Category: TSU

Inside the Technical Support Unit: an interview with Shreya Some

Shreya Some, Scientist in the WG III Technical Support Unit (TSU), talks about the responsibilities of the TSUs, joining the WG III unit, and work in the time of COVID-19.

Shreya Some is a Scientist in the IPCC WG III TSU and is based in Kolkata, India. Her research interests include emission trend analysis, sustainability and co-benefits analysis of various adaptation and mitigation options. She has a Masters degree in Economics from Jadavpur University, 2015.

She has worked as a Contributing Author in Chapter 5 of the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming 1.5°C and World Resources Insitute Ocean Report. Prior to joining IPCC, for a short while, she has worked as a Business Analyst with Wipro Technologies (India) and was a Summer Intern at Reserve Bank of India (Kolkata).

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What is your background and expertise?

Hi! I am Shreya Some from Kolkata, West Bengal (the artistic and cultural capital of India). I’m an economist by training. My research interests broadly include analysing the additional socio-economic and development related benefits and costs of taking climate actions (actions that help to adapt to and prevent further climate change). This benefit-cost analysis basically helps in policy prioritization for a sustainable future. I am very passionate about reducing emissions from the agricultural system and a transition, to something more sustainable, in a fair way for all, especially supporting those marginalised workers/farmers engaged in the agricultural system who must shift their ways for their better future.

What were you doing before you arrived at the WG III TSU?

I was in the last year of my Ph.D. working on the economics of emission mitigation from Indian agriculture and was about to give my pre-submission seminar (which got postponed due to Covid-19) at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. I was also an exchange scholar (UGC-DAAD- 2019-21) at TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany working on sustainability of CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) projects in India.

As I was about to submit my Ph.D. thesis, I was looking for post-doc/ research opportunities in the field of climate change. The advertisement for an IPCC TSU member looked promising and I applied for it. I was interested in IPCC work because during my Ph.D. days, I assisted Prof. Joyashree Roy (Coordinating Lead Author) on the IPCC SR 1.5 report as a Contributing Author.

For people who aren’t familiar with the IPCC, can you explain what the TSU does?

The TSU (Technical Support Unit) has a lot on its plate! It primarily provides support to the IPCC co-chairs and vice-chairs to prepare IPCC reports.

Firstly, it provides scientific support. TSU members can provide scientific research inputs as Contributing Authors or Lead Authors in different Chapters of the report. They also prepare technical papers and Supplementary Materials as and when required. I am a Contributing Author on the WG II report, Drafting author of the WG III-Summary for Policymakers and Lead Author on the WG III- Technical Summary, for the AR6 report.

Secondly, it provides technical support. The TSU does the final checks (editing, formatting and sometimes providing scientific inputs) before the Chapters go for several stages of review. It helps to support the preparation of figures/exhibits.

Finally, it provides organisational support. This is the most crucial part. Large numbers of authors are involved in preparing IPCC reports. Coordination among them is very important. The TSU helps in building coordination among authors by organising meetings (recently e-meetings!)

What is your role in the TSU Science team? What does your day to day look like?

I’m a Scientist in the WG III TSU. I joined the TSU in the latter part of the IPCC AR6 cycle, so my role is to provide final checks of the Chapters before they go for Expert and/or Government Review. I am also involved in preparing the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) and Technical Summary (TS).

Days are not always packed, so I can concentrate on my own research as well. The days before the reports go out for Government Review are somewhat packed but there is no pressure-I do my work at my own pace. Oh also, we have Monday meetings in TSU to catch up where each of us are in our task (given the pandemic- for me Mondays are happy days as I can see my colleagues’ faces—ha ha!)

What has been your favourite thing about the job so far?

The best thing about the job is that I (an early career climate researcher) am getting to learn ‘hot topics’ (relatively new to me) related to the climate by participating in so many e-meetings. Those discussions are very helpful in broadening my knowledge base.

I would also like to mention that for an early career researcher like me it is very important to work in a friendly and very efficient team- I am elated to be a part of AR6 WG III TSU- Thanks to my wonderful London and Ahmedabad Colleagues!!

What are you most looking forward to for the remainder of the AR6 cycle?

I am looking forward to meeting my colleagues physically. Since I’ve joined during the Pandemic lock-down I haven’t actually been to the TSU office in Ahmedabad in person and I haven’t even met my India-TSU colleagues. Besides these, I am looking forward to the final approval session of the report. We are really working very hard!

Do you have any new hobbies this year thanks to the pandemic?

I am suddenly extremely interested in learning about historic literature, mostly related to WW2 and world politics (maybe because I am getting to know more about climate related politics). These have become sort of my new hobbies now. I have also started playing indoor cricket with my mother (and my brother whenever he is home). I love cricket and used to play a lot when I was a kid. So, the pandemic has given me an opportunity to pursue my long lost ‘passion’.

IPCC 6th Assessment Report: Working Group III selects its authors

The countdown begins for the IPCC 6th Assessment Report! Renée van Diemen, scientist in the Working Group III Technical Support Unit, talks about the scientists who will draft the Working Group III contribution, how they were selected and how else to get involved with the IPCC during this cycle.

