Summary report, 16–19 January 2024

60th Session of the IPCC (IPCC-60)

The 60th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-60) was the first substantive meeting of the Panel for its seventh assessment cycle. During this meeting, the IPCC took crucial decisions on its work plan for the coming years, including on the products and timelines for its outputs. Deliberations on the range of possibilities illuminated diverging views and priorities, and what might have been a fairly straightforward exercise in agenda setting evolved into fraught deliberations that ran overnight on Friday and well into Saturday morning.

Key challenges included deciding on the set of outputs for this cycle, the topics of potential Special Reports, and the timelines for delivery of the Working Groups’ contributions and production of a Synthesis Report. An invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to align with the second global stocktake was prioritized by many delegations, but was also a source of significant concern to others.

Governments worked intensively throughout the week to bridge the divides, but the compromises required to reach agreement were substantial. The meeting teetered on the brink of failure on Saturday morning, with IPCC Chair Jim Skea half-jokingly warning that the time to leave the venue was near and further consultations would shortly have to be held on the street. Delegates refused to give up, however, and huddled to resolve major differences. Ultimately, they were able to find a path forward, and agreed on a workplan that will include contributions from the three working groups, a synthesis report, a Special Report on Climate Change and Cities, two methodology reports, and revision of technical guidelines on impacts and adaptation.

IPCC Chair Skea lauded the extraordinary efforts of the Panel to achieve this result, which will enable it to move ahead with scoping and other work that will be essential to timely delivery of policy relevant outputs.   

IPCC-60 convened in Istanbul, Türkiye, from 16-19 January 2024. However, delegations worked through the last night, concluding on Saturday morning, 20 January. The session was attended by over 375 people representing 120 governments and 26 observer organizations. 

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 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 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 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 and any other special and methodological reports and 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, hosted by the WMO.

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.”

IPCC Products

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 their key findings. 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 produced a range of special reports on climate change-related issues. The sixth assessment report (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.

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, during the AR6 cycle, three special reports (SRCCL, SROCC, and, in response to an invitation from the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 21), SR1.5) and the 2019 Refinement. The Panel also agreed that a Special Report on Climate Change and 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 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 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 to the next meeting. IPCC-57 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.

Seventh Assessment Cycle

In July 2023, IPCC-59 elected a new slate of leaders to guide the Panel’s work during the seventh assessment cycle, including Jim Skea (UK) to serve as Chair.

IPCC-60 Report

On Tuesday, 16 January, IPCC Chair Jim Skea welcomed delegates to the first substantive session of the seventh assessment (AR7) cycle, highlighted the impact of the IPCC’s outputs from previous assessment cycles, and emphasized that “today, more than ever,” science plays a pivotal role in informing the outcomes of negotiations under the UNFCCC. Chair Skea encouraged the Panel to draw on both past achievements and lessons learned and be “bold and strategic in shaping the future IPCC work.”

UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen called for: promoting inclusivity and balance; maintaining policy relevance; and advancing interdisciplinarity and integration in the IPCC’s work to set out “clear signposts that will lead us to a better world.”

Celeste Saulo, Secretary General, WMO, welcomed the IPCC’s commitment to improving regional and gender balance, which she said is firmly aligned with WMO’s approach. Noting that 2023 was Earth’s warmest year by a large margin and that 2024 could be even warmer, Saulo highlighted WMO’s Early Warnings for All initiative to ensure full coverage of early warning systems by 2027 and the IPCC’s role in making the case for such investment. She expressed trust that the Panel would decide on an ambitious, meaningful, and realistic programme of work for the AR7 cycle.

Simon Stiell, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, said that COP 28 is widely viewed as marking the “beginning of the end” for fossil fuels. He said the IPCC can take a lot of credit for how far the world has come, emphasizing the Panel’s critical role in establishing the goal to keep global warming to no more than 1.5º C and guiding the path forward. He added that the IPCC’s comprehensive inputs by early 2027 would be invaluable to inform the second global stocktake (GST-2), which is scheduled to conclude in 2028, and highlighted upcoming updates to countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in 2025. Observing that aligning IPCC and UNFCCC timelines can speed action on climate change, he exhorted the Panel to “move forward with determination and unity.”

Fatma Varank, Deputy Minister of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change, Türkiye, underscored the importance of the Paris Agreement, saying that Türkiye is experiencing negative impacts of climate change, including floods, forest fires, and droughts. She highlighted the importance of resilient and livable cities and said Türkiye would like to see more women and young authors participating in the IPCC’s seventh assessment cycle.

Chair Skea then introduced the provisional agenda (IPCC-LX/Doc.1, Rev.1), which was approved (Decision IPCC-LX- 1). The Panel also approved the draft report of the 59th session (IPCC-LX/Doc. 8) (Decision IPCC-LX- 2).

IPCC Trust Fund Programme and Budget

Chair Skea opened this agenda item on Tuesday. Highlighting the importance of establishing a Financial Task Team (FiTT) for the new assessment cycle early in the meeting, Chair Skea explained that such a team would comprise two Co-Chairs and four core team members from governments represented on the IPCC Bureau, as set out in the Financial Procedures for the IPCC.

The IPCC established the FiTT, with Kenya and Australia as Co-Chairs and core team members from Bahamas, Norway, Saudi Arabia, and the US.

Budget for the years 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026: The Secretariat reported on the income, expenditure and budget of the IPCC (IPCC-LX/Doc. 2). Chair Skea added that, as previously agreed, Bureau meetings will alternately take place online and in-person. Noting that multi-year pledges are helpful, Chair Skea asked countries to make their 2024 contributions.

SAUDI ARABIA sought clarification on: budget decreases related to travel; Secretariat staffing needs in the seventh assessment cycle; and a report on travel-related GHG emissions associated with IPCC meetings.

The FiTT met several times during the session. On Saturday morning, the FiTT Co-Chairs presented the group’s findings and a range of recommendations for approval, including on: contributions to the Data Center; science editors and translations; Secretariat staffing, including two new positions; and extension of participation by developing countries in the IPCC. They also presented a revised 2023 budget and a proposed budget for 2024, as well as a forecast 2025 budget and indicative 2026 budget.

The Panel approved the IPCC Trust Fund Programme and Budget for the years 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026, as presented (Decision IPCC-LX-10).  

Any other matters: On Tuesday, Mxolisi Shongwe, IPCC Secretariat, reported on Financial Implications and Estimates Associated with Travel-related Carbon Emissions of Holding Physical, Virtual and Hybrid Meetings (IPCC-LX/Doc. 12). He noted a preliminary analysis demonstrating the lower cost and reduced carbon footprint of virtual meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared with in-person meetings. He further highlighted, inter alia: the potential for hybrid meetings; the impact of optimal venue selection, with reduced interpretation expenses and lower rental costs; and the possibility of establishing carbon reduction targets and carbon offsetting.

IPCC Vice-Chair Ladislaus Chang’a, supported by EGYPT, KENYA, SOUTH AFRICA, INDIA, ALGERIA, THE GAMBIA, VENEZUELA, CHAD, BRAZIL, CUBA, MOROCCO, NIGER, IRAQ, TÜRKIYE, BHUTAN, NIGERIA, UKRAINE, BURUNDI, SENEGAL, ARGENTINA, SOMALIA, ETHIOPIA, ZIMBABWE, and CHINA, stressed the importance of effective participation and inclusiveness, and expressed concern about the challenges faced by developing countries participating in virtual meetings, including connectivity issues.

EGYPT highlighted the importance of in-person meetings for regional group coordination and called for at least two representatives from each country to attend major meetings. BURUNDI drew attention to the drop in participation by developing countries during the COVID-19 pandemic and underscored the importance of in-person meetings for the exchange of experiences among those in the Global South.

CHILE noted that virtual meetings are often conducted on top of regular office work, and to reduce carbon footprints, suggested hybrid meetings with limited in-person participants. PAKISTAN, UKRAINE, GERMANY and many others underscored flexibility and called for exploring hybrid formats to broaden inclusivity, including so that additional delegation members can participate from home.

SENEGAL cited the carbon impacts of different travel routes and, supported by FRANCE and others, proposed regional hub meetings.

NORWAY, the US, and FRANCE welcomed the opportunity to reignite the discussion on this matter. SWITZERLAND and IRAN supported optimal venue selection and hosting meetings in countries with UN offices. Sonia Seneviratne, WGI Vice-Chair, underscored the need to address the IPCC’s carbon footprint and the importance of setting an example. She cautioned against carbon offsets, citing greenwashing, and suggested exploring options including regional hubs and improving internet connectivity. Eduardo Calvo Buendía, WGIII Vice-Chair, recalled the UN Carbon Offset Platform, which forms part of the Climate Neutral Now initiative, with UNFCCC-certified projects.

Zinta Zommers, WGII Vice-Chair, called for attention to gender and age differences, noting that women are often responsible for dependents and bear the additional costs of work-related travel. In contrast, Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, IPCC Vice-Chair, said caring for children is often harder during virtual meetings and, with INDIA, suggested provision of childcare support during meetings. Ürge-Vorsatz also suggested limiting the participation of observer organizations to virtual, saying only wealthier organizations are able to attend in person, and emphasizing train options, when feasible, in travel guidelines.

Edvin Aldrian, WGI Vice-Chair, highlighted the potential benefits of back-to-back meetings, hybrid options, and regional hubs. Ramón Pichs-Madruga, IPCC Vice-Chair, with Cromwel Lukorito, WGII Vice-Chair, and Carlos Méndez, WGII Vice-Chair, proposed further analysis of effective participation.

