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Background on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The IPCC is the multinational agency responsible for studying and spreading scientific knowledge related to global warming (particle emissions, causes and consequences of the greenhouse effect, etc). It studies the different scenarios of global climate change facing humanity in the 21st century.

The Intergovernmental Panel On Climatic Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 with the collaboration between two agencies of the United Nations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The objective of the new agency is to measure the “risk of human-induced climate change”.

The IPCC creates periodic reports on climate change that are extensively cited by governments, mass media and other institutions.

In them, “scientific, technical and socio-economic information” is offered related to the three fundamental objectives of the Panel:

  • Assess relevant information about human-induced climate change.
  • Study the true impact of the actions that have given rise to global warming.
  • Present alternatives for adaptation and mitigation of climate change.

The IPCC is composed of member scientists appointed by different governments, although the reports also benefit from the work of hundreds of independent, international experts from universities, research centers, and business and environmental organizations.

Panel members attend special meetings where they debate rough drafts and final versions of reports on climate change, its consequences and possible solutions to the current scenarios.

The main sessions and working groups are composed of government representatives, although observers and representatives of NGOs may be allowed to attend.

The IPCC does not carry out its own research nor does it monitor climate related data or other relevant parameters, but “it bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific/technical literature,” according to the organization.

The agency is dedicated to the tasks assigned it by the executive counsel of the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, besides serving to support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change (UNFCCC).

The IPCC consists of three working groups and a task force:

  • Working Group I evaluates the scientific aspects of climatic change.
  • Working Group II evaluates the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to new scenarios.
  • Working Group III evaluates the options to limit greenhouse gas emissions and for mitigating the effects of climatic change.
  • The so-called Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories is charged with accounting for the greenhouse gases emissions of every country.


The IPCC creates assessment reports, special reports, and methodological guides. In general, the reports of the IPCC contain methodological, technical, and scientific evaluation, a summary for those responsible for carrying out the proposed policies in the different governments (Summaries for Policymakers, SPM) and a chapter with general considerations.

The majority of the IPCC reports are published commercially. However, the summaries are usually translated from English to the six official languages of the United Nations, and are published by the IPCC.

Fourth Assessment Report on climate change (AR4)

On February 2, 2007, after several days of presentations in Paris, the IPCC published the Working Group I Summary for Policymakers report (dedicated to the science of the climate).

Once they have finished the parallel reports of Working Group II (working on the impacts of climatic change) and III (finalizing a report on the evaluation of the socioeconomic effects), all the information will be combined in the final synthesis of the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). The work will be presented in November of 2007 in Valencia, Spain.

The Working Group I report was awaited with worldwide anticipation, because it was released by the IPCC’s scientific group, whose work is the cornerstone of the entire study.

The report solidly establishes the reality of climate change, the responsibility of human activity for the phenomenon and the consequences of global warming for the planet.

  • Entire texts of IPCC reports, as well as all the translations, available on the official site of the organization.
  • More information about the Intergovernmental Panel On Climatic Change (IPCC) in Wikipedia and on the official website.