IPCC Working Group III Co-Chairs, P.R. Shukla and Jim Skea, discuss some of the big achievements of 2017, and what to expect from Working Group III in the year to come.

Working Group III Co-Chairs P.R. Shukla and Jim Skea at the 45th session of the IPCC in Guadalajara, Mexico (March 2017). Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera.

2017 was a year of firsts for the IPCC: The first Lead Author Meetings of this cycle’s Special Reports took place in March (Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C) and October (Special Reports on Climate Change and Land and on Oceans and the Cryosphere). The First Order Draft of the 1.5°C report went out for expert review over the summer. It generated nearly 13,000 comments by hundreds of experts from around the world. These fed directly into the Second Order Draft that is currently under review.

Participants of the IPCC AR6 scoping meeting in Addis Ababa (May 2017).

2017 was also the year that laid the groundwork for the 6th Assessment Report (AR6). Hundreds of scientists and technical experts got together in Addis Ababa in May to scope the content of AR6. This directly followed an influential Expert Meeting on scenarios convened by Working Group III. In September, governments agreed the final outlines at the 46th IPCC Plenary in Montreal, Canada.

Working Group III during the approval session of the outlines of the IPCC 6th Assessment Report. Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis.

These are no small feats and are the product of months and years of planning and preparation.

In 2018, we will pick up the pace: the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, the first IPCC report of this cycle, is due for approval in October 2018 and there is a range of meetings and conferences in the pipeline. Here are just a few of the Working Group III activities that will be coming up this year:

  • The author teams that will draft the Working Group III contribution to AR6 will be announced soon, following their selection at the IPCC Working Group III Bureau meeting at the end of January. This will be the start of the next big assessment of the science related to the mitigation of climate change.
  • In March, scientists, practitioners and policymakers will come together for

    Beijing. Credit: M. Ferrat.

    the CitiesIPCC conference in Edmonton, Canada to inspire the next frontier of research focused on the science of cities and climate change. The conference aims to assess the state of academic and practice-based knowledge related to cities and climate change, and to establish a global research agenda to help fill knowledge key gaps across the academic, practitioner and urban policy-making communities.

  • The following week, we will attend, along with other IPCC Bureau members, the 47th plenary session of the IPCC in Paris, France. This session is expected to consider the participation of developing countries in IPCC, the alignment of the cycles of the IPCC and the Paris Agreement global stocktake, and author selection for the 6th assessment cycle.
  • Later that month, the authors of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land will meet in Christchurch, New Zealand, for their second Lead Author Meeting. Gaining a better understanding of the feedbacks between climate change and land was seen as a priority for governments at the start of this cycle and this meeting will be the opportunity for these authors to plan the First Order Draft of the Special Report. This will then be available for expert review in the summer.

IPCC authors at the first Lead Author Meeting of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land. Credit: M. Ferrat.

  • In April, the fourth and final Lead Author Meeting of the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C will take place in Gaborone, Botswana. At this meeting, the authors will discuss experts’ and governments’ comments on the Second Order Draft of the report and the first draft of the Summary for Policymakers (SPM), currently out for review. Following this meeting, the authors will produce a final version of the report, as well as an updated draft of the SPM that will be reviewed once more by Governments.
  • October will then see the approval session of the 1.5°C report, the first IPCC report of the cycle. The approval session will take place in time to inform

    Exhibition hall at COP23 in Bonn, Germany (November 2017). Credit: M. Ferrat.

    discussions and negotiations at the Talanoa Dialogue of the 24th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24). At this critical meeting, Parties to the UNFCCC will participate in a facilitative dialogue on the collective efforts in relation to progress towards the goal of the Paris Agreement. IPCC has an important role to play in that dialogue.

These are but a few of the big milestones of the year, so we have a lot of work to do.

But 2018 is also a year of celebration as the IPCC turns 30. In 1988, the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation established the IPCC.

First Session of IPCC. Credit: IPCC.

For 30 years, it has provided policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

We hope that this year, and this cycle, will continue to do so and be more relevant than ever.

Jim Skea and P.R. Shukla, Co-Chairs of IPCC Working Group III

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