Chair Skea proposed, and the Panel agreed, to have the FiTT consider the way forward.

IPCC Secretary Abdalah Mokssit presented the IPCC Secretariat staffing needs in the seventh assessment cycle (IPCC-LX/Doc. 7), highlighting the increased workload during the sixth assessment cycle and stressing the need for a backup for workstreams with currently only one staff member.

Chair Skea suggested, and the Panel agreed, this should be discussed by the FiTT.

Admission of Observer Organizations

On Thursday, the IPCC Secretariat reported on this issue (IPCC-LX/Doc. 3, Rev. 1), noting 26 new requests for admission and three pending applications.

TÜRKIYE said that evaluation of the Cyprus Institute was still pending and requested postponing approval.

The Panel granted observer status to the new organizations, with the exception of the Cyprus Institute.

Chair’s Vision for the Seventh Assessment Cycle

On Wednesday, Chair Skea proposed to address as a package documents related to: the Chair’s vision for the seventh assessment cycle; lessons learned from the sixth assessment cycle; and planning for the seventh assessment cycle. Outlining his vision for the seventh assessment cycle (IPCC-LX/Doc. 6), Chair Skea highlighted interdisciplinarity, policy relevance, and inclusivity as core themes for his chairmanship and urged a timely start to this assessment cycle. He called for developing a clear idea about the products of the seventh assessment cycle at this meeting and following up on lessons learned from the sixth assessment cycle, possibly in a Task Group after IPCC-60.

Lessons Learned from the Sixth Assessment Cycle

IPCC Deputy Secretary Ermira Fida presented an analysis of lessons learned from the sixth assessment cycle, prepared by the Informal Group on Lessons Learned (IPCC-LX/INF. 9), based on observations and recommendations from Member Countries, Bureau members, and TSUs on the IPCC’s scientific processes, organizational elements, and communication. Focusing on recommendations pertinent to the IPCC’s programme of work, she provided an overview of key findings, including on: transitions between assessment cycles and continuity; updating principles and procedures; collaboration between and integration across WGs; quantity, brevity and type of IPCC products; and authorship and diversity. She noted that some recommendations had already been considered in the first steps of this assessment cycle and suggested conducting a survey to identify priorities among the lessons learned.

Chair Skea noted the lessons learned are “extremely broad in scope,” and said the document includes approximately 100 issues that will require attention. He invited governments to share their views on the process for addressing these issues, rather than the substance of the analysis, and highlighted the possibility of establishing a Task Group to consider the issues and work toward consensus on implementation.

Governments universally supported the establishment of a Task Group to address lessons learned. The US suggested this group should exchange views and potentially lead discussions at a future meeting to identify a way forward. He emphasized that this discussion would be separate from a future review of the rules and procedures of the IPCC. GERMANY suggested Bureau members participate in the Task Group as advisors and said the group should propose a prioritization of issues for consideration at IPCC-61.

SAUDI ARABIA said the group should review the issues objectively and comprehensively, adding that the recommendations of the Informal Group on Lessons Learned are premature and may prejudge the Task Group’s deliberations. BELGIUM noted there are recommendations that could be implemented in the short term, including improving inclusivity and the effective participation of women.

CANADA, the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), and Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) encouraged the establishment of a separate Task Group with Indigenous leadership to consider how the IPCC could ethically include Indigenous Knowledge in its work. FWCC urged better inclusion of the voices of observers and civil society, including youth.

Describing the Lessons Learned compilation as useful but not representative of all inputs, INDIA said the group’s mandate should be to produce a compendium of best practices and should not include any provision for modification of the IPCC principles of work or rules of procedure.

NORWAY emphasized the need for a mechanism or alternative product that would allow the IPCC to respond to policy needs as they come up in a cycle and, with the NETHERLANDS and AUSTRALIA, stressed the importance of long-term planning.

SWITZERLAND underscored the need for the IPCC to be able to respond swiftly to emerging requests and, with many other governments, supported exploring synergies with related processes, including the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). AZERBAIJAN noted the challenge of fully assessing the increasing “flood of information” while ensuring balance, and suggested cooperation with all countries and other organizations, especially IPBES. VENEZUELA called for assessing cooperation between the IPCC and related institutions. LUXEMBOURG, AUSTRALIA, SWEDEN, and others supported the proposal in the Chair’s Vision document to have IPCC Vice-Chairs liaise with some of these related organizations. SAUDI ARABIA opposed, saying there is no mandate for this activity and describing the Vice-Chairs’ roles as focal points was “ambiguous and vague.”

FRANCE highlighted the importance of reducing authors’ workload, focusing on the most recent data and relevant topics, and making data accessible to policymakers.

IRAN underscored the need for better literature from developing countries, improved accessibility of data, and outreach in countries most affected by climate change. INDIA said the Task Group’s consideration of equity should include attention to the balanced representation of literature, including by clearly signaling gaps and ensuring the inclusion of work by developing country governments.

The NETHERLANDS supported including consideration of IPCC Principles and Procedures. SAUDI ARABIA and SOUTH AFRICA opposed this suggestion, saying these should be addressed separately.

ITALY, supported by the EU, called for including consideration of academic literature on the IPCC to ensure a long-term perspective. The EU also called for consulting observer organizations.

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA cautioned against watering down the integrity of the IPCC’s work by integrating vast amounts of grey literature and called for establishing practices to facilitate the inclusion of such information.

BOLIVIA called for launching a process to collect additional views, including views on equity and climate justice, and to incorporate different types of knowledge. KENYA stressed the need to enhance inclusiveness and equity, especially through diversity in authorship and engaging Indigenous Knowledge systems. EGYPT and NIGERIA underscored the importance of regional representation. URUGUAY called for better representation of experts from her region. THE GAMBIA and BANGLADESH called for selecting more scientists from the Global South. CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK (CAN) EUROPE observed that some WG report chapters are dominated by the work of a few heavily cited authors.

MADAGASCAR highlighted a lack of understanding of the climate system for most areas in Africa due to limited literature and observation data and called for better regional balance in the literature to achieve inclusivity. BURUNDI and ALGERIA underscored the importance of both regional and continental balance in literature to ensure availability of reliable data and overcome knowledge gaps. BANGLADESH suggested stronger involvement of focal points, noting many impacts of climate change in developing countries are not captured in the consulted literature. SRI LANKA and NIGER called for better inclusion of local data, highlighting that data from developing countries exists, “but doesn’t find its way into the report.” ALGERIA, supported by EGYPT, called for increasing the relevance of IPCC reports for her region by focusing on issues such as desertification, drought, and food security.

SPAIN called for monitoring progress on responses to the lessons learned.

Chair Skea noted universal support for establishing a group to address lessons learned. Deputy Secretary Fida presented the proposal for an ad hoc group chaired by Farhan Akhtar (US) and Maesela Kekana (South Africa) with a mandate to advise governments on the way forward, addressing the lessons learned from the AR6 cycle including, but not limited to, those identified in IPCC-LX/INF. 9.

INDIA and SAUDI ARABIA noted a lack of comprehensiveness in the compilation of lessons learned.

Planning for the Seventh Assessment Cycle

Synthesis of IPCC Member Countries’ views on the products for the seventh assessment cycle: On Wednesday, IPCC Deputy Secretary Fida presented a Synthesis of IPCC Member Countries’ Views on the products for the seventh assessment cycle (IPCC-LX/INF. 6, Rev.1). Fida highlighted that nearly all countries favored maintaining three WG contributions with a synthesis report and producing other reports in addition to the already agreed Special Report on Climate Change and Cities. As topics for such additional reports, she reported that “tipping points,” “climate change adaptation, adaptation goal, adaptation metrics, limits, and gaps to adaptation” and “loss and damage” garnered the most mentions.

Options for the Programme of Work in the seventh assessment cycle: Katherine Calvin, WGIII Co-Chair, presented a document on the options for the programme of work (IPCC-LX/Doc. 4, Rev. 1). She outlined three main options based on input from the Lessons Learned from the sixth assessment cycle (IPCC-LX/INF. 9), the Synthesis of Member Countries’ Views on the Products for the seventh assessment cycle (IPCC-LX/INF. 6), relevant UNFCCC decisions, and discussions at the 66th IPCC Bureau meeting:

  • a light option, including three WG assessment reports, a synthesis report, a previously agreed Special Report on Climate Change and Cities and a previously agreed Methodology Report on SLCFs;
  • a classical option, extending the light cycle by adding a second Special Report and an extra TFI Methodology Report; and
  • a special report gallery option, which would replace the three WG reports with a series of Special Reports and an extra TFI Methodology Report.

Calvin noted time constraints associated with each option and said that producing a single WG assessment report requires four full years from the scoping call to the final release. On topics for additional Special Reports, she presented four groupings of topics that captured the largest number of suggestions: “reversible and irreversible climate change impacts and how to avoid and respond to tipping points;” “exceeding a warming level and returning;” “climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);” and “adaptation.”

Chair Skea invited views on the IPCC’s programme of work for the AR7 cycle, asking delegates to focus on: whether WG reports and a synthesis report (SYR) should be produced; if an additional Special Report should be considered; and which topics would be preferable for such a Special Report.


While disagreeing with the names given to the options, SOUTH AFRICA, EGYPT, INDIA, BOLIVIA, and SAUDI ARABIA also preferred IPCC’s traditional structure of three WG reports and a SYR. BOLIVIA underscored the importance of consistency across cycles. IRAN said WG reports and the SYR should be the pillars of AR7.

