Where Science Meets Policy

By Susanna De Beauville-Scott, Department of Sustainable Development

This article was originally published in The Voice Saint Lucia on October 17, 2017.

THE Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations (UN). It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide, relevant to the understanding of climate change.

The work of the Panel is published through Assessment Reports and Special Reports, which comprise the full scientific and technical assessment of climate change. The Panel meets in Plenary Sessions at the level of government representatives for all member countries. Currently, the IPCC has 195 members, including Saint Lucia. The Panel meets approximately once a year at the plenary level.

Major decisions are taken by the Panel during the plenary sessions, including the approval, adoption and acceptance of reports. Notably, the very first assessment report of the IPCC served as the basis for negotiating the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the work of the IPCC has continued to be supportive of efforts being undertaken under the UNFCCC.

At this stage, the IPCC is preparing its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), along with three Special Reports on:
• Impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels (due by September 2018);
• Climate change and land, including desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security (due by September 2019); and
• Ocean and cryosphere in a changing climate (due by September 2019).

Saint Lucia was instrumental in securing these Special Reports and continues to play a key role in defining the outlines and content of the reports. The AR6 (Synthesis Report) is scheduled to be completed and approved by April 2022.

The IPCC is organized into three Working Groups. Working Group I deals with “The Physical Science Basis of Climate Change”, Working Group II with “Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” and Working Group III with “Mitigation of Climate Change”. The outputs of these three groups will be used to prepare the AR6 (Synthesis Report) and the Special Reports.

Decisions taken by the IPCC have far-reaching consequences for countries’ ability to impact decisions at other fora, such as the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP); noting that products of the IPCC, including the Assessment Reports, form the scientific foundation for negotiating at that policy level (e.g. at the UNFCCC COP meetings).

Over the years, Saint Lucia has played a leading role in securing decisions at the level of IPCC that benefit the country, and region as a whole, at the level of the UNFCCC.

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