THE LIFE OF OUR PRODUCTS
These are slightly mysterious four letters that surface at regular intervals in our news cycle.. Without necessarily knowing what they actually stand for...It's time to fill you in.
Very often synonymous with (very) bad news, we hear about it on the radio, the television, we read about it in the newspaper… Because despite the fact, it's now been near to 30 years the "IPCC" has been warning us of the state of the planet, not a great deal of people, however, really know about it…
Let's start from the beginning: the definition. The IPCC is an "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change".
The IPCC was established in 1988. At the time, evidence of climate change had already been mounting for a long time. Scientists wrote numerous studies in the 1970s attesting to this. The idea emerged to provide the world with a working group, an international body responsible for taking an interest in this phenomenon and documenting it to make these findings more widely known.
Two major organisations took charge of this:the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). Together, they created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The IPCC is not a research laboratory or a lobby (as some climate sceptics would have us believe). Its mission is "simply" to compile, summarise and present existing scientific knowledge.
In short, one could say that the IPCC is conducting a giant press review, sifting through the thousands of research papers available on environmental and climate issues.It's a great deal of work to provide a summary. It sums up all this scientific knowledge in reports that are accessible to all. These are regularly updated as knowledge of the climate evolves.
According to its website, the IPCC defines its mission as follows: "Provide comprehensive assessments of the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its causes, potential impacts and response strategies."
It should be noted that the IPCC does not use everything and anything:it only selects knowledge from peer-reviewed scientific journals or from work in progress in research laboratories.
We often hear about the much talked about "IPCC reports". Given the complexity of the issues at stake (climate change on a global scale, its consequences, etc.), these are huge issues that require years of scientific and collective work. Two main types of reports can be distinguished:
📈 the Assessment Reports
These are comprehensive global reports published approximately every five years. The IPCC has produced six assessment reports since it was established: 1990, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2013/2014, and 2021/2022. The sixth report, entitled "AR6" (as in "Assessment Report 6"), is usually published in several instalments between August 2021 (volume 1) and September 2022 (volume 4).).
The assessment reports are in fact made up of four big parts, each published one at a time: "The Physical Science Basis"; the "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability" part; the "Mitigation Measures"; and finally, the "Synthesis report".
📑 the special reports
These are more specific documents that focus on a particular theme.For example: the impact of air traffic (Aviation and the Global Atmosphere, published in 1999); CO2 (Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage, in 2005) ; or even the state and role of the ocean (The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, in 2019).
The IPCC is an international body. Its members are, therefore, first and foremost, States. In this case, almost all the world's countries: 195 member countries are represented. The representatives of these countries meet at least once a year during plenary sessions. They are also funded by governments. IPCC operates with a (small) budget of 6 million Euros per year.
But the IPCC's working groups are also, and above all, hundreds of scientists who voluntarily contribute to producing the reports. None of these experts is paid: they each "donate" approximately 8 months of their work time (spread over 3 years) to take part in the organisation's mission. Technical support units, consisting of paid employees, are there to keep to cogs of the machine operational.
The scientists divided themselves up into three main working groups:
. le Working group I takes charge of the "Physical science basis of climate change". In essence, this is the group raising the alarm and telling us where we are in the climate crisis;
. Working group II takes care of " impacts, adaptation and vulnerability". As its name suggests, this group deals more with how to respond to climate change on the ground, region by region;
. Working group III, lastly, deals with "mitigation of climate change". It's all the solutions to be implemented to reduce global warming.
A task force on national greenhouse gases inventories" rounds it off. Its mission: build and improve methodologies for calculating and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and removals at a national level.
The number of scientists involved (there were for example. 833 for the 2014 report), the method of co-construction (4 drafts and as many reviews for each report) and the strict transparency protocols guarantee the reliability and scientific rigour of IPCC reports. They are now considered the most comprehensive source for documenting climate change.
For three decades, the IPCC reports have demonstrated strong and clear scientific consensus on the scale of the climate crisis. The 6th report currently published is no exception.
What we can learn from it:
- greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and global warming is accelerating. It is getting worse, all over the world, with there being risks of tipping points;
- to limit warming to 1.5°C, carbon neutrality must be achieved by the early 2050s (just 28 years from now). If countries do not step up their climate policies now, we are heading, on average, for global warming of 3.2 to 5°C (worst case scenario) at the end of this century;
- the impacts of global warming are and will continue to be more violent and destructive for ecosystems and humans; they are also increasingly irreversible;and adapting to it will become increasingly costly;
- the window to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis is now very small, but (let's retain this!) we can still do it. . It requires extremely rapid (if not immediate) and far-reaching measures, urgently reducing our consumption of fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal).
The IPCC website
The IPCC reports
The IPCC on Facebook
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