IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report

Background - 20 October, 2014
Approximately every six years, the world’s leading climate scientists present world governments with a comprehensive report on climate change. The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) summarises the effects human-induced climate change is having on our planet and our options for taking action.

Raising a Wind Turbine in Durban. 11/26/2011 © Shayne Robinson / Greenpeace

The IPCC is the leading international body for the scientific assessment of climate change. Operating under the United Nations, with 195 governments as its members, the IPCC brings together top climate scientists from around the world to conduct assessments on the latest climate science and to inform governments on decision making.

The IPCC does not conduct research of its own, nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. Rather, by bringing scientists together, the IPCC forms a comprehensive, joint understanding of the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information on climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation. Thousands of scientists and experts contribute to the work of the IPCC as authors, contributors and reviewers on a voluntary basis.

The first IPCC Assessment Report was published in 1990. The 5th Assessment Report will be finalized at the last week of October 2014 in Copenhagen. It’s main content has already been published in three individual parts by working groups (WG I-III):

The fourth, concluding piece, the Synthesis Report (SYR), will bring the story together, with highlights from each Working Group Report. It will be approved at a joint meeting of scientists and government officials on 27th to 31st October 2014 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The final version of SYR AR5 will be published on 2nd November.

For a quick overview of the AR5 Working Group 1-3 findings, see the slide show below.

More background information

The world is fast approaching a 'point of no return' beyond which extremely dangerous climate change impacts can become unavoidable. But it is still not too late to change course. Our 'window of opportunity' is now and up until about 2020. Within this time period, we will have to radically change our approach to energy production and consumption.

  • Climate chaos is not inevitable. Renewable energy and energy efficiency can provide the energy and emissions reductions we need without undesireable side effects. The Greenpeace Energy Revolution provides a blueprint for a reliable global energy supply, which doesn't compromise our climate.
  • The fossil fuel industry continues to plan massive new fossil fuel projects around the world (more on this here), which could push us over the edge. These developments must be stopped.
  • The destruction of the world's forests is responsible for up to a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions - more than every plane, car, truck, ship and train on the planet combined. Our forest solutions stories from around the world provide tangible solutions to global forest management issues.
  • The burning of fossil fuels is causing our oceans to acidify at a rate, which is likely the fastest in Earth’s history. Ocean acidification threatens marine life, which is already under stress due to warming waters, reduced levels of oxygen and overfishing. More on this here.
  • Our food system must be adapted to changing climatic conditions and increasingly limited resources. Ecological farming practices help farmers increase production whilst simultaneously protecting and enhancing soil quality, protecting water resources and biodiversity, and mitigating climate change.