Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

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The Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describes itself as having been established to:

'provide the decision-makers and others interested in climate change with an objective source of information about climate change. The IPCC does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. Its role is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the latest scientific, technical and socio-economic literature produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change, its observed and projected impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they need to deal objectively with policy relevant scientific, technical and socio economic factors. They should be of high scientific and technical standards, and aim to reflect a range of views, expertise and wide geographical coverage.'[1]

According to the IPCC[2] , the findings of their reports have played, and continue to play a 'major source of information for the negotiations' for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This included a decisive role in leading to the establishment of the UNFCCC itself through the Rio de Janeiro Summit in 1992 (The UNFCC entered into force in 1994) and providing key inputs for the negotiations of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

On its website, the IPCC describes its constituency as made of[3]:

  • The governments: the IPCC is open to all member countries of WMO and UNEP. Governments of participate in plenary Sessions of the IPCC where main decisions about the IPCC workprogramme are taken and reports are accepted, adopted and approved. They also participate the review of IPCC Reports.
  • The scientists: hundreds of scientists all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC as authors, contributors and reviewers.
  • The people: as United Nations body, the IPCC work aims at the promotion of the United Nations human development goals

The activities of the IPCC are guided by the mandate given to it by its parent organisations WMO and UNEP and governed by principles agreed by the Panel. The Panel, which meets about once a year, decides the workprogramme of the IPCC. These decisions are made at plenary sessions of Government representatives which are are also attended by hundreds of officials and experts from relevant ministries, agencies and research institutions from member countries and from participating organizations[4].

Biographical Information

The IPCC is described as an 'intergovernmental body' which is open to all member countries of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)[5]


The IPCC was established in 1988 by UNEP and the WMO when they deemed climate change to be a very complex issue which created a need for policymakers to have an 'objective source of information about the causes of climate change, its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences and the adaptation and mitigation options to respond to it'[6].

The IPCC has produced an Anniversary Brochure 16 Years of Scientific Assessment in Support of the Climate Convention December 2004], giving an overview of its activities since its conception. Accessed 10th April 2009.

Current activities

In 2009, IPCC state that they are currently operating 3 Working Groups and the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. The Working Groups and the Task Force are described as having 'clearly defined mandates as agreed by the Panel and their activities are guided by two Co-chairs each. They are assisted by a Technical Support Unit and the Working Group or Task Force Bureau. Working Group 1 deals with "The Physical Science Basis of Climate Change", Working Group 2 with "Climate Change Impact, Adaptation and Vulnerability" and Working Group 3 with "Mitigation of Climate Change". The main objective of the Task Force is to develop and refine a methodology for the calculation and reporting of national GHG emissions and removals. In addition to the Working Groups and Task Force, further Task Groups and Steering Groups may be established for a limited or longer duration to consider a specific topic or question'[7].




In September 2008, the IPCC lists its people as[8]

The IPCC Bureau

Rajendra K. Pachauri - Chairman | Ogunlade Davidson (Sierra Leone)- Vice Chair | Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (Belgium) - Vice Chair | Hoesung Lee (Republic of Korea) - Vice Chair | Thomas Stocker (Switzerland) and Dahe Qin (China) - Working Group I Co-Chairs | Christopher Field (USA) and Vicente Barros (Argentina) - Working Group II Co-Chairs | Ottmar Edenhofer (Germany), Ramon Pichs-Madruga (Cuba) and Youba Sokona (Mali) - Working Group III Co-Chairs | Taka Hiraishi (Japan) and Thelma Krug (Brazil) - Task Force Bureau National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Co-Chairs

Working Group I Vice chairs are : Abdalah Mokssit (Morocco) | Fatemeh Rahimzadeh - (Islamic Republic of Iran) | Francis Zwiers (Canada) | Fredolin T. Tangang (Malaysia) | David Wratt (New Zealand) | Jean Jouzel (France)
Working Group II Vice chairs are: Nirivololona Raholijao (Madagascar) | Ajmad Abdulla (Maldives) | Eduardo Calvo Buendia (Peru) | Neville Smith (Australia) | Jose M Moreno (Spain) | Sergey Semenov (Russian Federation)
Working Group III Vice chairs are: Ismail A.R. El Gizouli (Sudan) | Suzana Kahn Ribeiro (Brazil) | Antonina Ivanova Boncheva (Mexico) | Carlo Carraro (Italy) | Jim Skea (UK)

