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Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change
What is the IPCC?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change.
The IPCC is an intergovernmental body and focuses on the science-policy interface, i.e. handing over scientific information so that it can underpin government decisions on how to address climate change.
It is open to all member countries of the United Nations (UN) and WMO.
Reports are written by scientists drawn from around the world based on their expertise and geographical balance.
Governments participate in the review process and the plenary Sessions, where main decisions about the IPCC work programme are taken and reports are accepted, adopted and approved.
The IPCC provides guidelines and best practice advice on preparing greenhouse gas emissions inventories through its Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.
IPCC Structure Read more
IPCC Reports Read more
What is the IPCC Bureau?
The IPCC Bureau consists of the IPCC Chair, three IPCC Vice Chairs, Co-Chairs of the three Working Groups and the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and 6-8 members of each of the three Working Group Bureaus. The Bureau is chaired by the IPCC Chair (recently elected Dr Hoesung Lee from the Republic of Korea). The Bureau’s work is supported by the IPCC Secretariat based in Geneva.
IPCC Bureau Composition Read more
IPCC AR5 Synthesis Report: 31/10/14
Released on 31 October 2014, the Synthesis Report of the IPCC AR5 in Copenhagen provides a summation of the reports of the three IPCC Working Groups including relevant Special Reports.
- For more information visit ipcc.ch
IPCC AR5 WGII Report: 31/03/14
On March 31 2014 was the release of the IPCC WGII report on assessing and managing the risks of climate change.
The report characterises observed impacts, vulnerability, and exposure, and adaptive responses to date; examines future risks and potential benefits and considers principles for effective adaptation and the broader interactions among adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development.
NZAGRC Deputy Director (International), Dr Andy Reisinger is a Coordinating Lead Author (CLA) for Chapter 25: Australasia, which provides scientific analysis of the expected regional impacts including risks and adaptation solutions for the agricultural industry.
For more information the IPCC AR5 WGII report visit ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/
IPCC AR5 WGIII Report: 14/04/14
The IPCC WGIII report assesses all relevant options for mitigating climate change through limiting or preventing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing activities that remove them from the atmosphere.
NZAGRC Director, Harry Clark MNZM PhD is a Lead Author (LA) for Chapter 11: Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU), which will provide solutions by which mitigation techniques can be better utilised, analysis of current emissions trends and links between apadtation (WGII) and mitigation.
For more information on the IPCC AR5 WGIII report visit ipcc-wg3.de/
IPCC AR6: Schedule
The IPCC is currently in its Sixth Assessment cycle. During this cycle, the Panel will produce three Special Reports, a Methodology Report and the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).
Global Warming of 1.5 °C (SR15): An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty
2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories
Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC)
Climate Change and Land (SRCCL: An IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems
Working Group I, II, II contribution to Sixth Assessment Report (AR6)
AR6 Synthesis Report
IPCC NZ Stakeholder Workshop: 30/04/14
On 30 April 2014 a workshop was held at the Royal Society of New Zealand in Wellington.
Presentations and Q&A sessions from April's IPCC Stakeholder Workshop "Responding to Climate Change" are now available for viewing online: www.nzclimatechangecentre.org/research/ipcc-working-group-ii-iii-stakeholder-workshop-videos
Andy Reisinger appointed to IPCC Bureau
Dr Andy Reisinger, Deputy Director (International) has been appointed as a member of the IPCC Bureau to provide guidance to the 195 country governments represented in the IPCC on scientific aspects and process for delivering a sixth assessment report (AR6) and a series of Special Reports over the next 7 years.
This appointment is the natural next step for Andy, who has been heavily involved in the IPCC since his appointment as New Zealand government representative to the Panel in 2000. Andy stepped away from this role in 2006 when he headed the Technical Support Unit (TSU) for AR4 Synthesis Report, a position that took him to the UK and India (New Delhi) for two years. The IPCC was the recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
In the most recent assessment report (AR5), released in 2014, Andy coordinated the IPCC chapter on impacts and adaptation options for Australasia, co-authored the Summary for Policymakers for the full WGII report on impacts and adaptation, and coordinated a major part of the concluding Synthesis Report. All IPCC reports are available at www.ipcc.ch
In his Bureau appointment, Andy will represent Region 5 (South-west Pacific) and Working Group 3: Mitigation (WGIII) for the duration of the AR6 and associated Special Reports, expected to take 5-7 years. Tasks will include supporting the Panel, IPCC Chair and co-chairs of WGIII to deliver its AR6 by providing scientific advice on the scope of reports, nomination and selection of authors and other scientific and procedural advice.
