GENEVA, May 29 – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has extended the cut-off date for scientific literature to be included in the contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of Working Group I, which deals with the physical science basis of climate change, by four months from 30 September 2020 in the original Working Group I schedule to 31 January 2021.
IPCC Working Group I has run surveys with climate scientists and editors of relevant scientific journals and consultations with authors of the assessment report underway to assess the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and inform the adjustment of the schedule.
In the light of the disruption to scientific work worldwide caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the extension to the literature cut-off date has been implemented and the last Lead Author meeting of Working Group I authors, initially scheduled in the first week of June in Chile, has been postponed. Working Group I has decided to hold a series of virtual meetings with their 233 authors in June and July to incorporate insights from review comments to define revisions to take place for chapters of the report, for the Technical Summary and the Summary for Policymakers.
“The IPCC is continuing to work to prepare the Sixth Assessment Report, despite these tough, unprecedented circumstances. This is possible due to your commitment and dedication,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee in remarks prepared for the opening of the first in the series of virtual meetings for Working Group I authors starting on 1 June.
The Working Group I contribution to AR6, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, will assess large-scale climate changes, climate processes and feedback and regional climate information. The Working Group I report includes an interactive online atlas, which was also open for review comments.
The IPCC had already extended the current government and expert review of the Second Order Draft of the Working Group I report until 5 June 2020 to allow reviewers more time to provide comments. Registration for the review is possible here until midnight Central European Time, today, 29 May.
The IPCC approved the proposal by the Working Group I Bureau for further revisions to the timetable for the report after consultations showed that more time would be required to prepare the report in the changed working conditions of pandemic in order to preserve the scientific quality of the assessment and alleviate the pressure on authors of the report, who work on a volunteer basis in addition to their research activities and other duties.
Among other changes to the AR6 work programme due to COVID-19, Working Group II (impacts, adaptation and vulnerability) has extended some deadlines this year, and Working Group III (mitigation of climate change) has held its third Lead Author Meeting remotely instead of in person.
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About 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 (now 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, and to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies. In the same year the UN General Assembly endorsed the action by the WMO and UNEP in jointly establishing the IPCC. 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 inform policymakers about the state of knowledge on climate change. The IPCC identifies where there is agreement in the scientific community, where there are differences 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 (the physical science basis of climate change); Working Group II (impacts, adaptation and vulnerability); and Working Group III (mitigation of climate change). It also has a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories that develops methodologies for estimating anthropogenic emissions and removals of greenhouse gases. All of these are supported by Technical Support Units guiding the production of IPCC assessment reports and other products.
IPCC Assessment Reports consist of contributions from each of the three working groups and a Synthesis Report. Special Reports undertake a shorter assessment of specific cross-disciplinary issues that usually span more than one working group.
About the Sixth Assessment Cycle
At its 41st Session in February 2015, the IPCC decided to produce a Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). At its 42nd Session in October 2015 it elected a new Bureau that would oversee the work on this report and Special Reports to be produced in the assessment cycle.
The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC was released in October 2018, the 2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories in May 2019, the Special Report on Climate Change and Land in August 2019, and the Special Report on The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate in September 2019.