What is the IPCC?

Since the end of the Eighties, scientists have become aware that the great amount of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions was causing an increase in the greenhouse effect, and consequently, significant changes in climate which could trigger many problems. In order to have a clearer and more thorough knowledge of the situation, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) created the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in 1988 with the intention of providing “a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts”. The IPCC is an intergovernmental body which the member countries of both the UNEP and the WMO have joined. It does not involve carrying out direct research but rather assessments. So what does it do exactly? The IPCC aims at collecting and summarising all relevant information available to better understand the phenomenon of climate change and its possible impacts; in particular, the risks to human health associated with climate change, as well as the possible response strategies to be implemented, such as adaptation and mitigation. These measures, put forward by the scientific community worldwide, are carefully checked by hundreds of experts that ensure the validity of the information collected. Each participating government has a designated Focal Point IPCC, whose task is to coordinate the activities in the country. The importance of this project was recognised in 2007 when IPCC and Albert (Al) Gore Jr. were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”.
The IPCC è divided into three working groups (WG) and a task force:

  • WG I assesses the climate system from a physical point of view
  • WG II assesses the vulnerability of natural and socio-economic systems, the impacts of climate change and the possible adaptation options
  • WG III assesses options for mitigating climate change and proposes economic evaluations
  • the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories oversees the IPCC National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme which aims to develop and refine an internationally agreed methodology and software for the calculation and reporting of national greenhouse gas emissions.

Once a year the Panel meets in plenary session to adopt all official decisions such as the approval of reports and the definition of future work projects. Hence the main task of the IPCC is to periodically produce an Assessment Report (AR) which contains the state-of-the-art of the most significant literature put forward by scientists in the field of climate change. The Assessment Report is divided into three parts, one for each Working Group. The first report was published in 1990, the second in 1995, the third in 2001 and the fourth in 2007. The Fifth Assessment Report was published in 2014; it was completed in April 2014. Besides the Assessment Reports, the IPCC also prepares Special Reports and Technical Papers, which even provide scientific support to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – UNFCCC.

Special reports

From the Multimedia section

  • air

    The greenhouse effect

    Look

    ecosystems

    Deforestation

    Look

    air

    Albedo

    Look
  • air

    Future scenarios of an increase in the temperature

    Look

    air

    Icebergs, ice packs and glaciers

    Look

    air

    Mean sea level rise foreseen by IPCC

    Look
  • air

    Desertification

    Look

    air

    Life-cycle of different gases in the atmosphere

    Look

    air

    Save the air

    Listen
  • air

    The greenhouse effect

    Look

    ecosystems

    Deforestation

    Look
  • air

    Albedo

    Look

    air

    Future scenarios of an increase in the temperature

    Look
  • air

    Icebergs, ice packs and glaciers

    Look

    air

    Mean sea level rise foreseen by IPCC

    Look

Facts

  • 24 February 2011

    What about the permafrost?

    In Sub Arctic Swedish regions, some scientists studied the changes of permafrost...

  • 23 February 2012

    CO2 “eating” trees

    If a tree “eats” CO2 and produces oxygen it is easy to understand the importance it has in reducing the…

  • 3 March 2011

    How hot it is!

    When we feel an oppressive heat, our first thought goes to...