Highlights and images for 26 March 2021

On Friday, the last meeting day, delegates discussed adjustments to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s strategic planning schedule for the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), with a first part on modalities for the Working Group I (WG I) approval session, and a second part on preparations for the AR7 Bureau elections.

Modalities for the WG I approval session

Delegates continued exchanging views on modalities for the WG I report approval session in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many delegations urging to conduct the approval session, as scheduled, in July-August 2021, using virtual arrangements. Some delegations expressed concerns over virtual arrangements, underscoring the need for conformity with IPCC rules and procedures, especially the line-by-line approval of the Summary for Policymakers. Several delegations in support of conducting a virtual approval called for emphasizing the exceptional pandemic circumstances and clarifying that modalities agreed to for the WG I approval would not be unconditionally replicated in subsequent sessions, noting that meetings should be conducted physically whenever possible. Several delegations called for intersessionally collecting views to inform the development of concrete meeting modalities, for example on structuring the submission of comments during question and answer sessions, and define a step-by-step scenario of the session.


Hoesung Lee, IPCC Chair

Discussions over iterations of a draft decision presented by the Secretariat mostly pertained to clarifying the allocation of responsibilities between the Secretariat, the IPCC Bureau, and the WG I Co-Chairs and Bureau for: collecting views, developing guidance, and making arrangements for how to promote transparency, inclusiveness, and equal opportunity in a possible virtual WG I approval session. 

In its decision on the strategic planning schedule, the Panel:

  • Defines a process for the Secretariat to solicit views from IPCC Focal Points and the Bureau on how to promote transparency, inclusiveness, and equal opportunity in a possible virtual WG I approval session; and for the WG I Co-Chairs and WG I Bureau, within approved rules and procedures, to make appropriate arrangements for holding an approval session starting in July 2021 based on the received guidance and direction, and to report back on these to the Panel intersessionally by correspondence, prior to IPCC-54; and
  • Clarifies that any arrangements taken in light of the COVID-19 pandemic will not set a precedent for future IPCC sessions.

Preparations for the AR7 Bureau elections

Delegates discussed a draft decision on this issue prepared by the Secretariat which would align the process in a way that would allow elections to take place at the 58th IPCC Plenary session (IPCC-58), six months after the approval of the Synthesis Report (SYR). The key point raised in the discussions was the need to avoid overlaps between discussing the work of the proposed Ad Hoc Open-Ended Group and report approvals. Other points related to, among others: noting the importance of including the perspectives of all countries, with explicit reference to regional groups under the World Meteorological Organization; specifying that the mandate of the Group is to provide recommendations to the Panel, not make decisions; and the understanding that Bureau Members could provide input to the Group.

The notion of an IPCC-57 bis Plenary to take place the week following SYR approval at IPCC-57 emerged to specify when a decision on the Group’s work would be taken, with some delegations calling for flexibility rather than defining this timing so far in advance. Others highlighted the need to adjust references to when the Secretariat’s letter inviting nominations would be sent to accurately reflect the timing of the decision.


Ermira Fida, IPCC Deputy Secretary (center)

In its decision on the strategic planning schedule, the Panel:

  • Establishes an Ad-hoc Group with open-ended membership to provide recommendations to the Panel on the size, structure, and composition of the IPCC Bureau for AR7; and
  • Adopts Terms of Reference for the Group, as annexed to the decision.

The Ad Hoc Group was launched, with the US and Saudi Arabia serving as Co-Chairs, and Germany and Venezuela as Rapporteurs.

The Panel also discussed and took note of progress reports: on data, communications, publications, gender, Secretariat staffing, and matters related to other international bodies, and admitted new observer organizations.

The session, initially scheduled to last 3 hours, went into an overtime of a little more than 3 hours. Chair Lee closed the meeting at 03:21 am CET on Saturday, 17 March.

Kindly return to this page on Monday, 29 March for the summary and analysis of IPCC-53 bis.