2. What will a warmer world be like?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an international scientific organization made up of both scientists and government representatives. Its task is to assess and summarize the most recent developments in our knowledge about climate change.
Firstly scientists assess our state of knowledge about climate change. Government representatives from countries all over the world then work with the scientists to simplify and condense the material so that it is useful to policymakers. This means that all countries in the world should have a shared understanding of the climate system based on our most up to date scientific understanding.
The IPCC’s reports form the basis for negotiations on international agreements such as the UNFCCC (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and the Kyoto Protocol (see the next unit).
Roughly every five years the IPCC releases an assessment report with contributions from several different working groups. To date, the most recent is the Third Assessment Report (TAR), which was published in 2001. TAR puts a great deal of emphasis on explaining how certain each of its conclusions is, and whether scientists agree or disagree with them.
The IPCC concludes that global average surface temperatures have increased by 0.6 oC over the last hundred years and that it is “likely” that people have caused most of the warming over the last 50 years by emitting greenhouse gases. They conclude that we are now more certain than ever that human activity contributes significantly to global warming.