Our Founder, Professor Terry Barker, has co-authored a paper in Nature NPJ Climate Action about the role of the IPCC in policymaking.

The paper focusses on how the IPCC’s Working Group III (on mitigation) feeds into the policy debate, and explores a pathway for the IPCC to cater to a more diverse range of policies and build capacity for practical climate policymaking.

In total, the authors identify four critical issues that should be addressed by the IPCC in order to increase it’s relevance with policymakers:

  1. The IPCC’s scenario process is policy-prescriptive, despite aiming not to be. This approach has led to the promotion of a one-size-fits-all policy prescription for carbon pricing that lacks essential detail. Further, it impedes the IPCC’s ability to inform practical climate policy design, as it essentially suggests that none is needed.
  2. The IPCC’s scenario process attempts to set standardised policy narratives, rather than addressing the heterogenous practical needs in addressing climate change of the policy community worldwide.
  3. The needs of the policy community evolve, and do not necessarily stick to the narratives within the IPCC’s scenario analysis. As a result, the scenario analysis risks being seen as academic and impractical.
  4. The IPCC process is discrete rather than continuous. It offers insights just twice per decade, reviews insights that may ne outdated, and is based on a timescale that is likely more suitable for climatology than policy analysis.

Close links between the IPCC and IAM groups has reinforced this position and has resulted in a set of models with limited real-world policy capabilities. There are, however, alternative modelling approaches (that are mostly detached from the IPCC) that can answer some of policymakers’ key questions.

One of the most important practical contributions the global community of climate experts can provide is building capacity for practical climate policymaking. In a new iteration, the IPCC could address this need – but it would require the rethinking of multiple aspects of the IPCC’s WGIII scenario process.

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Access the full article online here.

Pollitt, H., Mercure, J.F., Barker, T., Salas, P. and Scrieciu, S. (2024). The role of the IPCC in assessing actionable evidence for climate policymaking. npj Climate Action, 3(1), p.11.