Papers of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

From the collections of Harvard Library

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Background

Jointly established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) prepares comprehensive and up-to-date assessments of policy-relevant scientific, technical, and socio-economic information relevant for understanding the scientific basis of climate change, potential impacts, and options for mitigation and adaptation.

The IPCC was established to provide policymakers and other stakeholders with an objective source of information about climate change. The IPCC neither conducts research nor does it monitor climate-related data or parameters. Its role is to assess on a comprehensive and transparent basis the latest scientific, technical, and socio-economic literature produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. IPCC reports are neutral with respect to policy, although they do deal objectively with policy-relevant scientific, technical, and socio-economic factors. Products are characterized by an extensive and open review process involving scientific/technical experts and governments before being accepted by the IPCC. Assessments have achieved the highest standard of scientific integrity, and the Panel was recognized in 2007 with award of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The IPCC provides its reports at regular intervals and they immediately become standard works of reference, widely used by policymakers, experts, and students. The findings of the first IPCC Assessment Report of 1990 played a decisive role in leading to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The IPCC continues to be a major source of information for the negotiations under the UNFCCC.

The U.S. Government has been actively engaged in the IPCC process since its inception, hosting Technical Support Units (TSUs) that provide scientific, technical, and administrative services in direct support of elected U.S. Working Group Co-Chairs and their developing country counterparts.

The IPCC Collection spans the Second through Fifth Assessment Report cycles; the First Assessment Report was generated via a different mechanism, and no records were maintained by a dedicated TSU.

This web site provides access to digital records compiled and consolidated by the U.S.-hosted Working Groups for the following cycles:

Refer to the IPCC Secretariat web site (ipcc.ch) for the rules and procedures governing the process, including innovations intended to enhance openness and transparency.

To the extent possible, given evolution of the process, a uniform set of files has been captured on assessment-specific pages. Additional records—hardcopy and digital—are also part of the IPCC Collection maintained at the Environmental Science and Public Policy Archives, Harvard Library.

Research Assistance

Environmental Research Librarian George E. Clark is available for research assistance via e-mail.