Yesterday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Summary for Policymakers (PDF) for the Synthesis Report of the Fourth Assessment Review. That’s what the impenetrable ‘IPCC 4AR SPM’ signifies.

To clarify what that really means, it must be understood that there are a number of levels to the work of the IPCC. Every few years, there is an assessment review meant to evaluate the state of published scientific literature on climate change. The first was in 1990. Subsequent reports have been released in 1995, 2001, and 2007. Each report consists of contributions from three working groups. Each working group writes a report, and each of those reports includes a Summary for Policymakers (SPM). The three working group reports are also combined into a synthesis report, which gets an SPM of its own. That’s what came out yesterday for the Fourth Assessment Review. Each of these reports is negotiated by scientists and approved by the IPCC member states. The SPMs are hashed out by government representatives line by line. That’s what the meeting that just ended in Valencia was about.

The Fourth Assessment Review has examined far more studies than the Third Assessment Review did: 577 compared to 95. Partly on account of that, it marks a big step forward in scientific certainty about the issue. As piles of media coverage stresses, the news isn’t good.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

14 thoughts on “IPCC 4AR SPM”

  1. “After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say ‘I want to see the manager.'”

    William S. Burroughs

  2. In Ottawa, federal Environment Minister John Baird sounded some of same urgent notes in his response to the IPCC’s report, describing it as powerful and overwhelming.

    “The science is clear and Canada, like the rest of the world, needs to take immediate action on climate change.”

    But his critics say Mr. Baird has learned how to say the right things about climate change, but not how to do anything meaningful about it. They say the Conservatives’ plan – which aims to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 – has so many loopholes it will fall far short of that goal, and far short of what is needed to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.

    They worry that Canada will quietly try to undermine any proposals to dramatically curb emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.

    John Bennett, with the group ClimateforChange.ca, says he expects Canada will be “quietly obstructionist and publicly supportive.”


  3. Pingback: Climate Cover-Up

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