, though, it was clear that there was no momentum for far-reaching changes, despite the fact that after hitting a high point, as one participant put it, “there is nowhere for the IPCC to go but down.”

Agreement was easily reached on the production of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). However, much time was devoted to discussing how to adapt the AR5 to the timeline needed for developing key scenario products in order to ensure full use of the new scenarios. This resulted in consensus on the necessity to modify the scheduling of Working Group assessment reports so that the WGI report is delivered early enough to allow time for WGII to integrate scenarios into impacts, adaptation and vulnerability studies. The fact that the IPCC agreed to revise the assessment cycle in order to make use of the most current scenarios indicates the possibility of improvement in IPCC outputs. It is still unclear, however, how the new AR5 cycle will link to the actual policy-making process under the UNFCCC. There is a continuing tension, as observed at IPCC-28, between catering to the needs of policy-makers and compromising the ideal of scientific objectivity by allowing policy-makers to delineate the parameters of scientific discussion.

A shift in focus for the IPCC was manifested at this session: from the “hard” science on the existence and causes of climate change to the increasing urgency to obtain information on regional impacts, adaptation and mitigation options. As Bertrand Russell put it, by way of Yvo de Boer in his opening statement, the goal of science is to formulate a problem in such a way that leads to a solution. While the IPCC decided to retain its current structure and continue to conduct comprehensive assessments, it did spend some time thinking about areas where there is room for improvement in order to deliver solutions.

The need to adapt to a changing climate applies to both the IPCC and the world at large. The IPCC recognizes this need to adapt to evolving policy demands, but adaptation and change, even in the face of facts, are a big undertaking, especially when you’re doing well.


INTERNATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY CONFERENCE IN AFRICA: This conference will be held from 16-18 April 2008 in Dakar, Senegal. The focus of the meeting is “Making renewable energy markets work for Africa: Policies, Industries and Finance for Scaling-Up.” The conference is jointly organized by the African Union, the Government of Senegal, the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and UNIDO. For more information, contact: Alois Mhlanga, UNIDO; tel: +431-260-265-169; fax: +431-260-266-855; e-mail:; internet:

FOREST DAY: SHAPING THE DEBATE ON FORESTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE IN CENTRAL AFRICA: Forest Day will be held on 24 April 2008 in Yaoundé, Cameroon. A broad range of forest stakeholders is expected to analyze social, economic, scientific, technological and political issues in order to provide a stepping stone for informed climate policies in the region. For more information, contact: Janneke Romijn; tel: +237-2222-7449/7451; fax: +237-2222-7450; e-mail:; internet:

INTERNATIONAL GEF WORKSHOP ON EVALUATING CLIMATE CHANGE AND DEVELOPMENT: RESULTS, METHODS AND CAPACITIES: This meeting will convene from 10-13 May 2008, in Alexandria, Egypt. The GEF Evaluation Office is organizing this workshop, which will permit sharing of experiences in evaluating projects and programmes aimed at the nexus between climate change and development. For more information, contact the Secretariat of the International Workshop: tel: +1-202-458-8537; fax: +1-202-522-1691; e-mail:; internet:

IPCC WORKSHOP ON IPCC GUIDANCE ON ESTIMATING EMISSIONS AND REMOVALS FROM LAND USES: This workshop will meet from 13-15 May 2008 in Helsinki, Finland. It will bring experts together to consider the current IPCC guidance on estimating emissions and removals of greenhouse gases from land uses such as agriculture and forestry. For more information, contact: Technical Support Unit to the IPCC National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies; tel: +81-46855 3750; fax: +81-46855 3808; e-mail:; internet:

G8 ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS’ MEETING: The meeting will take place from 24-26 May 2008 in Kobe, Japan in preparation for the 2008 G8 Summit, to be held 7-9 July 2008 in Hokkaido, Japan. For more information, contact: Preparatory Task Force for the G8 Environment Ministers’ Meeting, Ministry of the Environment: tel: +81(0)3-5521-8347; fax: +81(0)3-5521-8276; e-mail:; internet:

28TH SESSIONS OF THE UNFCCC SUBSIDIARY BODIES: The 28th sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies to the UNFCCC are scheduled to take place from 2-13 June 2008 in Bonn, Germany. The second meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action and the resumed fifth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol are also scheduled to meet. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; internet:

HIGH-LEVEL CONFERENCE ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY AND THE CHALLENGES OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND BIOENERGY: This conference will occur from 3-5 June 2008 in Rome, Italy. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is organizing this conference, which will address food security and poverty reduction in the face of climate change and energy security. For more information, contact: Office of the Assistant Director-General, Natural Resources Management and Environment Department, FAO; tel: +39 06 57051; fax: +39 06 570 53064; e-mail:; internet:

EXPO ZARAGOZA 2008: This international exhibition will occur from 14 June-14 September 2008 in Barcelona, Spain. It is intended to provide information on projects, resources and experiences on water and sustainable development. For more information, contact: Ultramar Express Event Management; tel: +34 93 482 7322; Fax: +34 93 482 7166; email:; internet:

A NEW GLOBAL DEAL? ACHIEVING REAL COLLABORATION FOR A LOW CARBON FUTURE: This conference will take place from 16-17 June 2008 in London, UK. It will take stock of current climate change actions and adopt a real-world approach to international collaboration on key issues.  For more information, contact: Conference Unit, Chatham House; tel: +44 (0)20 7957 5753; fax: +44 (0)20 7321 2045; e-mail:; internet:

ICAO WORKSHOP: AVIATION AND CARBON MARKETS: This workshop, organized by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), will meet from 18-19 June 2008 in Montreal, Canada. It will bring together top financial, industry and environment experts to explore possible ways of including international civil aviation in a global carbon market. For more information, contact: Environmental Unit, Air Transport Bureau, ICAO; tel: +1-514-954-8219, ext. 6321; fax: +1 514-954-6077; e-mail:; internet:

THIRD SESSION OF THE AD HOC WORKING GROUP ON LONG-TERM COOPERATIVE ACTION UNDER THE UNFCCC AND SIXTH SESSION OF THE AWG UNDER THE KYOTO PROTOCOL: The third meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action is expected to take place in August/September 2008, location and date to be determined. The sixth session of the AWG on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Protocol will also take place at the same time. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; internet:

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON “FINANCING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE – CHALLENGES AND WAY FORWARD”: This conference will convene from 15-17 August 2008 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Arranged by a Bangladesh-based think tank, Unnayan Onneshan, this conference will focus on financial mechanisms for supporting mitigation activities to combat climate change. For more information, contact: Nazmul Huq, Unnayan Onneshan; tel: +880-2-815-8274; fax: +880-2-815-9135; e-mail:; internet:

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ADAPTATION OF FORESTS AND FOREST MANAGEMENT TO CHANGING CLIMATE WITH EMPHASIS ON FOREST HEALTH: A REVIEW OF SCIENCE, POLICIES AND PRACTICES: This meeting will convene from 25-28 August 2008, in Umeå, Sweden. The meeting will be co-hosted by the FAO, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and will focus on the current state of knowledge of ongoing changes in climatic conditions in different regions of the world, and the implications of these changes for forest health, forest management and conservation. For more information, contact: Björn Hånell, IUFRO; tel: +46-90-786-8297; e-mail:; internet:

29TH SESSION OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC-29):  IPCC-29 is scheduled to take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1-4 September 2008. The meeting will celebrate the IPCC’s 20th anniversary. For more information, contact: IPCC Secretariat; tel: +41-22-730-8208; fax: +41-22-7 30-8025/13; e-mail:; internet:

This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <> is written and edited by Deborah Davenport, Ph.D., María Gutiérrez, Ph.D. and Yulia Yamineva. The Editor is Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D. <> and the Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the United Kingdom (through the Department for International Development – DFID), the Government of the United States of America (through the Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs), the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Germany (through the German Federal Ministry of Environment - BMU and the German Federal Ministry of Development Cooperation - BMZ), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission (DG-ENV), the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, and the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). General Support for the Bulletin during 2008 is provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Australia, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, the Ministry of Environment of Sweden, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES) and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (through the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute - GISPRI). Funding for translation of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin into French has been provided by the International Organization of the Francophonie (IOF). Funding for the translation of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin into Spanish has been provided by the Ministry of Environment of Spain. The opinions expressed in the Earth Negotiations Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11A, New York, NY 10022, USA.

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