SINGAPORE said the classical option would afford the best balance between policy responsiveness and high-quality scientific research, and would strengthen interactivity with the UNFCCC by delivering two Special Reports for the next GST. JAPAN said the classical option was most realistic but expressed concern that the cycle would not be timely enough to allow input from AR8 into GST-3 in 2033.

GRENADA, SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS, HAITI, and JAMAICA supported the light option. IRAQ supported the light option with an additional Special Report on adaptation. CHINA supported the light option without additional Special Reports, saying this would reduce the burden on authors and allow the Panel to focus on improving the quality of reports. Underscoring the importance of providing input to the GST, the US and REPUBLIC OF KOREA preferred the light option with a comprehensive assessment, to be completed by 2028.

The BAHAMAS suggested a hybrid approach between the classical and light options and agreed on the importance of providing input to the GST, particularly with regard to adaptation and loss and damage.

AUSTRIA said it was prepared to work within the classical or Special Report gallery framework but said the timeline under the light option was too optimistic. SWITZERLAND said timing is paramount in this cycle and the light option could not assure delivery of outputs ahead of the GST. NEW ZEALAND noted that her support for the light option depends on a timeline aligning with the GST.

LUXEMBOURG, FINLAND, and CANADA emphasized the importance of delivering an additional Special Report for the GST. CANADA urged starting the scoping process as soon as possible.

ITALY underscored the importance of integration across working groups and inclusion of a broader knowledge base, saying both are necessary for policy relevance. BOLIVIA called for decolonizing the science of the IPCC by recognizing different ontologies and accounting for rights-based approaches that do not involve trading on nature. SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS and GRENADA said strengthening the inclusion of underrepresented communities is essential.

FWCC said WGIII should advance necessary research on sustainable economics, as unsustainable systems remain “the elephant in the room.” Several delegates cited the need for shorter and more concise assessments.

On the SYR, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION and the US questioned the need for this element of past assessment reports. TÜRKIYE said the SYR could be a tool to force integration across the WGs. SWEDEN indicated that if an SYR is to be included, it should have significant added value in comparison with the WG and Special Reports. WGII Vice-Chair Fatima Denton underscored the importance of the SYR if it is planned with a forward-looking mindset.

INDIA and SAUDI ARABIA opposed changes to the SYR timeline.

On a second Special Report, SOUTH AFRICA, IRAN, PHILIPPINES, IRAQ, and KENYA supported focusing on adaptation. IRAN suggested such a report should consider water resource management.

SWEDEN proposed covering how to enable the transition to reach the 1.5°C goal and the positive effects of such a transition.

ARGENTINA, SPAIN, and CAN EUROPE supported focusing on tipping points. URUGUAY, TANZANIA and others supported a Special Report on tipping points including loss and damage. SURINAME supported combining tipping points, adaptation, and loss and damage. NIGER, LIBYA, GUINEA, and the PHILIPPINES supported focusing on loss and damage. PAKISTAN said loss and damage should be integrated into the cycle. VENEZUELA proposed focusing on loss and damage and the SDGs. CUBA, ALGERIA, and BELGIUM supported a Special Report on climate change and sustainable development. SAUDI ARABIA and MOROCCO called for work on adaptation, addressing, inter alia, the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) and loss and damage. The UK suggested focusing on solutions integrating mitigation and adaptation.

LUXEMBOURG supported a Special Report on “Reversible and irreversible climate change impacts and how to avoid and respond to tipping points” or “Exceeding a warming level and returning.” The NETHERLANDS and DENMARK also supported a second Special Report on overshoot, tipping points and related risks for adaptation and consequences for mitigation, including loss and damage, to be completed by all three WGs and ready by 2027 to serve as input to the GST. UKRAINE suggested grouping topics around the theme “risks to climate resilient development,” focusing on, among other things, shock events.

TANZANIA supported a Special Report on climate change and health, focused on non-communicable diseases. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION suggested focusing on a view of Earth’s climate system from space, and/or, with SPAIN, on climate change and biodiversity. WGII Vice-Chair Raman Sukumar reminded delegates of the joint work undertaken by IPBES and IPCC on the interlinkages of climate change and biodiversity.

GUATEMALA called for a special report covering Indigenous Knowledge, citing the difficulty of including the wealth of Indigenous Knowledge in the usual structure of IPCC reports. The importance of including Indigenous Knowledge was also stressed by BURUNDI, LIBYA, NEW ZEALAND, and ICC, with ICC suggesting Indigenous Peoples should not only be viewed as a vulnerable group but as valuable partners.

The US stressed that the decision to produce an additional Special Report should be based on scientific merit and noted that the topics proposed thus far could be covered in the WG reports. He also said the Special Report on Climate Change and Cities should not be underestimated as an input to the second GST-2, given its coverage of mitigation and adaptation at the local scale. 

On methodology reports and other IPCC products in the AR7 cycle, CHILE, VENEZUELA, and ARGENTINA called for a report on adaptation metrics.

SOUTH AFRICA highlighted the UNFCCC’s invitation to consider updating IPCC’s 1994 Technical Guidelines for assessing climate change impacts and adaptation. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION expressed concern about significant uncertainties in anthropogenic land-based fluxes of GHGs and called for revisiting methodologies and refining the 2006 and 2019 guidelines, with the TFI working in close cooperation with WGs I and III.

The NETHERLANDS, GERMANY, DENMARK, the UK, and PAKISTAN proposed a methodology report on guidelines for carbon removal or negative emissions, especially for reporting under the UNFCCC, possibly starting with an expert meeting. The US suggested it would be difficult for the TFI to produce such methodological work but agreed an expert meeting would be appropriate. The NETHERLANDS also suggested an expert meeting on guidelines on adaptation and, supported by BELGIUM, a workshop on adaptation connecting climate change and biodiversity. The REPUBLIC OF CONGO highlighted the importance of nature-based solutions and called for updating guidelines on wetlands.

AUSTRALIA, ARGENTINA, and LIBYA supported the format of expert meetings.

On the timeline of the AR7 cycle, LUXEMBOURG, GERMANY, ITALY, the US, and others suggested finalizing the cycle in 2029. Some noted this would allow AR7 to inform discussions on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, preparations of NDCs, and updates for GST-3.

CANADA, supported by SWEDEN, called for planning for AR8 at an early stage. SWEDEN suggested starting a third Special Report at the end of AR7.

The US and BAHAMAS questioned the appropriateness of a seven-year cycle given the urgency to act on climate change, and said missing the deadline to provide input to the GST would reduce the influence of IPCC reports. They supported a shorter cycle and, with BELGIUM and others, consideration of inputs also to GST-3. GERMANY called for input in 2027 that focuses on issues of relevance to GST-2.

INDIA and SAUDI ARABIA underscored the different processes and principles that govern the work of the IPCC and UNFCCC and opposed continued discussions on input to the GST. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION stressed the importance of a concrete request from the UNFCCC.

Noting a strong degree of convergence among Members to produce three WG reports in AR7, preference for the classical approach by nearly all countries, and a lack of agreement on the topic for an additional Special Report, Chair Skea suggested establishing a contact group for further deliberations, to be co-chaired by Frank McGovern (Ireland) and Cheryl Jeffers (Saint Kitts and Nevis). Deputy Secretary Fida presented modalities for a contact group with a proposed mandate to reach consensus on the structure and timeline of AR7 and, in particular, on the topics of a Special Report and a Methodology Report.

SAUDI ARABIA expressed concern about presenting the future IPCC work programme as a binary choice between a “so-called” light and classical options, and cautioned against predetermining the number of Special Reports in the mandate of the contact group. INDIA, supported by BRAZIL, ALGERIA, and SWITZERLAND, proposed a mandate focusing on the number and topics for Special Reports, as well as the timeline for the seventh assessment cycle. BOLIVIA suggested adding consideration of how to include Indigenous Knowledge and epistemologies in a cross-cutting manner.

After a short break for informal consultations, Chair Skea proposed, and delegates agreed to, an amended mandate that works towards consensus on: topics that could be covered in the format of a Special Report; topics that could be covered using the format of a Methodology Report; and timelines for the AR7 cycle.

On Thursday, contact group Co-Chair McGovern reported on the group’s progress, saying there “is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, but it is still a very long tunnel.” On a possible Special Report, he noted that while the spectrum of topics is broad, there was an attempt to identify a heading that could bind several proposals together. He added that some governments preferred no additional Special Report in the seventh assessment cycle.

The contact group reconvened on Thursday evening and met for several hours on Friday morning. When plenary resumed, contact group Co-Chair Jeffers reported that discussions reflected convergence in many areas, with “sticking points” including the duration of the cycle and set of products. Chair Skea observed that the major issue to be settled is whether a second Special Report should be undertaken during AR7 and, if yes, on which topic. Noting a trend in the group’s discussions toward adaptation, he invited views on whether there was consensus for a second Special Report on themes related to adaptation, including adaptation metrics.

BELGIUM, NIGER, AZERBAIJAN, CUBA, ARGENTINA, URUGUAY, and others favored having a second Special Report in AR7. NIGER and IRAN called for highlighting adaptation and loss and damage.

The US and CHINA preferred not having a second Special Report in AR7, saying the best way forward would be a comprehensive assessment of adaptation in the WGII report. The US signaled openness to addressing adaptation issues through other means. JAPAN supported including special topics in the scoping of the WG reports.