Bureau of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories


IPPC's website states that 'IPCC activities, in particular the participation of developing country experts in the IPCC work, and publication and translation of IPCC reports are supported by the IPCC Trust Fund to which Governments, provide voluntary contributions. Governments provide further substantial support for activities of the IPCC, in particular through hosting Technical Support Units, supporting the participation of experts in IPCC activities, organising meetings and contributing to translations. WMO, UNEP and the UNFCCC provide also financial support. WMO hosts the IPCC Secretariat and WMO and UNEP provide one staff member each for the IPCC Secretariat.[9]'


ExxonMobil and White House succeed in campaign to oust outspoken scientist

In 2002, The New Scientist reported [10] how IPCC Chair of three years, Robert Watson, had been ousted from the position following 'the withdrawal of support by the US government, apparently at the behest of the oil company ExxonMobil, which had lobbied against him'. It was reported that the US may have 'threatened to drop funding for the IPCC if he stayed on'. Watson is described as 'one of the world's leading climate scientists' who was 'frequently outspoken' having 'spoken very strongly about the need for action to combat global warming', which had enraged global warming sceptics. He was replaced by one of his vice-chaimen, Indian science administrator, economist and former railway engineer Rajendra Pachauri, who was described as having 'a reputation for being less abrasive towards industry than Watson'. The report stated that Pachauri had been profiled on the web sites of both Ford and Unilever and went on to report that Pachauri's main attribute for the US was that he was not Robert Watson.

The report highlighted how the workings of the IPCC have become politicised and quoted Kate Hampton, international climate co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth as saying:

"The fossil fuel industry and the US government will be celebrating their success in kicking out Bob Watson, an experienced scientist who understood that urgent action is needed to tackle global climate change. The Bush administration and its friends would rather shoot the messenger than listen to the message."

The Guardian provided further insight into situation when they reported that the US campaign to oust Watson had come 'to light after the disclosure of a confidential memorandum from the world's biggest oil company, ExxonMobil, to the White House, proposing a strategy for his removal'[11]. The report describes the situation as 'a campaign by the Bush administration, Exxon-Mobil and other energy companies to get him [Watson] replaced'. It was stated that, according to diplomats, this was a 'behind-the-scenes diplomatic campaign by the US to persuade developing countries to vote against Dr Watson'. The report continued that the campaign 'included the removal of President Bill Clinton's appointees on the US delegation, and their replacement by officials more sympathetic to the needs of industry'.

Diplomats in Washington are reported to have confirmed that the US had pursued an active campaign against Dr Watson, however the head of the US delegation to the IPCC, Harlan Watson, denied claims of a vendetta and said that Dr Pachauri was both well qualified and the first strong candidate put forward by the developing world.

Environmentalists are reported to have 'argued that the anti-Watson campaign was a show of strength by the US, oil producers like Saudi Arabia, and oil corporations like Exxon-Mobil, intended to cow the IPCC'. In the words of Greenpeace climate change specialist Steve Sawyer, "Even the most cynical would be shocked by the heavy-handed tactics of the US delegation's bald display of their fossil fuel- backed politics."

Publications, Contact, Resources and Notes



IPCC Secretariat
C/O World Meteorological Organization
7bis Avenue de la Paix, C.P. 2300
CH-1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
Phone: +41-22-730-8208
Fax: +41-22-730-8025


December 2004], Anniversary Brochure giving an overview of IPCC activities since its conception.


  1. Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change About IPCC Accessed 10th April 2009
  2. Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change About IPCC Accessed 10th April 2009
  3. Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change About IPCC Accessed 10th April 2009
  4. Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change About IPCC: How the IPCC is organized Accessed 10th April 2009
  5. Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change About IPCC: How the IPCC is organized Accessed 10th April 2009
  6. Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change About IPCC Accessed 10th April 2009
  7. Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change About IPCC: How the IPCC is organized Accessed 10th April 2009
  8. Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change About the IPCC:The IPCC Bureau and the Task Force Bureau September 2008. Accessed 10th April 2009
  9. Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change About IPCC: How the IPCC is organized Accessed 10th April 2009
  10. Pearce, F. (2002) Top climate scientist ousted The New Scientist 19th April 2002. Accessed 14th April 2009
  11. Borger, J (2002) US and oil lobby oust climate change scientist. The Guardian. 20th April 2002. Accessed 14th April 2009