The Role of IPCC in Setting Climate Change Policy
This essay will critically evaluate the role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in setting climate change policy. In order to do this, its latest assessment report (IPCC 2007) will be highlighted. The physical science basis of climate change that IPCC relies on in influencing policy on climate change will be reviewed. IPCC's view of climate change will be shown to be the main stream view of climate change. The essay will also review alternative argument on climate change by other scientists such as Svenmark and Calder (2006). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an organization that was established in 1988 by two organizations namely the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) UPI)(IPCC 2008). Its mandate included the assessment of scientific information related to climate change, evaluation of the environmental and socio-economic consequences of climate change and the formulation of realistic response strategies (IPCC, 2007). Based on its mandate, it can be seen that IPCC was to act as the scientific powerhouse to generate evidence based information on climate change that United Nations and other countries and regional bodies will rely on to formulate their climate change policies. Since its formation, IPCC has produced assessment reports (AR) of the scientific evidence related to climate change and formulated response strategies on actions the international community need to take in order to minimize the impact of climate change. It produced the first assessment report (AR 1) in 1990, AR 2 in 1995, AR 3 in 2001 and the latest one AR 4 in 2007. The 2007 report (AR 4) was the most comprehensive of its reports. It was produced in four different volumes and each volume was launched separately at different times throughout 2007 at different locations under the banner ‘Climate Change 2007.’ AR 4 confirms most of the conclusions in its earlier documents including : climate change is due mainly to greenhouse gases notable carbon dioxide which is released into the atmosphere by human activities and responsible for global warming; addressed issues of concern to policy makers in national , regional and multinational agencies; the impact of global warming is real and will continue into the foreseeable future; there is the need for societies to adapt to reduce vulnerability and an analysis of the costs, policies and technology required to minimize the impact of climate change. It claimed that its AR 4 report was produced by 500 lead authors and reviewed by 2000 expert reviewers. There is no doubt that IPCC in its publications since 1990 has profoundly affected climate change policies at all the different levels of government. Smith and Stern (2010) have argued that IPCC provide the science of climate change and the causes and in the process highlights the risks of the phenomenon. It is the information about the risks that enables national governments to formulate policies to manage the risks either unilaterally or multilaterally. There is an international consensus that the challenges posed by climate change is best handled through multilateral agreement because climate change will affect all the countries of the world irrespective of whether or not they contributed to the problem. Hence the United Nation has played a pivotal role in bringing the nations of the world together for discussions on appropriate strategies based on reports by the IPCC. The Kyoto Protocol and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC can all be traced to the version of the science of climate change by IPCC. In fact the contributions of IPCC have been recognised as highly significant by the Nobel Prize Committee which named it as joint recipient of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. It was a seal of approval for its vital role in influencing the world climate change...
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