What is the IPCC And Why Does Everyone Talk About It?

If you’ve been reading up about the climate crisis, chances are you’ve read the letters IPCC. And for a good reason, the IPCC and the work it does is crucial to understanding the urgency of the climate crisis.

What does it all mean?

The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It's an international body that assesses all of the climate science. It was established by the UN in 1988 – so it's been around for a while! It also provides policymakers with relevant and up to date scientific understanding of climate change and strategies to tackle it. Of course, solving the climate crisis is no easy task so the IPCC provides information based on varying scenarios. In a nutshell, their role is to inform those who make the big decisions for us - they are the mouthpiece for sharing information – advisors but not decision-makers.

Why do I keep hearing about the IPCC?

Big reports come out about every 6 years from the IPCC. They also do special reports, like the one that came out in October of last year that made a big splash.

They're planning on publishing 3 special reports before the next big report. They've already released one: Global warming of 1.5C. The other two, "Climate Change and Land" and "The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate" are set to be released in August and September this year.

Why did the IPCC decide to do a report on the 1.5C scenario?

Well, after the Paris Agreement that was reached in December of 2015, a lot of major greenhouse-gas emitting countries started trying to limit temperature rise to 1.5C. Past discussions focused on keeping the temperature increase below 2C, so this means that countries have increased their ambitions. The IPCC was asked to produce a special report to gather all the scientific knowledge around this new goal.

It's important because it means that policymakers have the information in their hands to help create the change we so desperately need. It means there are hundreds of scientists that acknowledge the reality of climate change and want to give us advice!

In a speech to members of the English Parliament, Greta Thunberg said

"These projections are backed up by scientific facts, concluded by all nations through the IPCC. Nearly every single major national scientific body around the world unreservedly supports the work and findings of the IPCC."

Some countries are listening and others are not, but we need everyone to listen in order to cut emissions in time, to keep from hitting the 1.5 mark.

If you're curious about what policies they discuss or want information that breaks down environmental jargon, check out these resources from the IPCC website.

By Haiden Lancaster

Haiden Lancaster is an American college student pursuing a sustainable lifestyle. Whether it's climbing a mountain in Tasmania, studying architecture in Paris or just spending time in the garden, she's always on the lookout for better ways to be a friend to the environment.

Read next: What Australia Has To Do To Meet the IPCC Report

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