Dr Harry Clark, NZAGRC Director notes that Andy’s involvement as representative for the region, which includes Asian rim and Pacific nations, is an accolade of Andy’s personal commitment and knowledge of greenhouse gases mitigation and adaptation research and policy. His continued involvement in the IPCC Assessment Reports provides a continuity of focus and commitment to increasing knowledge and awareness of the potential impacts of climate change.
Conclusion of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report: Climate change threatens irreversible and dangerous impacts, but options exist to limit its effects
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded its Fifth Assessment Report on 2 November 2014 with the release of its Synthesis Report. The Synthesis Report distils and integrates the findings of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report produced by over 800 scientists and released over the past 13 months - the most comprehensive assessment of climate change ever undertaken.
Some of the key conclusions from the report are that:
- human influence on the climate system is clear and growing
- impacts of climate change have been observed on all continents
- if left unchecked, climate change will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems
- many options are available to adapt to climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to ensure the risks from climate change remain manageable, creating a brighter and more sustainable future.
IPCC report authors met with government representatives in Copenhagen during the last week of October to finalise the "Summary for Policymakers" of the report. IPCC Chair Dr Pachauri opened the meeting by saying the report points to solutions to tackle climate change. "We still have time to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change," he said. "But we have precious little of that time".
The Synthesis Report says it is 95% certain that emissions of greenhouse gases and other anthropogenic drivers have been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century, and recent climate changes (regardless of their cause) have already had widespread impacts on human and natural systems. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in climate system, increasing the likelihood of widespread and profound impacts affecting all levels of society and the natural world, the report finds.
Two climate scientists associated with the New Zealand Climate Change Centre participated in the meeting. Dr Andy Reisinger, Deputy Director of the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre was a member of the core writing team for the draft report, and Dr David Wratt of NIWA and Victoria University attended as a member of the IPCC Bureau.
The Synthesis Report makes a clear case that challenges are particularly large for least developed countries and vulnerable communities, including marginalized people within countries, given their more limited ability to cope.
The report finds that adapting to climate change can play a key role in addressing these risks, but there are limits to its effectiveness, especially with greater magnitudes and rates of climate change. Substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions are at the core of limiting the risks of climate change. Dr Reisinger says: "Reducing emissions reduces the rate as well as the magnitude of warming; this not only reduces its impacts but also increases the time available for adaptation to a particular level of climate change, potentially by several decades."
Substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades, with near-zero global emissions of CO2 by the end of the 21st century, would be needed to limit warming to 2°C above preindustrial levels - the goal set by Governments. Dr Reisinger says: "Implementing such reductions poses substantial technological, economic, social and institutional challenges, and there are multiple paths for how we could achieve that goal. But the challenges will increase if we delay additional global mitigation to 2030 or exclude some technologies".
The report offers a strong recognition that international cooperation is crucial for effective global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, but that cooperation across and within countries can also enhance efforts to adapt to climate change.
The meeting was attended by 34 lead authors of the report and 270 government delegates from 114 countries to negotiate and approve the wording of the report summary, including a New Zealand Government delegation comprising officials from the Ministry for the Environment.
Full text of the IPCC Synthesis Report is available on the IPCC website www.ipcc.ch
Financial imperatives in reducing emissions
OPINION: The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms that agriculture is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.
No group will therefore be more surprised than farmers, when they hear how much they are doing "right" to minimise greenhouse gas emissions.
Agriculture has long had the finger pointed at it for being the biggest source of emissions in New Zealand.
However, few people - including perhaps farmers themselves - appreciate that the financially driven need to farm more efficiently has also had a positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
The increasing efficiency and productivity means that the total greenhouse gas emissions per unit of agricultural product (that is, per kilogram of meat or milk solids) have declined and are about 20 per cent less today than in 1990.
However, the story does not end there. New Zealand agriculture may be more efficient than ever, but it also produces more food than ever - particularly in the dairy sector, where milk solids production has nearly tripled since 1990.