INDIA, supported by SAUDI ARABIA, proposed updating the 1994 IPCC Technical Guidelines for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Adaptations, and covering indicators and metrics on both adaptation and loss and damage. KENYA, SOUTH AFRICA, AZERBAIJAN, CHILE, BRAZIL, ARGENTINA, and URUGUAY acknowledged this as a good compromise, given the lack of consensus for a Special Report.

The RUSSIAN FEDERATION, supported by CUBA, suggested broadening the topic of a second Special Report, proposing a framing such as climate change and the SDGs. BELGIUM, supported by TÜRKIYE, proposed the topic “adaptation and mitigation in light of the SDGs.”

The US expressed concern about jeopardizing the WG report timelines with a second Special Report and proposed that updating the 1994 Guidelines could be combined with the Special Report on Climate Change and Cities, thus allowing WG reports to be released by 2028. EGYPT and INDIA stressed that AR7 should end in 2029-2030. CANADA supported delivering three WG reports in early 2028, and indicated flexibility to update the 1994 Guidelines. KENYA, supported by NIGER, ALGERIA, EGYPT, and SAUDI ARABIA, favored producing a Technical Paper based on AR6 literature before GST-2, saying it could be updated in the full WG report. The US said a Technical Paper on adaptation would delay delivery of the WGII report until after 2028, and that only having outputs from WGI and WGIII for GST-2 would be unacceptable.

Observing a lack of consensus on a Special Report focusing solely on adaptation, Chair Skea invited views on whether broadening the topic constitutes a way forward.

Most Members expressed openness to an expanded second Special Report to be prepared in time for GST-2. Some expressed skepticism that it would be possible to easily agree on a workable outline, with SAUDI ARABIA, the US, CHILE and others cautioning against replicating the WG reports and potentially overloading WGII.

Many governments, including SWEDEN, JAPAN, SWITZERLAND, NORWAY, GERMANY, FINLAND, NORWAY, the NETHERLANDS, HAITI and others, preferred having three WG reports if they were to be ready by 2028. NIGER suggested consulting the WG Co-Chairs on which product would be best for addressing adaption.

As a possible alternative to a Special Report on adaptation, SOUTH AFRICA, INDIA, ZIMBABWE, MOROCCO, CHINA, and KENYA supported an update of the 1994 Guidelines on adaptation to be prepared as a stand-alone product, to be completed in 2027.

WGII Co-Chair Winston Chow clarified that, given work on the Special Report on Climate Change and Cities, WGII would find it “very, very difficult, if not impossible” to do a second Special Report on adaptation. He added that an update to the guidelines in the form of a Technical Paper could be undertaken based only on the AR6. He said it would be possible to update this paper by including it in the WGII report, which would allow for inclusion of more recent literature.

WGII Co-Chair Bart van den Hurk confirmed if they were to produce an update of the guidelines before 2028, it would be better to integrate it in WGII.

INDIA, supported by EGYPT, insisted on consideration of a cycle concluding in 2029-2030. PAKISTAN supported a long cycle with a separate Technical Paper focusing on adaptation and loss and damage, underscored by clear metrics and indicators.

The NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM, LUXEMBOURG, and GERMANY regretted the lack of consensus on a Special Report. GERMANY underscored the WG Co-Chairs’ assurance that they would be able to produce the WG reports by mid-2028, and expressed surprise at the ongoing opposition of some governments to responding to the UNFCCC’s invitation to provide input into GST-2.

LUXEMBOURG, with BELGIUM, ITALY, BELIZE, and NEW ZEALAND, underscored the importance of having input from all three WGs feed into GST-2 in 2028, including a full report on adaptation, and supported including adaptation metrics in the WGII Report. 

SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS, supported by the NETHERLANDS, NORWAY, BELGIUM, ITALY, DENMARK, UNITED KINGDOM, and BELIZE, preferred updating the 1994 Guidelines in the WGII Report, with the most up-to-date literature annexed to the WGII Report.

The RUSSIAN FEDERATION opposed an annex, saying it is not correct, and favored the format of a Technical Paper. SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS said it would be problematic to produce a Technical Paper with few authors that is not approved by the Panel. Saying “there is no room for error” in the short timeline, CHILE suggested producing the Technical Paper as a fallback for delivery to GST-2.

Noting that the GST has a three-stage process, KENYA said that to be meaningful, a product should be ready by 2027, not 2028. At the request of Chair Skea, the UNFCCC Secretariat outlined the GST process, noting that parties have called for submissions of lessons learned and agreed to support any revisions of procedures and modalities for GST-2. She further explained that GST-2 will begin in 2026, parties and stakeholders will consider technical inputs starting in 2027 and, with current provisions, ideally input would be received prior to June 2028, but anything published prior to November 2028 could be considered.

INDIA underscored that scientific results coming after mid-2028 would be unlikely to feed into the potential GST-2 decision.

SAUDI ARABIA opposed the shorter timeline, saying this would lead to compromised WG reports both in content and inclusivity, and said a Technical Paper on adaptation is essential. The US noted that the longer timeline would allow for more products over the cycle, but said in that scenario the focus would need to be on mitigation as well as adaptation, as mitigation is central to many international discussions of pathways to net zero by 2050.

SWITZERLAND, supported by SWEDEN, emphasized that the WG Co-Chairs had given delegates a clear understanding that all three WG reports could be delivered by 2028 and indicated that it would be best to incorporate adaptation metrics into the WGII Report. SWEDEN expressed concern that publishing a separate Technical Paper prior to the WGII report could cause confusion in the policy arena. 

Emphasizing the need for information about how to “keep 1.5° alive,” DENMARK underscored the need to have a balanced and comprehensive assessment ready for 2028. He said one path would be three assessment reports with a WGII report including elements on adaptation, and the other would be a Special Report before 2028 covering adaptation and mitigation.

On options for addressing adaptation in an additional product, Chair Skea reminded delegates of the two options presented by the WGII Co-Chairs, with Option 1 embedding the updated 1994 Guidelines in the WGII Report, and Option 2 producing a Technical Paper based on the information from AR6. He noted advantages of each option with Option 1 containing the latest scientific information on adaptation and Option 2 hedging against delay. The WGII Co-Chairs preferred Option 1.

GRENADA, UKRAINE, BELGIUM, and the EU also favored Option 1, with UKRAINE and BELGIUM pointing to the lack of quantitative data on adaptation to be included in a Technical Paper.

INDIA flagged their preference for a longer timeline, urging the Chair to not predetermine 2028 as end point for AR7. KENYA said “a shorter cycle is not an option,” and called for a distinct product that would feed into the GST. SOUTH AFRICA called for planning AR7 with the possibility for delays, noting that running a shorter cycle would leave no margin for error. The EU opined a shorter cycle “can be done in good condition and quality.”

Chair Skea suggested a huddle with the mandate to come back to plenary with a recommendation on which of the presented options for dealing with adaptation to choose. Following the huddle, which was facilitated by Canada and IPCC Vice-Chair Chang’a, Canada reported that consensus had not been achieved.

On updating the 1994 Guidelines on adaptation, Chair Skea recalled that the original 1994 Guidelines had been given a separate presentation and identity, even though they were part of the IPCC Special Report to UNFCCC COP 1. He suggested giving this same treatment to the update of the 1994 Guidelines requested by INDIA, SAUDI ARABIA, KENYA and others, as a way to signal the importance of work on adaptation while not jeopardizing the completion of the WGII report by 2028. Chair Skea further noted that, if it were produced as part of the WGII report, the update to the 1994 Guidelines would undergo a more rigorous review and benefit from the most recent literature, while presenting a distinctive product to the world.

LUXEMBOURG confirmed the approach to be completely in line with IPCC procedures. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION remarked that it would be strange to have a methodological report attached to an assessment report. CANADA pointed to the AR6 WGI Atlas as a precedent.

Many countries welcomed the proposal. KENYA and CHAD supported the revised guidelines as a distinct product with its own Digital Object Identifier (DOI). CHAD emphasized the importance of the guidelines feeding to the GST, possibly linked to loss and damage. SAUDI ARABIA said that the concern should be the robustness of the report and keeping to policies and procedures and not the GST.

INDIA welcomed the suggestion but proposed to release the update earlier than the WGII report, with a separate approval process.

WGII Co-Chair van den Hurk clarified that the production process would be the same as the WGII report, only making the product more visible by giving it a separate identity afterwards. He added that if it were to require an earlier delivery and therefore a separate workflow, this would present a significantly larger burden on WGII and a delay in the release of the WGII report. The US said he would not accept separate approval processes for the 1994 Guidelines and the WGII Report.

FRANCE and SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS supported the Chair’s proposal. Observing some convergence around the idea of distinctive products, both embedded in the production process of the WGII Report, Chair Skea suggested moving on to working on the draft decision.

SAUDI ARABIA opposed the Chair’s proposal, citing numerous open questions, especially on the timeline. INDIA insisted on separating the timelines and approval processes for the update of the 1994 Guidelines and the WGII report. Chair Skea suggested moving forward by reflecting the state of discussions in draft text for a decision.

BOLIVIA urged integrating Indigenous Peoples’ epistemologies and knowledge systems, noting this requires time, and arguing for separate timelines for the update of the 1994 Guidelines, which would be released in time for GST-2 and the GGA process, and the WGII Report, which could comprehensively include Indigenous Knowledge. In response, Chair Skea suggested, and IPCC Vice-Chair Ürge-Vorsatz supported, holding an expert workshop with the purpose of enhancing inclusivity. BOLIVIA called for specific wording on this matter in the draft decision, suggesting the Panel agree to “comprehensively integrate Indigenous Knowledge.”

