IPCC - the world authority on climate
The IPCC reports are a really big deal for climate change. So what are they? And why should we trust them?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for assessing climate change.
The IPCC was established in 1988 by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation. The aim is to provide the world with a clear scientific review of the current knowledge on climate change.
Every five to seven years, the IPCC produces Assessment Reports. These are the most comprehensive scientific reports about climate change produced worldwide.
What you need to know
Here you can learn about the role of the IPCC reports - and why the gruelling review process makes them the ultimate source of climate change information.
Find out key information by clicking on each heading below:
The IPCC prepares comprehensive Assessment Reports assessing the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaption and mitigation.
Each Assessment Report has fed directly into international climate policymaking. The information is policy-relevant yet policy-neutral, providing a scientific basis for governments at all levels to develop climate-related policies. They also underpin negotiations at the UN Climate Conference - the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The IPCC work is shared among three Working Groups, a Task Force and a Task Group. Each Working Group and Task Force are coordinated and administrated by a Technical Support Unit (TSU).
- Working Group I (WGI) aims at assessing the physical scientific basis of the climate system and climate change.
- Working Group II (WGII) assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change and options for adapting to it.
- Working Group III (WG III) focuses on climate change mitigation, assessing methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Each Working Group Report is comprised of multiple chapters across a range of topics.
The IPCC has also produced a range of reports in response to requests for information on specific scientific and technical matters from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), governments and international organisations.
- Special Reports
- Methodology Reports
- Technical Papers
View the reports
We've provided highlights on the latest reports:
|Starkest warning yet - what our research and latest IPCC (AR6) report reveals||IPCC Special Reports||Our work on the IPCC (AR5) report - the foundation for the Paris Agreement|
The First Assessment Report (FAR) was released in 1990.
Since then, new and updated assessment cycles have been completed every five to seven years.
The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) was the scientific foundation for the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and resulting policies worldwide.
What's the latest report?
The IPCC is now producing the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) with contributions by its three Working Groups. The first instalment of the report by Working Group I (WGI) – the Physical Science Basis was released in August 2021.
The remaining instalments are currently due for release in 2022. They will include the reports from Working Groups II and II, as well as a Synthesis Report.
Sixth Assessment Report
We've provided highlights on the latest report from the IPCC:
Can I read them?
The IPCC reports are released and free to read.
The reports provide the most updated and comprehensive understanding of the climate system and climate change, both now and into the future.
For that reason, they're relevant to everyone - individuals, communities, businesses and all levels of government.
What will I learn?
Each report runs into thousands of pages, representing the full spectrum of human knowledge on climate change.
They also include a 'Summary for Policymakers', which shortens the information into key messages. It is drafted by expert authors but aimed at a general readership, making it the most accessible document to read.
The reports can make for grim reading - but everyone needs to know some aspects of the IPCC's findings to understand what the future might look like and what we can do about it.
So, we've broken down some of the key highlights for you:
|Our work on the IPCC (AR5) - foundation for the Paris Agreement|
|What are we doing about climate change? Our impact on IPCC||The IPCC Special Reports|
The rigorous process for each report produced makes the IPCC the world's most authoritative source of climate change information. Every sentence is powerful because each one has been read and approved by thousands of scientists and government officials from over 195 countries.
The IPCC does not conduct independent research. Instead, it assembles leading climate experts worldwide every five to seven years to synthesise the latest climate research findings from peer reviews and published scientific and technical literature.
Scientists from around the globe volunteer and are selected to review and assess the latest relevant scientific, technical and socio-economic data to understand climate change, its potential impacts and adoptions for adaption and mitigation.
The IPCC aims to reflect a range of views and expertise to publish comprehensive and objective assessments.
Authors and reviewers
Chapter teams for each Working Group are made up of:
- Coordinating Lead Authors
- Lead Authors
- Contributing Authors
- Review Editors
They are exclusively selected from nominations by specialists, governments and organisations worldwide because of their world-leading expertise.
For example, for the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) Working Group I, around 743 experts were selected as Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors and Review Editors from nearly 3,000 nominations.
The composition of teams also aims to reflect a range of scientific, technical and socio-economic views and backgrounds.
Drafts and review
The reports go through multiple stages of drafting and review. In fact, IPCC's multi-stage review and revision process is being used as a model for international assessments of other scientific topics.
Experts worldwide are encouraged to register as reviewers to include a wide range of views, expertise and geographical representation as possible.
For example, the first draft of the latest Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) Working Group I report had more than 23,000 comments from experts. Each comment received an individual response. The second draft had more than 50,000 review comments from experts and governments, which guided the preparation of the final draft.
It's clear the IPCC brings the best of global science together.
We are among the world-leading climate scientists who have made crucial contributions to the IPCC Assessment Reports and the Special Reports, guiding policies around the world.
Dozens of our researchers have had their work cited throughout each report.
In addition, several of our researchers have also been specially selected as Lead Authors, Contributing Authors and Review Editors due to their world-leading expertise.
Find out how our researchers play a vital role in worldwide climate research and action through the IPCC:
One of the most important indicators of the policy relevance of the work of the IPCC is the use of its reports in international climate change negotiations like the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Crucially, this latest IPCC Sixth Assessment report will be used to inform the discussions of world leaders at COP26.
COP26 is our worlds' best chance' for climate action.
Find out why it's so important: