GENEVA, June 15 – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) achieved carbon neutrality at its last plenary session, thanks to generous support from host country France.
The 47th Session of the IPCC, held in Paris on 13-16 March 2018, is thus the first climate-neutral meeting of the IPCC.
The IPCC worked with the Climate Neutral Now initiative of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN Climate Change, or UNFCCC) to offset carbon emissions involved in participant travel to the meeting and arising from the meeting itself at the conference location.
“I would like to recognise the leadership and commitment of the Government of France, which enabled us to reach this important goal,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “The IPCC is walking the talk, and I hope that with the support of our members we can continue to be climate-neutral at future meetings.”
Nicolas Hulot, France’s Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, welcomed the offset of emissions from the IPCC’s 47th Session.
“This is a first for a plenary session of the IPCC. I hope this will become standard usage for international events, and a priority for those interested in protecting the climate system,” said Mr Hulot. “Every opportunity must be seized to raise our awareness about the choices we make and their impacts on our future climate.”
A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for (“offset”) an emission made elsewhere. The Climate Neutral Now platform works by compensating unavoidable emissions with credits in the Clean Development Mechanism, supporting projects in developing countries.
“By making use of our Climate Neutral Now initiative, the IPCC is demonstrating how this valuable tool can be practically deployed to help achieve the Paris Agreement climate action goals,” said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. “I hope many others will be inspired to do the same – including governments, organizations, companies and citizens, who all need to take climate action to safeguard the future of our planet.”
Travel to IPCC meetings for participants from developing countries and economies in transition supported by the IPCC Trust Fund has been offset since 2014 in line with the policies of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which is one of the IPCC’s two parent organizations along with UN Environment, which manages the Trust Fund on behalf of the IPCC.
For the IPCC’s 47th Session, the French government covered the costs of offsetting travel by participants not supported by the Trust Fund, and offset other emissions from local travel and the meeting venue, the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
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The IPCC’s 47th plenary session, and an event to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the IPCC, also hosted by France, were held in Paris on 13-16 March 2018.
The IPCC’s next plenary session will be held in Incheon, Republic of Korea, on 1-5 October 2018, when the IPCC will consider the Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report Global Warming of 1.5ºC.
What is the IPCC?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies. It has 195 member states.
IPCC assessments provide governments, at all levels, with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC assessments are a key input into the international negotiations to tackle climate change. IPCC reports are drafted and reviewed in several stages, thus guaranteeing objectivity and transparency.
The IPCC assesses the thousands of scientific papers published each year to tell policymakers what is known about the risks related to climate change. The IPCC identifies where there is agreement in the scientific community, where there are differences of opinion, and where further research is needed. It does not conduct its own research.
To produce its reports, the IPCC mobilizes hundreds of scientists. These scientists and officials are drawn from diverse backgrounds. Only a dozen permanent staff work in the IPCC’s Secretariat.
The IPCC has three working groups: Working Group I, dealing with the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II, dealing with impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III, dealing with the mitigation of climate change. It also has a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories that develops methodologies for measuring emissions and removals.
IPCC Assessment Reports consist of contributions from each of the three working groups and a Synthesis Report. Special Reports undertake an assessment of cross-disciplinary issues that often span more than one working group and are shorter and more focused than the main assessments.
Sixth Assessment Cycle
At its 41st Session in February 2015, the IPCC decided to produce a Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). At its 43rd Session in April 2016, it decided to produce three Special Reports, a Methodology Report and AR6.
The IPCC is due to hold the approval plenary for Global Warming of 1.5ºC, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty, at its 48th Session in Incheon, Republic of Korea, on 1-5 October.
The Methodology Report to refine the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories will be delivered in 2019. The IPCC will finalize two further special reports in 2019: the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate and Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. The AR6 Synthesis Report will be finalized in the first half of 2022.