On Friday evening around 10:00 pm, Chair Skea introduced a draft decision, saying the Panel would take comments and revise the decision as many times as needed to reach consensus.

In a first round of comments on the draft decision on the Programme of Work, the NETHERLANDS called for setting dates for Working Group contributions in the first half of 2028.

In a paragraph on Members’ views on products for the AR7 cycle, UKRAINE suggested identifying products that were not accommodated in this cycle and could be proposed for AR8.

In text on a distinct product revising the 1994 IPCC Technical Guidelines on impacts and adaptation, CHAD requested the addition of a reference to loss and damage.

SAUDI ARABIA, supported by EGYPT, requested, inter alia: deleting references to the invitation from the UNFCCC to consider how best to align with GST-2; putting references to SLCF and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) in different paragraphs; retaining language on CDR, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS); changing “IPCC agreed” to “IPCC strives” to produce a comprehensive assessment report; and adding “in the following order” to the list of WG reports.

DENMARK supported maintaining the timelines for 2028 and, supported by CHILE and the UK, opposed specifying a sequence for the release of reports. CHILE emphasized the importance of maximizing the information available for GST-2.

On text indicating that COP 28 requests further scientific input from the IPCC, SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS strongly recommended adding language indicating the IPCC accepts the request. For clarity, LUXEMBOURG noted that the UNFCCC extended an “invitation,” not a “request” to the IPCC.

CHINA said his country’s scientists need time to finish several scientific research projects and required the timeline for the Special Report on Climate Change and Cities to be changed from 2027 to 2028, and, supported by BOLIVIA, the WGII and WGIII reports to conclude not before 2029. He emphasized that AR7 aims to be inclusive and developing country scientists should be given time to make their contributions. INDIA questioned the feasibility of the stated 2027 timeline for the Special Report on Climate Change and Cities, noting this is overly ambitious.

On the timing of WG reports, WGII Co-Chair van den Hurk preferred not to add more specific timings to 2028. LUXEMBOURG suggested amending the text to indicate WG reports could be delivered earlier, but at the latest in 2028. INDIA and KENYA questioned the feasibility of delivering all three WG reports by 2028. JAPAN supported a timeline towards 2028, suggesting a reduction in the number of chapters for the WG reports.

BOLIVIA, supported by BRAZIL, called for holding a dedicated expert meeting and establishing a task group to address a historical imbalance of treatment of Indigenous Peoples in the IPCC.

The US indicated that if the cycle finishes in 2029, a paragraph could be added indicating that the TFI could develop a report on CDR, said it is important to clarify that the SYR would be produced in 2029, and said it could not support a timeline concluding in 2030.

SWITZERLAND, the UK, JAPAN, and AUSTRALIA also noted the SYR should be produced in 2029 rather than 2030.

On producing a revision of the 1994 IPCC Technical Guidelines, NORWAY, opposed by SAUDI ARABIA, said the revision should be part of the WGII Report. KENYA, supported by ARGENTINA, insisted on publishing the IPCC Technical Guidelines as a chapter, not as an annex, and suggested they should be “updated” instead of “revised.” KENYA emphasized the distinct character of the envisaged product and called for release in early 2028. NIGER voiced support for the draft decision text, noting “loss and damage” could be added.

On the methodological report on CDR, CCS and CCUS, LUXEMBOURG suggested aligning the timeline with the Methodological Report on SLCF.

SWITZERLAND proposed framing the expert meeting around carbon dioxide removal technologies instead of listing specific technologies. SAUDI ARABIA insisted on keeping the listed technologies.

INDIA sought clarification on how the Methodology Reports on SLCF and CDR fit together, noting the proposed text suggests to “develop them in conjunction.” CHAD questioned the feasibility of this proposal.

Takeshi Enoki, TFI Co-Chair, expressed concern with overlap of activities and requested time for the TFI to consult and develop a joint plan for the two Methodology Reports and to report back to the Panel at its next meeting.

SAUDI ARABIA suggested adding a paragraph highlighting adherence to IPCC’s rules and procedures, including on governance review.

Several hours later, following the first round of comments and a short break for revision of the draft decision, the plenary considered an updated version of the decision.

In a round of comments on the revised draft decision, UKRAINE suggested asking the TFI to consider holding an expert meeting on CDR technologies.

EGYPT expressed concern about language accepting invitations that included ways to align with GST-2. Saying this is a “blank check acceptance,” he could not accept concluding the cycle in 2028, and appreciated the addition of text stating that WG contributions will be developed in line with procedures for the preparation, review, acceptance, adoption, approval and publication of the IPCC reports.

On characterizing the relationship between the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, CHINA insisted a reference to “the” Paris Agreement be changed to “its” Paris Agreement. He disagreed with accepting the invitations arising from COP 28, insisted on changing the timeline for the Special Report on Cities from 2027 to 2028, and said it is not possible to accept that WGs II and III complete their contributions in 2028.

The RUSSIAN FEDERATION requested adding language indicating that the SYR will be completed in 2029-2030.

INDIA supported calls for adding “its” Paris Agreement, opposed accepting the invitations as this includes alignment of the IPCC’s work with the GST, supported producing an update of the 1994 Guidelines as a standalone document before 2028, and called for a 2029 timeline for the WG reports.

BRAZIL and ARGENTINA supported calls for “its” Paris Agreement and called for “local communities’ knowledge” to replace “local knowledge.”

On text related to the technical guidelines, KENYA, supported by CHAD, objected to the replacement of “approval” with “accepted” and called for specificity of the timeline to ensure this product will be ready for the GST. CHAD called for inclusion of loss and damage.

SAUDI ARABIA called for deletion of the reference to the Paris Agreement, said the invitation should be noted, and on text indicating that IPCC “decides” to produce a comprehensive Assessment Report, suggested replacing “decides” with “aspires.” He further called for completing the SYR in 2029 or 2030. 

IRELAND addressed several concerns cited in previous interventions, including suggesting deleting the paragraph referencing the Paris Agreement, which is redundant, and reiterating that 2028 is the best that can be achieved on the update of the 1994 Guidelines. 

Saying “its” is incorrect in characterizing the relationship between the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, the US, with the NETHERLANDS: supported deleting the paragraph referencing the Paris Agreement; said the issue of sequence will be discussed when a detailed timeline is available; opposed adding loss and damage to the text on the update of the 1994 Guidelines; said the Panel would need to consider the Guidelines for “acceptance” with the WGII report as there are no procedures for approval; and said 2029 or 2030 would not be consistent with a 2028 timeline for completing the WG reports.

SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS, supported by NORWAY and the NETHERLANDS, but opposed by EGYPT, suggested the timeline for the WG reports should be specified to be “as soon as possible in 2028.” Noting his preference for delivering WG reports “as soon as possible in 2028,” LUXEMBOURG indicated flexibility for compromise, saying he “fully trusts” the Co-Chairs on this matter.

On a paragraph assuring adherence to IPCC rules of procedure in the delivery of products in AR7, SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS and NORWAY noted this should be clear, and questioned the text’s usefulness.

GERMANY expressed disappointment with delegates pushing back timelines for the WG reports and indicated reservations on any delaying of dates.

Noting the heavy burden on government officials from developing countries in AR6, CHINA cautioned against doing work in AR7 “in a hurry” and emphasized “that completing the WG reports in 2028 is impossible.”

Chair Skea suggested a huddle on the draft text to resolve remaining issues, mainly relating to timelines, facilitated by Vice-Chair Chang’a.

Following the huddle, in the early morning hours on Saturday, Vice-Chair Chang’a reported that some progress had been made, but divergent views on the timeline remained. Expressing deep disappointment that the huddle did not achieve a positive outcome, and noting that time was growing short, Chair Skea asked if any delegates had a “magic” solution.

DENMARK offered three possible solutions, including “striving” for the WG reports to be ready in 2028; deciding the SYR would be available as early as possible in 2029, and not deciding on dates for the WG reports; or not listing dates for the reports and committing to a Special Report with balanced, to-be-determined content that would be ready in 2028. 

CHINA said he could not accept these efforts. He suggested agreeing to finish the SYR at the end of 2029 and deciding on WG timelines at the next session. EGYPT proposed providing reports in 2028 and 2029, while following the “established process of sequencing” the delivery of the WG reports. CANADA opposed listing a timeline explicitly beyond the GST and said the Panel should consider the reputational risk of not even trying to contribute to the GST.

CHINA said his last proposal would be to decide that  the SYR should be finished in 2029 and the timeline for the WG reports would be decided at the next session. CANADA expressed discomfort with reopening discussion of the timeline at the next session.

SAUDI ARABIA reiterated support for sequencing and said he could accept “striving to complete” the WG reports in 2028 and 2029 and the SYR in 2029-2030.

The US proposed a draft decision to, inter alia, list the products of the cycle, decide that the SYR would be delivered by 2029, and strive to deliver all WG contributions by 2028. CHINA said this proposal was not acceptable, as it would allow the WGs, rather than the Panel, to set the timelines.

INDIA introduced a joint proposal with CHINA and SAUDI ARABIA in which, inter alia, the Panel: decides to provide a comprehensive assessment report with three working group reports in a specific sequence (I, II, then III); requests the Bureau to prepare timelines and a strategic plan for the Panel’s consideration and approval; prepares an SYR in late 2029; and includes a “distinct product” updating the 1994 IPCC Technical Guidelines on impacts and adaptation.

Chair Skea observed that in both proposals, governments take on the timing of the reports; in the US proposal, governments make this decision based on the scoping meeting, while in the joint China, India and Saudi Arabia proposal the decision is based on input from the Bureau.

