IPCC Expert Meeting on Communication

By Rehana Dada

Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held an Expert Meeting in Oslo to discuss strengthening of its communications ahead of the start of the next cycle of reports.

Image above: Current co-chair of Working Group III, Youba Sokona holding the microphone, and behind him, Jean-Pascale van Ypersele who was an IPCC vice chair during the Fifth Assessment Report.

Although the periodic assessment reports and the accompanying policy makers’ summaries have proven invaluable over the years, particularly for informing decisions at global level, the IPCC has also been lobbed with criticisms of being too technical and the information being often unreachable.  Criticisms of the political influence on the outcomes are also significant factors, however the IPCC reports still remain the most trusted consensus science reports on climate change.  The assessment reports have improved in accessibility over the decades, with increasing use of info graphics and easy-to-read presentation of information, but the language is often considered still too technical, and in many instances, information provided in the policy makers’ summaries require a pre-existing in depth knowledge of climate science.The IPCC reports are trusted by governments, civil society actors and business in their decisions relating to climate change.  Although their reports and recommendations are often too broad for application at local level, they are nonetheless the most comprehensive assessment of climate change science available at a global scale.

This week’s meeting included about 50 experts representing the full spectrum of society as well as experts who worked on the Fifth Assessment Report and those who are working on the Sixth Assessment Report.  This includes South Africa’s Debra Roberts, who is co-chair of Working Group II (Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability) alongside Germany’s Hans-Otto Pörtner.

We will report further in the March newsletter.