IPCC’s 33rd Session Establishes Executive Committee, Accepts Summary for Policy Makers of SRREN

13 May 2011: The 33rd session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has decided to establish an Executive Committee, adopted a Conflict of Interest Policy, and introduced several changes to its rules of procedure. IPCC 33 also accepted the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) of the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) approved by Working Group III.

IPCC 33 took place from 9-13 May 2011, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and focused primarily on the work of the four Task Groups resulting from the consideration of the InterAcademy Council (IAC) Review of the IPCC processes and procedures. These Task Groups focused on: procedures; governance and management; conflict of interest policy; and communications strategy. In addition to the decisions noted above, the Panel addressed issues such as the programme and budget, and matters related to other international bodies. Progress reports were delivered on: the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) by each of the three working groups; the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX); the Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TFICA); the Development of New Scenarios; and the IPCC Scholarship Programme.

The decision on IPCC Process and Procedures addresses: the sources of data and literature; the handling the full range of views; the quality of the review; the confidentiality of draft reports; the procedure for handling potential errors; and the evaluation of evidence and treatment of uncertainty. The Panel further decided to extend the mandate of the Task Group on Procedures to address, inter alia: relevant inconsistencies in current procedures; selection of participants to IPCC workshops and expert meetings; matters related to transparency, quality and efficiency of the review process; anonymous expert review; and SPM approval sessions.

With respect to Governance and Management, the Panel decided on several issues. On the Executive Committee, the Panel, among others, established an Executive Committee with the purpose to strengthen and facilitate implementation of the IPCC Programme of Work and advise the Bureau. On terms of office, the Panel decided, inter alia, to restrict the term of office to one term for the IPCC Chair, Vice Chairs and WG and TFI Co-Chairs, with the provision of a possible nomination for re-election for one further term in the same office if the Panel so decides. On the creation of an “Executive Director,” the Panel decided, among others, that the Head of the IPCC Secretariat should continue to be an appointed position and not elected, with its functions remaining largely as presently defined.

On the ToR for the Bureau, the Panel, among others, decided: to define the purpose of the Bureau as to, inter alia, provide guidance to the Panel on scientific and technical aspects, advise on management and strategic issues, and take decisions on specific issues within its mandate; that the Bureau will advise the IPCC Chair on issues including conduct of the IPCC sessions, application of IPCC principles and procedures, and technical or scientific communication matters; and that the Bureau will also take decisions on scientific issues relating to the drafting of reports, oversee the implementation of the communications strategy, and review requests for observer organizations. The Panel further decided to extend the mandate of the Task Group, with open participation, and to elaborate ToR of the Secretariat for consideration at IPCC 34.

In its decision on the Conflict of Interest Policy, the Panel, inter alia, adopted an IPCC Conflict of Interest Policy and extended the mandate of the Task Group on Conflict of Interest Policy in order to develop proposals for Annexes to the Policy covering Implementation and the Disclosure Form.

In its decision on a Communications Strategy, the Panel: accepted the “Guidance on IPCC Communications Strategy;” and requested the Secretariat to elaborate an IPCC Communications Strategy in line with the Guidance, and to deliver the Strategy, accompanied by an analysis of financial implications, for approval at IPCC 34. The Guidance on IPCC Communications Strategy, among others, establishes a set of principles, including being: objective and transparent; policy-relevant but not prescriptive; drawn from IPCC reports; recognizing IPCC as a unique organization; and timely and audience-appropriate. It also defines the scope of overall IPCC communications, defines the target audiences, addresses the languages of communication, establishes the limits of IPCC communication, and provides guidelines for, among others: spokesperson representation and selection; rapid response; errors; and media training.

Prior to IPCC 33, the 11th session of WG III met from 5-8 May 2011, at the same venue, and approved the SPM of the SRREN. Discussions focused, inter alia, on chapters addressing sustainable development, biomass and policy. Key findings of the SRREN include that the technical potential for renewable energies is substantially higher than projected future energy demand, and that renewable energies play a crucial role in all mitigation scenarios. IPCC 34 will be held on 18-19 November 2011, in East Africa, back-to-back with the Joint WGI/WGII meeting on the SREX on 14-17 November 2011. [IISD RS Coverage of IPCC 33] [IPCC Press Release]