CANADA questioned the value of sequencing the WG reports and asked what was meant by “strategic plan.” INDIA said sequencing is established practice and the strategic plan refers to the broad sequence of timings for steps in the process (e.g., scoping and author selection).

Many, including DENMARK, GERMANY, UKRAINE, SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS, and the UK, indicated that while they did not care for either proposal, they slightly preferred the one from the US. Many cited concerns about sequencing and not delivering the WGIII report in time for GST-2.

Noting these concerns about sequencing, SAUDI ARABIA suggested adding “in accordance with established sequencing practices,” saying he wants to maintain practices built across the decades. ITALY and SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS noted that the sequence of AR5 and AR6 reports was WGI, III, and II.

Chair Skea asked delegates to consider which proposal they could build consensus around.

CHINA said he would not engage in further discussion of the US proposal, as he wanted to leave timeframes to the next session. The US said he could not agree to move only the timelines to the next session. 

Chair Skea warned he was close to concluding that, despite strenuous efforts made by delegations, the plenary had been unable to reach consensus, and the discussion would need to be deferred to a subsequent session.

The US offered to engage further with the joint proposal, saying he would need some indication of commitment to “striving” to deliver the WG reports in 2028. CHINA insisted the timetable could not be decided at this time.

BELGIUM supported the US adjustments to the joint proposal, and citing concern about fixed sequencing, suggested “striving to follow a sequence” as an alternative. NORWAY recommended following the IPCC’s rules and procedures, saying they explain how material from the scoping meeting is handled, and to deliberately leave out sequencing because this should not be preempted. GERMANY said he might be able to accept the proposal with amendments, called for compromise on sequencing, and said approving the strategic plan is not common practice. DENMARK described sequencing as “a thorn in my eye.”

INDIA said references to delivering “early” in 2028 and responding to the UNFCCC processes are impositions on a scientific process that must be allowed to play out at its own pace. KENYA said that, in the spirit of compromise, her delegation could accept deleting “early 2028” and replacing with “in time for the GST.” INDIA said he could not accept this.

The US noted that the IPCC approves the timeline and plan when it adopts the scoped outline for a report, but does not approve the strategic plan, and said he could not accept any text calling into question whether the reports would be delivered in 2028.

UKRAINE expressed disappointment with the proposal and called for working on the text between sessions.

Saying “this is a matter of great regret with reputational consequences for the IPCC,” Chair Skea declared that the IPCC had been unable to agree on a Programme of Work at IPCC-60.

A last-minute attempt at consensus was made, with Vice-Chair Chang’a requesting a few more minutes to consult informally. Delegates gathered again in a huddle, which eventually yielded a revised draft decision. On Saturday morning around 9:00 am, the Panel approved the draft with minor editorial changes.

Final Decision: In its decision (IPCC-LX-9), the Panel, inter alia:

  • considers the invitations from Decisions 1/CMA5 para 184 (Global Stocktake) and 3/CMA.4, paragraph 21 (GGA);
  • confirms the production of a Special Report on Climate Change and Cities in early 2027 and a Methodology Report on Short-lived Climate Forcers by 2027;
  • agrees the TFI will hold an Expert Meeting on Carbon Dioxide Removal Technologies, Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage, and provide a Methodology Report on these by the end of 2027;
  • decides that during the Seventh Assessment Cycle the IPCC will provide a comprehensive Assessment Report consisting of three WG contributions in the following sequence, unless the Panel decides otherwise: WG I – The Physical Science Basis; WG II – Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability; and WG III – Mitigation of Climate Change
  • states that a SYR will be produced by late 2029, after the completion of Working Group reports;
  • agrees a distinct product revising and updating the 1994 IPCC Technical Guidelines on impacts and adaptation, including adaptation indicators, metrics and methodologies will be scoped, developed, reviewed and should be considered for approval and acceptance in conjunction with the WG II Report and will be published as a separate product; and
  • requests the Bureau to prepare a document outlining the month and year of delivery on the basis of an AR7 strategic plan, taking into account the different views expressed at IPCC-60 and in reference to the UNFCCC invitations related to the GST and Global Goal on Adaptation, for the delivery of these reports in a timely and policy relevant manner, and to present it to the Panel at its next meeting for consideration.

Matters Related to Other IPCC Activities

Informal Group on Publications and Translations: On Tuesday, Secretary Mokssit introduced a document produced by an Informal Group on Publications (IPCC-LX/Doc. 10) and highlighted the two main suggestions: to establish a Publications Committee and to appoint Science Editors to ensure scientifically robust translations of IPCC reports. Chair Skea said while establishing the Publications Committee would not have any budgetary implications, appointing Science Editors would require consideration by the FiTT.

Many members expressed support for the proposed Publications Committee, with FRANCE calling for its rapid establishment. GERMANY and LUXEMBOURG cautioned against too ambitious timelines for translations to avoid compromising their quality. SAUDI ARABIA expressed concern about re-drawing and re-formatting figures and tables. Supported by INDIA, he requested clarification on the Committee’s role in error correction. BELGIUM, SWITZERLAND, GUATEMALA, and IRAN suggested potential tasks for the Committee, including work on the copyright policy; DOI of IPCC publications; and correct translation of geographical names.

Responding to a call for a process to develop Terms of Reference (ToR), voiced by the US and supported by INDIA, Chair Skea suggested establishing the Publications Committee subject to development of its ToR. INDIA, supported by the US, BRAZIL and SAUDI ARABIA, rejected approving the establishment of a committee without its ToR. Delegates agreed to invite the Bureau to develop ToR for a future Publications Committee and consider its establishment at its next session.

IPCC Scholarship Programme: Mxolisi Shongwe, IPCC Secretariat, presented the report (IPCC-LX/Doc. 9, Rev. 1, Corr. 1), noting that, of 209 applicants, 25 had been selected for scholarships. He also introduced the candidates nominated for the Board of Trustees of the IPCC Scholarship Programme to serve a four-year term, as follows: Laura Butler (Canada); Alberto Graña (Uruguay), Isabelle Ramdoo (Mauritius), and Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (Belgium). The Panel took note of the report and appointed the new Board of Trustees, with van Ypersele as Chair. Thanking the Panel, van Ypersele stated his commitment to implement a fundraising strategy to maintain and extend the Scholarship Programme.

Task Group on Data Support for Climate Change Assessments (TG-Data): On Tuesday, TG-Data Co-Chair David Huard presented an overview of the group’s work (IPCC_LX/Doc. 11), saying it: provides guidance to the IPCC Data Distribution Center (DDC) to provide curation, transparency, traceability, and stability of data and scenarios related to IPCC reports; facilitates the availability and consistent use of climate change-related data and scenarios; and facilitates the use of climate-related data resulting from IPCC activities. He said “generous funds” received from governments and foundations could be used to finalize work from the AR6 cycle, and DDC activities should be included in the AR7 cycle budget. TG-Data Co-Chair Sebastian Vicuña outlined outreach events and a proposed expert meeting to discuss the use of probabilistic climate risk assessments in adaptation decisions.

The RUSSIAN FEDERATION queried whether the mandate of TG-Data is to focus on risk assessment.

The US expressed concern about opening a budget line for funding for TG-Data and suggested this be discussed by the FiTT. INDIA concurred that it is difficult to discuss funding in the abstract and said the scope of activities should be discussed before funding can be agreed.

The NETHERLANDS emphasized that TG-Data’s mandate is archiving data for the “interchange of working groups and the outside world,” said it could be expanded to include expert meetings, and supported discussing funding first and then TG-Data’s mandate.

Expressing concerns about the eligibility of non-state actors to provide funds to support IPCC activities, GERMANY cited the need for a process or mechanism for allocating funds that would “not open the door to everyone.” SWITZERLAND called for discussion of TG-Data’s mandate and end-user outputs and, supported by the UK, called for safeguards on financial support from non-governmental entities.

ITALY called for greater ambition in making reports more transparent, accessible and reproducible and said implementing TG-Data’s mandate during the sixth assessment cycle was a strain. PAKISTAN underscored that ensuring seamless data access is crucial and said establishing partnerships with international partners and engaging private sector sponsors will bolster DDC’s capacity.

TG-Data Co-Chair Huard said the budget would support the DDC, rather than TG-Data, and emphasized the urgency of funding at least a skeleton service for the next year.

On funding sources, the Legal Officer clarified that the framework of IPCC’s principles and procedures allows for cash and other in-kind contributions to the IPCC Trust Fund, and due diligence procedures to determine the suitability of funding are followed in line with WMO rules and regulations. The Legal Officer further explained that funding is open, and TG-Data is seeking funding from “any and all” sources.

Chair Skea proposed that FiTT consider funding bids within the current mandate of TG-Data and said further discussion of the proposed expert group meeting would be deferred.

IPCC Workshop on the IPCC Inventory Software: Takeshi Enoki, TFI Co-Chair, presented a proposal to hold a technical training workshop on the IPCC Inventory Software, following an invitation from the UNFCCC (IPCC-LX/Doc. 5). Enoki explained that the workshop would demonstrate the IPCC Inventory Software and its interoperability functions, which allow it to feed into the UNFCCC reporting tools. He added that: the purpose was to showcase the IPCC’s new software rather than build capacity; the workshop would take place in the second half of 2024; and UNFCCC would be invited to support the workshop.

