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N°32 I quarterly I January 2014 Focus | 21 w IPCC in Four Questions what is the IPCC? Founded under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988, and open to all UN member states, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change consists of a Plenary Assembly of representatives from government and the scientific community. Its mission is to compile periodic collective scientific assessments of climate change. Based in Geneva (Switzerland), it is supported by a central secretariat of 12 people. “The IPCC operates with its own annual budget of about €6 million, which covers the travel expenses of researchers from developing countries, the central secretariat, and the publication of the reports,” explains Nicolas Bériot. The administrative services for the Panel’s three working groups are financed by three host countries—Switzerland, the US, and Germany in the case of the AR5. The IPCC Bureau is made up of 30 scientists elected by the government delegations. who writes the reports? Some 830 researchers from 85 countries drafted the AR5 (34 are based in France). At the beginning of each report cycle, the Bureau draws up a table of contents and, from a list of candidates provided by member states, assigns specific authors to the three working groups. Group I focuses on the science of climate change, Group II on its impact and adaptive solutions, and Group III on the fight against global warming. “The IPCC does not pay the authors for their contributions,” Bériot stresses. “For the first working group, we received 1000 applications and selected about 250 authors,” Jean Jouzel adds. The choice is based primarily on the candidates’ scientific excellence, taking male-female parity and equitable geographic distribution into consideration, and ensuring that developing countries are adequately represented. how are the reports prepared? “The actual drafting process takes about two and a half years,” Jouzel explains. As many as 20 authors contribute to each chapter, offering a critical analysis of the knowledge gathered from scientific publications on a given topic. The findings included in the first volume of the AR5 had to be accepted for publication no later than March 2013. The first version of the document is submitted to the IPCC scientists for comment, and the second version is made available to a wider public: any scientist with bona fide credentials in the field can participate in this revision process. For each edition of the report, the authors examine thousands of comments. In parallel, another group prepares two summaries of the 1000-plus pages contained in each volume: a technical summary and an overview for decision-makers, which is the most publicized document in each IPCC report. Do governments have their say? Government representatives can help define the report’s contents by requesting in-depth coverage of specific subjects, like sea level changes or carbon sinks for example. Once complete, the texts are submitted to each country in preparation for the final, unanimous approval by the Plenary. “In France, the review is carried out by a few dozen experts and scientists,” says Bériot, who is in charge of compiling their comments before issuing France’s official opinion on the report. “We are often criticized for allowing politicians to interfere, but countries’ amendments have to be based on information that is already present in the report. In other words, we’re talking about minor changes,” Jouzel points out. Publication of the report Government and expert review The working group and the IPCC approve the report and the overview for decision-makers The authors prepare a second-order draft of the report The authors prepare the final draft of the report Final review of the summary aimed at decision-makers


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