Last month, the IPCC published the list of authors who will be writing its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), the next comprehensive assessment of the science related to climate change. 721 experts from 90 countries will soon get started on this work. Out of these, 228 will focus on the contribution of Working Group III. These experts from around the world will be volunteering their time and expertise to assess the knowledge relevant to the mitigation of climate change.

For each of the 17 chapters of the Working Group III contribution to AR6 the carefully selected author teams will work together to assess the state of knowledge relevant to topics such as transport, cities, industry or social aspects of mitigation. Here at the Working Group III Technical Support Unit, we are really excited at the prospect of working with such an incredible range of experts during the production of the AR6.

How were authors selected?

The author teams of the Working Group III contribution to the AR6 were selected by the IPCC Working Group III Bureau, with support from the Technical Support Unit. The Bureau is the scientific leadership of each Working Group and of the IPCC as a whole, elected by governments at the start of each new IPCC cycle. Over the course of three months, the Working Group III Bureau carefully considered 873 AR6 author nominations from Governments, Observer Organisations and IPCC Bureau Members.

P.R. Shukla and Jim Skea, Co-Chairs of Working Group III. Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera

One of the most important underlying principles of the IPCC is that its assessments are comprehensive and objective.  All IPCC reports seek to reflect internationally agreed scientific consensus and be free from bias. Therefore, when author teams are selected, care and attention is given to ensuring that the author teams are composed of a diverse range of experts representing different geographical regions, a variety of relevant specialist disciplines as well as ensuring that author teams are balanced in terms of gender and ensuring that the teams are adequately inclusive of experts who do not have previous IPCC experience.

To select authors, the Bureau developed an iterative process to ensure that the author teams were composed of a range of scientific, technical and socio-economic views and expertise, taking into account all the IPCC balance considerations. Each individual author nomination was carefully considered in a series of international web conferences between the Bureau members. To make the final selection, the Bureau met in Geneva, Switzerland, from 29-30 January 2018.

The Working Group III Bureau finalises the selection of authors in Geneva (January 2018).

What are the different author roles?

In total, 228 authors from 63 countries will contribute to the WG III AR6 report, but they will not all play the same role.

Each of the 17 chapters is composed of Coordinating Lead Authors (CLAs) and 7 to 15 Lead Authors (LAs). As a collective, authors are responsible for the contents of the chapter. They will be in charge of drafting specific sections of each chapter based on their area of expertise. The CLAs oversee this process and are responsible for the coordination of the chapters, so the Bureau paid attention not only to scientific excellence, but also to the qualities of leadership required to lead multidisciplinary and international chapter teams.

Together, these authors will produce two drafts of the report that will go out for an external review, the first one by experts and the second by both experts and governments. All the comments made during the review period are collected and must be addressed by the author teams when they produce their next draft. To support this process, each chapter also has at least two Review Editors. The role of Review Editors is to ensure that comments from the review process are taken into consideration by the team.

Watch AR5 experts talk about what it means to be an IPCC author.

What’s next for the authors?

Authors are from all around the world, so their work involves a mixture of online and physical meetings. The latter, called Lead Author Meetings, or LAMs, happen four times in the production of an IPCC report. Working Group III authors will meet at the first Lead Author Meeting in April 2019 and will be working together until the approval of the report in 2021.

I’m not an author… are there other ways to get involved in AR6?

Yes! Although the author teams for the Working Group III contribution to the AR6 have been selected, there are a number of other ways to get involved with AR6 and the IPCC more broadly.

As author teams develop the content of their chapter, they may also draw on other experts. Each cycle, hundreds of Contributing Authors provide specific knowledge or expertise in a given area. This could be in the form of a short section of text, figures or graphs, or data. Contributing Authors are important for ensuring that the full range of views in the scientific community is reflected in the report. Contributing Authors do not attend author meetings, but they fill gaps in expertise and are acknowledged in the final publication. Contributions may be enlisted by the CLAs and LAs of the author teams, although the IPCC also encourages unsolicited contributions. As the writing process is naturally dynamic, this can occur at different stages of the report drafting.

IPCC Coordinating Lead Author Myles Allen, Working Group I Vice-Chair Jan Fuglestvedt and Chapter Scientist Richard Millar working on an IPCC Special Report

Chapters are also often supported by a Chapter Scientist, who provides technical and logistical support to author teams. They can be recruited directly by the CLAs of a specific chapter, or through a call issued by the Technical Support Unit. This is a fantastic opportunity for early career researchers to be at the heart of the IPCC process. Keep an eye out on this blog and the IPCC social media channels for future opportunities.

Are you and early career researcher interested in getting involved with the IPCC? Read more about the different opportunities here.

Finally, anyone with relevant expertise can register to review the first or second draft of an IPCC report. Expert reviewers are crucial to the IPCC process, so look out for announcements and make sure to contribute to the review process. The Expert Reviews of the Working Group III contribution to the AR6 will be in 2019 and 2020.

Interested in the IPCC expert review process? Find out which sections or chapters might be relevant to your area of expertise by looking at the outline of the report.

Click here for more information on the IPCC 6th assessment cycle. The full list of Working Group III AR6 authors and review editors is available on the IPCC website.

If you are interested in regular updates about our activities, subscribe to the IPCC WGIII Newsletter here.

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