GERMANY and the US supported the event but expressed concern about setting a precedent, saying the IPCC does not provide capacity building or training. They emphasized this should be a one-off event as it would imply costs that cannot be borne. The US also suggested: further discussion with the UNFCCC and others on fundraising and defraying the cost so it does not come from IPCC Trust Fund; holding the workshop earlier in 2024, possibly around the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies meetings; and have documentation from the workshop include recorded presentations to be made available for use as tools. JAPAN expressed continued support for TFI work and emphasized that UNFCCC cooperation is essential. IRELAND and NORWAY welcomed the report and expressed trust that concerns could be addressed to ensure the integrity of IPCC and UNFCCC processes.

SOUTH AFRICA, supported by INDIA, SAUDI ARABIA, IRAN, IRAQ, and others, underscored the critical importance of the workshop for developing countries, given the requirement to report by the end of 2024 to the UNFCCC under the Enhanced Transparency Framework, and the fact that they have no national reporting systems. They also called for the workshop to include hands-on capacity building for practitioners, and to find ways to provide technical support.

AZERBAIJAN called for an in-person workshop. GUATEMALA supported an online format that would allow more flexible access.

UNFCCC recognized IPCC’s resource constraints and expressed interest in co-organizing the workshop in Bonn and fundraising for it.

Further consultations were conducted in a huddle, including GERMANY, SAUDI ARABIA and the TFI, to address format and other details pertaining to the UNFCCC invitation and the Co-Chair’s proposal.

On Thursday afternoon, GERMANY reported that a draft decision on this matter was being finalized and financial considerations had been forwarded to the FiTT.

The Panel approved the proposal from the TFI Co-Chairs to accept the UNFCCC invitation and hold the workshop on the IPCC Inventory Software in 2024 (see paragraph 18 of Decision IPCC-LX-10).

Report of the IPCC Conflict of Interest Committee

On Thursday, IPCC Vice-Chair Ladislaus Chang’a reported on the activity of the Conflict of Interest (COI) Committee, noting that it met for the first time during the seventh assessment cycle on 15-16 January 2024 to discuss guidance to be provided to the Bureau on ethics and actual and perceived conflicts of interest. He outlined the Committee’s work to update the COI disclosure form.

Chair Skea informed delegates that any proposed changes will need to be approved by the Panel. The IPCC took note of the report.

On Saturday morning, the Panel decided to set up a sub-committee of the COI Committee with the mandate to review the COI disclosure form (Decision IPCC-LX- 8).

Progress Reports

Update from Working Group I: Robert Vautard, WGI Co-Chair, presented the progress report (IPCC-LX/INF. 2). He reported agreement among the WGI Co-Chairs that there will be one TSU, hosted at the Université Paris-Saclay in France, and that China would provide additional staff as in-kind support as needed. He also noted progress in the establishment of the TSU, with the head of the TSU already hired, and active WG and TSU cross-collaboration. The IPCC took note of this report.

Update from Working Group II: Winston Chow, WGII Co-Chair, presented on activities since the last meeting (IPCC-LX/INF. 10). He reported that the WGII TSU would be co-located in Singapore and the Netherlands, hosted by the Singapore Management University in Singapore, and Deltares in Delft. He added that the head of TSU had been hired, and that the scoping meeting on the Special Report on Cities would be held in April 2024 in Riga, Latvia, to be considered by the Panel later this year. The IPCC took note of this report.

Update from Working Group III: Joy Jacqueline Pereira, WGIII Co-Chair, presented the progress report (IPCC-LX/INF. 3). She reported that the WGIII TSU will be distributed, with nodes based at the US Global Change Research Program in Washington, DC and at partner entities and co-located at the Universiti Kebangsaan in Malaysia. Pereira said the head of the TSU was already contributing, and further elaborated on, inter alia, activities related to COP 28 and cross-WG coordination. The IPCC took note of this report.

Update from the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Mazhar Hayat, TFI Co-Chair, presented the TFI Progress report (IPCC-LX/INF. 5). He outlined activities undertaken, including an expert meeting on the Use of Atmospheric Observation Data for Emission Inventories, and the scoping meeting for the Methodology Report on SLCFs. The IPCC took note of this report.

Gender Action Team: IPCC Vice-Chair Diana Ürge-Vorsatz reported on the Gender Action Team (IPCC-LX/INF. 11), noting that the Team had been formed with her as Chair, and is gender-balanced. She highlighted work including: a code of conduct currently under review; an expert meeting on inclusivity in 2024; and training and guidance of the IPCC Gender Policy.

ALGERIA requested the addition of a member from Africa to the Team. FRANCE stressed the importance of including gender considerations in all the IPCC’s work. NEW ZEALAND called for including Indigenous Peoples. Ürge-Vorsatz confirmed all requests.

The Panel took note of the report.

Communication and outreach activities: Andrej Mahecic, Head of Communications and Media Relations, IPCC Secretariat, reported on these activities (IPCC-LX/INF. 4), noting, inter alia, an increase in social media presence and improved internal communications via an IPCC Newsletter. He highlighted that IPCC was a co-laureate, with IPBES, of the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity, which yielded half a million euros for the IPCC Scholarship Programme, and of the Council of Europe annual North-South Prize.

Many expressed appreciation for the communications and outreach work. BELGIUM suggested the IPCC products could be more user friendly on mobile phones and tablets and, supported by the NETHERLANDS, called for discussion of copyright policy. Mahecic said the communications team would explore options for making the resources more mobile phone friendly, and said discussion of copyright issues would require a broader conversation with IPCC leadership and legal experts. 

SAUDI ARABIA noted that the location of the 2023 Middle East and North Africa Climate Week, held in Riyadh, had not been reflected in the report and requested that this be corrected. Mahecic confirmed this change would be made.

IRAN underscored the importance of outreach events for developing countries and asked that their frequency be increased. ALGERIA encouraged the communications team to hold more outreach activities in African countries, noting they can spur the involvement of youth and scientists in the IPCC’s work.

INDIA lamented that the IPCC’s communications materials did not reflect concepts such as the carbon budget, equity, or climate justice, and called for concrete steps to address this in AR7. Mahecic said the language used in communications comes directly from reports. Noting that responsibility for the accuracy of communications rests with the IPCC’s scientific leadership, INDIA said he would like assurance of some means of redress before the Panel takes up the budget for communications. 

REPUBLIC OF CONGO queried whether the communications strategy considers the proportion of the global population with hearing or sight difficulties. He also called for improving the dissemination of IPCC materials in places like Central Africa, where many students and other stakeholders do not have access to the internet. Mahecic said the team will continue to explore options.

UKRAINE suggested calling for IPCC focal points to provide regular reports on IPCC materials in their own countries in order to provide outreach in more languages.

The IPCC took note of this report.

Matters Related to UNFCCC and Other International Bodies

On Thursday, Annett Moehner, UNFCCC Secretariat, presented a progress report (IPCC-LX/INF. 12) on collaboration between the IPCC and UNFCCC. She highlighted decisions taken at COP 28 of relevance to the work of the IPCC, including the decision inviting the IPCC to consider how best to align its work with the second and subsequent GSTs. She added that GST-2 will take place from November 2026 until the end of 2028, comprising three phases: information collection; technical assessment; and political considerations. For inclusion of IPCC reports in this process, she said the reports would ideally be made available before June 2028.

In a video message, COP 28 President Sultan Al Jaber highlighted the IPCC’s AR6 as critical factor for achieving unprecedented outcomes at COP 28, including on transitioning away from fossil fuels. He called for continuous integration of science across the entire climate agenda, emphasizing that “science is key to driving a collective response.”

AZERBAIJAN, on behalf of the incoming COP 29 Presidency, underscored the IPCC’s paramount importance in providing advice on global climate action. She highlighted Azerbaijan’s ambitions in transitioning to a green economy and voiced support for the IPCC Chair’s vision for AR7. Looking ahead to COP 29, she said new negotiations will be initiated on the mobilization of climate finance resources.

The Panel took note of the report.

IPBES Executive Secretary Anne Larigauderie presented a note on the outcomes of IPBES-10 and engagement of IPBES with the IPCC (IPCC-LX/INF. 8). She highlighted that climate change and biodiversity loss are interconnected, mutually reinforcing, and can only be solved together, a finding articulated in the workshop report on biodiversity and climate change co-sponsored by IPBES and the IPCC. She noted requests for engagement with the IPCC resulting from recent IPBES Plenary decisions, including for the IPBES Bureau to explore various formats of cooperation such as a liaison group and encouragement of IPBES national focal points to engage with their IPCC counterparts.

Chair Skea noted that IPCC Vice-Chair Ramón Pichs-Madruga has been assigned to function as the IPCC’s liaison with IPBES.

BELGIUM, LUXEMBOURG, FRANCE, NORWAY, TÜRKIYE, SWITZERLAND, SWEDEN, REPUBLIC OF CONGO, CHILE, CANADA, GERMANY, the NETHERLANDS, GRENADA, CHAD, FINLAND, UK, and JAPAN suggested fostering cooperation with IPBES, with some noting that cooperation avoids duplication and ensures more coherence between IPCC and IPBES assessments. The UK, SWITZERLAND, and NORWAY commended the IPCC Chair’s initiative to assign liaison roles with key external bodies.

SWITZERLAND called for discussion on how to engage with IPBES at IPCC-61. FRANCE suggested the IPCC Bureau could explore options for broader collaboration with IPBES. BELGIUM, FRANCE, NORWAY, the NETHERLANDS, and CHAD expressed interest in facilitating further workshops between IPCC and IPBES. GERMANY called for also engaging with other organizations to avoid working in silos, while cautioning against overburdening the IPCC process. The UK suggested looking at informal ways of collaborating with IPBES.

