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Trends in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

2012-08-17

Under a commission by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, RESTEC is currently engaged in the survey of research trends in Japan and overseas in relation to the first working group (WG1) (*1) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as the operation of the WG1 support secretariat in Japan.

IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It comprises scientists that are recommended by the governments of the respective countries, who carry out scientific, technological and socioeconomic assessments of global warming accompanying the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide emissions. The aim of the program is to allow policy makers and members of the public to make use of the results of the assessments. To date, the Panel has summarized the latest scientific information gained into assessment reports four times. In particular, the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) released in 2007 provided assessments and reports on many important issues. The Panel pointed out that there was no doubt that the climate system was heating up, and concluded that the cause of global warming could very likely be attributed to greenhouse gases produced by human beings. The Panel also pointed out that the impact of global warming was already beginning to emerge in various forms, but reported that mitigation measures such as efforts to reduce greenhouse gases in the next 20 to 30 years would be beneficial. IPCC activities have also been acknowledged in the form of the Nobel Peace Prize. Currently, the Panel is engaged in drawing up the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) scheduled for publication between 2013 and 2014.

Toward the active contribution of Japan to IPCC, AR5, and WG1, RESTEC has developed a system through this commission. Besides providing support for WG1 researchers in Japan, it also aims to play a central role in disseminating information from the research community to policy makers in the government, as well as to general members of the public.

(*1) As part of the organization involved in the preparation of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), three working groups (1 to 3) and an Inventory Task Force (operating committee involved in plans pertaining to the inventory of greenhouse gas emission and absorption volumes for the respective countries) have been established. The themes for each working group are as follows: WG1 Natural scientific basis; WG2 Impact, adaptation, and vulnerability; and WG3 Mitigation (measures). Based on the schedule for the production of AR5, WG1 is scheduled to complete its report in 2013, WG2 and WG3 are scheduled to complete their reports in 2014, and the Synthesis Report (SYR) is scheduled to be completed in the same year in 2014.