IPCC Session elects Bureau for Sixth Assessment Report

The 42nd Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) closed on Thursday (Oct. 8) in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Key issue in the Agenda was the election of the IPCC’s new Bureau. The meeting has also covered issues ranging from the development of the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) cycle to procedural matters and budget adjustments. Discussions on the UNFCCC and the forthcoming COP21 were also carried out by the delegates.

On  Tuesday (Oct. 6) Hoesung Lee, from the Republic of Korea, was appointed as new Chair. He is the fourth scientist to lead the IPCC following Rajendra Pachauri, who stepped down in February 2015.

Lee, aged 69, is professor in the Economics of Climate Change, Energy and Sustainable Development at Korea University’s Graduate School of Energy and Environment. He dedicated himself to the IPCC since 1992 in various functions,  including Co-Chair (Working Group III) and IPCC Vice-Chair.

He was elected by 78 votes to 56 in a run-off with Jean-Pascale van Ypersele (Belgium). A total of six candidates had been nominated for the position, the other four being: Ogunlade Davidson (Sierra Leone), Chris Field (United States of America), Nebojsa Nakicenovic (Austria and Montenegro) and Thomas Stocker (Switzerland).

In the two following days, delegates elected the full new Bureau, composed by three Vice-Chairs, eight Working Group and Task Force Bureau Co-Chairs and twenty two Working Group Vice-Chairs, for a total of 34 members – up from 31 of the previous board.


IPCC Bureau 42nd Session 2015

Activities to be carried out by the Bureau will cover a wide range of issues. The Task Group on IPCC Future Work begun a review process in 2013 and indentified three main challenges for IPCC’s next stages: the development of future products of the IPCC, the structure and modus operandi to provide such products and the ways to enhance the participation and contribution of developing countries.

In this direction, the IPCC agreed in February on a set of decisions concerning the accessibility of its reports and developing countries involvement.

One week before the Session, an article published on Science (titled: ‘The IPCC at a crossroads: Opportunities for reform’) analysed the role of the new IPCC leadership. Some of the recommendations include identifying questions relevant to policy-makers, especially in the scoping process of its AR6 and enhancing interactions between policy-makers, scientists, and other stakeholders during the AR6 writing process. In line with the Task Group, the authors advocate for a more adequate representation of developing countries perspectives.

In a document released to support its candidacy, the new Chair suggested some solutions to these issues. For instance, in order to make countries’ participation more uniform, he envisaged identifying and networking local centers of excellence in developing countries. Lee also recognized the need of incorporating inputs from the business, industry and finance to increase IPCC’s policy relevance and neutrality. Finally, he remarked the importance of considering climate change in relation to job creation, health, energy access and poverty alleviation as well as technology innovation and development.

“The next phase of our work will see us increase our understanding of regional impacts, especially in developing countries, and improve the way we communicate our findings to the public”, Hoesung Lee said in the official statement. On the new Bureau, he commented that it is a “strong and diverse body, drawing on the richness and expertise of all the IPCC’s regions”.

The next Session of the IPCC will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, on 11-15 April, 2016.