Stressing the different mandates and processes of the IPCC and IPBES, INDIA, ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, IRAQ, BOLIVIA, BURUNDI, SAUDI ARABIA, and WGI Vice-Chair Edvin Adrian urged caution, calling for a slow, step-by-step approach to collaboration. INDIA suggested leaving terms of engagement unspecified and supported an informal arrangement. BRAZIL also underscored that any cooperation should be fully transparent and inclusive. SAUDI ARABIA noted the IPCC has finite capacity and called for holding deliberations in a formal process at a later point.

While acknowledging differences between the bodies, the US recalled that the IPCC Bureau has a clear mandate in its terms of reference to engage with the wider scientific community and, with SWITZERLAND, supported greater collaboration at the technical and scientific level, ensuring communication flow, possibly with the help of focal points.

CANADA and BOLIVIA encouraged learning lessons from the IPBES approach to integrating Indigenous Knowledge. CHILE suggested exploring ways of collaborating with the future plastics treaty. CAN EUROPE supported strong exchange of information and drew attention to the establishment of an intergovernmental group on drought under the UNCCD.

IPCC Vice-Chair Ramón Pichs-Madruga recognized legitimate concerns on how to proceed but also the need, especially for authors, to interact and collaborate, while respecting the mandates of each institution. He referred to communication of events, reports, and incorporation of Indigenous Knowledge as areas to learn from one another.

Chair Skea underscored that the focal point role proposed for IPCC Vice-Chairs is informal and ad hoc. He pointed to overlapping scientific communities and complete alignment with the newly elected IPBES Chair in that they work within their own mandates, so any collaboration would take “a very soft approach.” As an example, he referred to a possible Glossary covering the different assessments, and noted other bodies beyond IPBES, such as those dealing with chemicals and waste, who also share common points of interest. Chair Skea proposed to bring up scientific aspects as areas of collaboration that could be addressed at a Bureau meeting.

The Panel took note of the report.

Any Other Business

On Friday, the Union of Concerned Scientists reported on the International Co-Sponsored Meeting on Culture, Heritage and Climate Change (IPCC-LX/INF. 13).

On Friday night, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION stated that IPCC rules and procedures on maintaining geographical representation in the production of IPCC reports have not been met. He referenced his government’s nomination of two experts to, and their subsequent rejection from, the IPCC Workshop on the Use of Scenarios in the Sixth Assessment Report and Subsequent Assessments, saying this was “a discriminatory action.” Chair Skea noted the high level of competition for IPCC authorship.

On methodological work, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION highlighted the need to maintain transparency regarding the origin of data used in IPCC reports, pointing to current internal work of authors on several topics, including on attribution studies. He called for producing unified methodological approaches, including on how to consistently handle uncertainties across WGs.

Place and Date for the 61st Plenary Session of the IPCC

On Saturday, Secretary Mokssit announced that IPCC-61 is expected to take place in summer 2024. He said the Secretariat will confirm the dates and location in the coming weeks. 

Closing of the Session

On Saturday morning, Chair Skea described IPCC-60 as one of the most intense meetings he had ever experienced and thanked all participants for their “extraordinary efforts.” He expressed great appreciation for the host country, Türkiye, and the work of the IPCC Secretariat. Chair Skea gaveled the session to a close at 9:44 am.

A Brief Analysis of IPCC-60

When exhausted delegates to the 60th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emerged from the plenary room on Saturday morning, even Istanbul’s famed cats had already left the venue. After deliberating for over 24 hours straight to reach consensus on the programme of work, IPCC members rescued the crucial first session of their seventh assessment cycle from the brink of failure. While veteran participants knew better than to expect an easy meeting, very few had predicted that consensus would be so difficult to achieve.

This brief analysis looks at IPCC-60 and the deliberations that led to the adoption of the programme of work, which sets out the plans for IPCC’s contributions to global efforts to combat climate change during the crucial years ahead. 

Striving for Policy Relevance

Since its establishment in 1988, comprehensive climate change assessment reports have formed the backbone of the IPCC’s outputs. Over 36 years, the IPCC has, step-by-step, provided greater certainty about the recent rise in global temperatures, unequivocally identified humans as the cause of this global warming, and outlined options for adaptation and mitigation. The messages of IPCC reports are increasingly clear: the goal to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C is disappearing from sight and adaptation limits are growing ever closer, especially in developing countries. In addition to providing information about the scope of the problem, the IPCC seeks to provide governments and stakeholders at all levels with policy relevant, but not policy prescriptive, science-based information they can use to take action.

The Panel’s willingness to respond to the needs of other bodies who draw on its work was tested at IPCC-60. The primary objective of this session was to agree on a plan for the IPCC’s new assessment cycle, and of foremost importance for many Panel members was how the timeline and outputs of their workplan would contribute to the policymaking process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) second global stocktake (GST), which will conclude in 2028. At its most recent meeting, the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) invited the IPCC to consider how best to align its work with GST-2 and subsequent stocktakes, which take place every five years. Since the same countries who issued the invitation respond to it in the IPCC, it would seem natural that the Panel would accept the invitation. But this was not to be.

In fact, the IPCC has been discussing for years how best to align its work with the GST. With cycles that last five to seven years and involve a complex array of work and collaboration among scientists and governments from all over the world, the IPCC has developed a robust but complicated process for delivering high quality outputs. Aligning this multi-stage work with the GST implies potential adjustments, including tightening the timeline for delivery of future reports.

This issue formed the crux of deliberations at IPCC-60. While most Panel Members broadly agreed on the need to ensure that a balanced set of scientific inputs, covering both mitigation and adaptation, would be available in time for GST-2 in 2028, a few countries strenuously objected. These governments maintained that the IPCC should not bend to the needs of other bodies, saying that doing so would compromise the integrity of the IPCC’s scientific assessment process. They drew attention to difficulties developing countries have in effectively participating in the assessment process and called for a longer timeline for delivery of some of the reports. However, a longer timeline would mean key inputs such as the contributions of Working Groups II (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability) and III (Mitigation of Climate Change) would not be finalized in time to feed into the GST.

Until late on the final day of the session, governments’ positions were converging towards having the three Working Group assessment reports completed by 2028, or at least “striving” to have them completed. Still, the small number of delegates who opposed this timeline held fast. The final decision makes no mention of a 2028 deadline for the assessment reports. Instead, it requests the IPCC Bureau to prepare a document outlining the month and year of delivery of the reports on the basis of a strategic plan, taking into account the different views expressed during IPCC-60, for consideration by IPCC-61. An oblique reference to the GST appears as something to be taken into account during Bureau deliberations.

On Flexibility and Determination

Delegates arrived in Istanbul with a vast range of ideas for the workplan for the seventh assessment cycle, and reaching convergence on a plan also took substantial time. Many delegates demonstrated a high degree of flexibility as they sought to reach consensus, and discussions often reflected rapidly changing views. Although delegates quickly reached informal agreement to maintain the traditional IPCC practice of producing three Working Group Assessment Reports and possibly a Synthesis Report, they considered different additional outputs, including special reports, expert meetings, workshops, and technical papers. Ideas for topics for possible special reports also varied widely. Many supported work on tipping points, adaptation, and loss and damage, reflecting efforts to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. Countries listened attentively to each other’s suggestions and adapted their initial views, demonstrating both flexibility and, in the end, determination to achieve consensus.

The session was also a test for the newly-elected Bureau and, in particular, Chair Jim Skea, who took the helm of IPCC for the first time. Chair Skea had already demonstrated his skill as a Chair during approval of the Special Report on limiting global warming to 1.5º C and the WGIII report for the sixth assessment cycle. Despite his many years of success in navigating contentious issues in previous leadership roles, his can-do spirit was sorely tried in Istanbul, as delegates sought to narrow a vast array of options into a shared vision and encountered some seemingly insurmountable differences along the way. Many delegates expressed admiration for his creative solution to a request by some developing countries to have early input on adaptation guidelines and metrics. This time sensitive and in-demand output needed to fit into the shorter assessment cycle without jeopardizing approval of the WGII report. Drawing on his long experience with the IPCC, Chair Skea resolved this impasse with a proposal to present the technical work on adaptation as a stand-alone product that was nonetheless part of a larger report. The Panel took this approach in the first IPCC report in 1994, to which Skea also contributed. The Panel, moreover, benefitted from the many contributions of the WG Co-Chairs and IPCC Vice-Chairs, who worked collaboratively to support delegates in their decision-making throughout the session.

Looking Ahead

At IPCC-61, delegates will have to revisit the timeline for the seventh assessment cycle, a prospect that some countries said they did not relish. However, when the Panel reconvenes, they should be able to draw on the strategic planning that the Bureau will carry out intersessionally. This is likely to provide some clarity on the implications of a shorter or longer cycle.

The next meeting is also expected to consider the outline of the Special Report on Climate Change and Cities, expected to be completed in 2027. The Task Force on Inventories will undertake methodological work on short-lived climate forcers and carbon dioxide removal technologies, also to be delivered in 2027.

The challenges IPCC-60 faced reflect the importance Members attach to the Panel’s work. The entrenched positions demonstrate that Members recognize IPCC’s significant influence on global action to combat climate change. On more than one occasion, participants emphasized the reputational risks to the IPCC of failing to deliver on its mandate to provide timely, policy-relevant inputs to decision-making. At its next meeting, the Panel will again be faced with the question of how it should carry out its mandate to the greatest effect, and what trade-offs it may be willing to make in the service of maximizing its strengths in contributing to science-based action.

Further information