Top scientists call for annual UN climate report to keep policy on track

A group of prominent climate scientists is calling for the United Nations Climate Panel to provide annual updates on climate change and climate action. That, they say, would be more effective in keeping the issue high on the political agenda.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third part of its sixth report on the causes, consequences and solutions of the climate crisis last week.

Every six to seven years

The three-part analysis shows a bleak picture The “categorical” role of human society in causing climate change and the “increasing and irreversible losses”. It also describes how governments, with the right policies, can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve global climate goals.

“I’m not suggesting that there should be a full report every year, but the IPCC could come out every year to say our position.”

Science plays a vital role in providing evidence-based advice and informing decision makers. Corinne Le Kerry, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia and former author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said at a climate conference at the Royal Society in London on Monday.

However, these huge reports are published every six to seven years due to the time it takes to study, review and compile the scientific literature. The next is not planned until 2028. So that would be too late to build upon the course correction, which may be necessary to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goals for this critical decade.

Explosion of scientific literature

“The IPCC comes and goes for six or seven years and then comes back… It’s not helpful,” Le Quéré said. Now that the scientific literature is “exploding”, the IPCC has a role to play in “bridging the knowledge gap to 2028,” she believes.

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On average, ten scientific papers are published each day on the interaction between climate change and precipitation. Two appear a day when it comes to the consequences of wildfires. “And that includes weekends and holidays,” Kerry said at the meeting. According to her, this indicates that techniques such as machine learning A literature review will be required for the next round of the IPCC.

Existing indicators such as the carbon budget, global average temperatures, costs of solutions such as renewable technologies and batteries, and climate impact assessments can be published without the need for a comprehensive literature review.

“I’m not suggesting there should be a full report every year, but the IPCC could come out every year to say our position,” she explained.

carbon budget

Le Quéré’s research focuses on the interaction between climate change and the carbon cycle, particularly in the oceans. Co-author of the Third, Fourth and Fifth Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. She was also the driving force behind the annual publication of global carbon budgetwhich assesses emissions each year and monitors the remainder of the global carbon budget.

As an intergovernmental body, the IPCC may request a mandate from member states to prepare annual reports.

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While some well-established climate indicators, such as the carbon budget, are already updated annually by scientists, the process for doing so is “chaotic” and receives less media coverage than the IPCC, she says.

Le Quéré hopes that annual updates on some of the key climate indicators and society’s response to them will better inform policymakers about the planet’s trajectory. As a climate advisor to the French and British governments, she knows what can get policymakers excited.

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New technologies and digital platforms can also be used to share knowledge and facilitate access to the latest science. “I would like to see the IPCC move in that direction,” she says.

As an intergovernmental body, the IPCC may request a mandate from member states to prepare annual reports. Le Quéré and like-minded scientists are exploring whether a country could sponsor the proposal at COP27 climate talks in November in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, or at the United Nations General Assembly. “The initiative is still in its early stages,” she said.

This article originally appeared on IPS Partner Key Climate News

Megan Vasquez

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