The establishment of the IPCC was endorsed by UN General Assembly in 1988. Its initial task, as outlined in UN General Assembly Resolution 43/53 of 6 December 1988, was to prepare a comprehensive review and recommendations with respect to the state of knowledge of the science of climate change; the social and economic impact of climate change, and potential response strategies and elements for inclusion in a possible future international convention on climate. Since 1988, the IPCC has had five assessment cycles and delivered five Assessment Reports, the most comprehensive scientific reports about climate change produced worldwide. It has also produced a range of Methodology Reports, Special Reports and Technical Papers, in response to requests for information on specific scientific and technical matters from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), governments and international organizations.
Since the creation of the IPCC, each Assessment Report has fed directly into international climate policymaking.
In 1990, the First IPCC Assessment Report (FAR) underlined the importance of climate change as a challenge with global consequences and requiring international cooperation. It played a decisive role in the creation of the UNFCCC, the key international treaty to reduce global warming and cope with the consequences of climate change. The Second Assessment Report (SAR) (1995) provided important material for governments to draw from in the run-up to adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The Third Assessment Report (TAR) (2001) focused attention on the impacts of climate change and the need for adaptation. The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) (2007) laid the ground work for a post-Kyoto agreement, focusing on limiting warming to 2°C. The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) was finalized between 2013 and 2014. It provided the scientific input into the Paris Agreement. The IPCC is currently in its Sixth Assessment cycle where it will prepare three Special Reports, a Methodology Report and the Sixth Assessment Report. The first of these Special Reports, Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15), was requested by world governments under the Paris Agreement. In May 2019, the IPCC finalised the 2019 Refinement – an update to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. The Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL) was in August 2019 and the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) in September 2019. The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) was finalized in March 2023 in time for the first global stocktake at the end of 2023.
In 2007, the IPCC and U.S. Vice-President Al Gore were jointly 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 full statement about the 2007 Nobel Prize Award can be found here.
In October 2022, the IPCC and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) were declared co-laureates of the 2022 Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity.
The Jury of the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity led by Dr. Angela Merkel, selected the IPCC and IPBES out of 116 nominations from 41 countries, in recognition of “…the role of science on the front line of tackling climate change and the loss of biodiversity.”
In March 2010 U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri asked the InterAcademy Council (IAC) to conduct an independent review of IPCC procedures. The IAC issued a report and recommendations in August 2010. The IPCC considered these at its subsequent sessions, and made a number of revisions to its procedures as a result. Details of the IAC report and the changes to the IPCC procedures can be found here
The IPCC celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2018. Several member governments held conferences or events to mark the occasion. Communications material about the IPCC to support the efforts of stakeholders organizing events to mark the 30th anniversary of the IPCC can be found here.