With approval of the Synthesis Report from the sixth assessment cycle delayed until March 2023, many governments made “unusually blunt statements of discontent” concerning the IPCC’s impact and credibility.
Many emphasized that alignment with the UNFCCC global stocktake is imperative for the IPCC to stay relevant for global climate policy.
Delegates agreed that the next assessment cycle should last five to seven years starting July 2023, keeping the door open for the seventh assessment report to feed into the second GST in 2028.
Meeting against the backdrop of devastating floods in Pakistan and the wreckage left by Hurricane Ian in Cuba and the southern US, in person for the first time since COVID-19-related disruptions set in, delegates to the 57th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-57) addressed procedural matters. Participants focused on the need to prepare for a smooth transition to the next assessment cycle, including by identifying lessons learned from the challenges and successes of the current cycle.
The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN 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 does not undertake new research or monitor climate-related data. Instead, it conducts assessments of the state of climate change knowledge based on published, peer reviewed scientific and technical literature. The Panel’s reports are intended to be policy relevant but not policy prescriptive. They provide key inputs into international climate change negotiations.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary notes that IPCC-57 was the first meeting without a report to approve since March 2021. Approval of the Synthesis Report (SYR) from the sixth assessment cycle had been postponed from IPCC-57 until IPCC-58 in March 2023, resulting in “unusually blunt statements of discontent from governments” about the IPCC’s impact and credibility. Concerns expressed during the meeting ranged from a delayed SYR presenting now-obsolete findings – to its potentially imperiled alignment with the UNFCCC global stocktake (GST), which is intended to increase climate ambition. As per the ENB analysis, “[m]any delegates emphasized that alignment with the GST is imperative for the IPCC to stay relevant for global climate policy.”
Looking ahead, IPCC-57 agreed that the next assessment cycle should start in July 2023 and set its length to five to seven years, keeping the door open for the Seventh Assessment Report (AR7) to feed into the second GST in 2028. The meeting also decided to hold elections in July 2023, providing an end date for the sixth cycle, including for the tenure of the current Bureau, and a clear start date for the incoming Chair and Bureau. The current Vice-Chairs and other Bureau members “raised their voices in favor of bold reforms to the IPCC organizational structure and work programme, including to the siloed Working Groups, and for the creation of new products and activities that would allow the Panel to stay relevant,” the ENB writes.
IPCC-57 convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 27-30 September 2022. The next meeting of the IPCC is expected to approve the SYR and complete the sixth assessment cycle. [ENB Coverage of IPCC-57] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on IPCC-56 Approval of Working Group III Report on Mitigation] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on IPCC-55 Approval of Working Group II Report on Adaptation] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on IPCC-54 Approval of Working Group I Report on Physical Science]