Following extensive negotiations and 45 rounds of voting, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has elected a new IPCC Bureau, including IPCC Chair, and a new Bureau for the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventories (TFI). The outcomes of the elections, which take place roughly once every seven years, will shape the Panel’s work to provide clear scientific input to support global climate action and to address the IPCC’s organizational challenges, including to improve gender parity and inclusiveness.

According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary report of the IPCC’s 59th session (IPCC-59), many delegates “enthusiastically” welcomed the election of Jim Skea (UK) as IPCC Chair, reflecting “a widely held desire for the upcoming assessment cycle to work quickly” to support the UNFCCC’s global Stocktake. Skea, ENB notes, “is known as an efficient and engaging consensus-builder who values transparency.” In his campaign, he also provided specific ideas to enhance inclusiveness and gender parity in the IPCC’s work.

ENB reports that while procedurally straightforward, “the rules designed to ensure regional balance meant that each round [of the elections] could change the slate of candidates for subsequent rounds.” In an effort to ensure effective representation of their interests on the Bureau, countries “nominated and re-nominated candidates.” Regional consultations to try to reach consensus on nominations and voting using paper ballots took substantial time. As a result, the meeting ran well overtime, which, “has been a pattern at recent IPCC meetings.” This, the ENB analysis of the meeting explains, led to “the exclusion of delegates who had to catch their flights before the elections concluded,” with the number of voters dropping “from over 150 to a nadir of 84.”

In addition to the perceived lack of inclusiveness, IPCC-59 reflected another one of the Panel’s longstanding problems – that of low gender parity. ENB underscores that “women made up only 38% of candidates who received advance nominations” for IPCC and Task Force Bureau positions. This inequity will persist “until governments nominate more women for leadership positions,” it notes.

IPCC-59 convened in Nairobi, Kenya, from 25-18 July 2023. Attended by 600 participants from 170 governments, this session represents a 40% increase in delegates compared to the last round of IPCC elections in 2015. [ENB Coverage of IPCC-59]