Overall, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in New Zealand have increased by 12 per cent between 1990 and 2011. Without the improved efficiency, agriculture's total emissions would now be 30 per cent greater than in 1990.
Whether these contrasting trends in New Zealand's agricultural emissions cause concern or celebration depends very much on the role one sees for our country in addressing global climate change.
New Zealand trades on its clean and green credentials and has set a country target of reducing total emissions to 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. Although this can be achieved by a combination of reduced absolute emissions, enhanced carbon sinks (for example, forests) and the purchase of credits for emission reductions in other countries, it is hard to see the target being met without absolute reductions in agricultural emissions.
On the other hand, as a major agricultural trading country, there may be little benefit in New Zealand curtailing its own production for the sake of reducing its emissions when the global population and demand for animal protein is rising.
Other countries - many of whom produce food less efficiently than New Zealand - would likely meet this demand, resulting in economic losses to New Zealand without gains to the global climate. Resolving this tension is inevitably a political process that can be informed, but not determined, by good science.
Meanwhile, what can farmers do? The answer is "be as efficient as you can".
There is no indication yet that the historical improvements in production efficiency have reached a plateau.
In fact, greenhouse gas "footprinting" studies show us that individual farms vary considerably in their emissions per unit of product, highlighting the scope for improvement by less efficient farmers.
Optimising fertiliser use, utilising improved animal and plant genetics, improving animal fertility and longevity, and improved feeding practices will all help drive down emissions per unit of product.
"Best practice" needs to become "standard practice" across the sector.
Balancing climate change concerns with economic, social and environmental pressures will be an ongoing challenge for New Zealand farmers.
There are no easy answers. More intensive farm systems have the potential to deliver lower greenhouse gas emissions per unit of product - but come with the risk of greater nitrogen losses and increased absolute emissions.
In many catchments, limits to nitrogen leaching to protect our waterways constrain further intensification.
The key challenge for addressing greenhouse gases is that, even with continued improvements in efficiency, absolute emissions will continue to rise if the sector is to achieve its growth targets.
Additional options to reduce emissions are needed. Jointly funded by industry and government, researchers are working hard to provide such options - that is, practical solutions that will make a meaningful dent in emissions.
This is not pie-in-the-sky research. New Zealand researchers have already identified and bred sheep that emit less greenhouse gases than others, while being just as productive. Breeding for low emissions could, over time and by itself, reduce emissions by 10 per cent.
Science teams are also developing options for a vaccine or inhibitors to selectively suppress the generation of methane in the rumen. This approach would raise the prospect of also increasing productivity, given that every bubble of methane leaving an animal's mouth represents a loss of energy - energy that could have been used to support growth.
New Zealand's agriculture sector has proved itself to be incredibly innovative, which has allowed it to recover from the major shock of economic restructuring to become a world- leading performer.
The next step towards overcoming the challenge that climate change poses to agriculture and the New Zealand economy is to combine the innovation of our farmers with the savvy of our scientists.
By working together, New Zealand stands a much greater chance of meeting that challenge.
Harry Clark is the director of the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, Mark Aspin is manager of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, and Andy Reisinger is deputy director of the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.
- The Dominion Post
For the article text see http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment
See how the NZAGRC is involved with the IPCC at Knowledge > IPCC
NZ must face climate change flexibly
OPINION: Climate change is real. As a population, the majority of us understand this. But what is probably less understood is what climate change might "look like" for New Zealanders.
The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), compiled over the past three years by an international team of more than 200 authors, provides a stark reminder that climate change poses serious challenges for the world.
See www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment for the full article
See Knowledge > IPCC for more about NZAGRC's involvement with the IPCC
The Impact of Livestock Agriculture on Climate Change
There is robust scientific evidence that the climate is changing, and that most of the warming observed over the past 50 years is due to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations from human activities. This fact sheet summarises why, and how, livestock agriculture contributes to climate change, and why limiting the projected global increase in those emissions is seen as a key component of dealing with climate change.
With almost half of our emissions from agriculture, New Zealand is unique in the developed world. Understanding the global contribution of agriculture to climate change provides important context for New Zealand's efforts to enable agriculture to continue to create wealth in a carbon constrained world.
Download fact sheet 1 (high res) (5.80MB)
Download fact sheet 1 (low res) (1.13MB)