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IPCC UPSC NOTE

 IPCC – Overview

  • The IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. 

  • Established1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

  • Objective: To provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change.

Focus area

  • The science behind climate change and human influence.

    • Potential impacts and future risks of climate change.

  • Options for adaptation and mitigation strategies.

  • Membership195 member governments (all UN or WMO members).

Functioning:

  • Doesn't conduct its own research.

  • Relies on thousands of volunteer experts who assess existing scientific publications.

  • Produces comprehensive Assessment Reports, Special Reports on specific topics, and Methodology Reports.

Importance:

  • IPCC reports are a key source of information for international climate change negotiations.

  • Provide governments with the scientific basis for developing climate policies.

  • The IPCC plays a critical role in raising awareness and providing the scientific foundation for global action on climate change.

What underpins mitigation action in assessment reports by the UN IPCC?

  • The core principle is to reduce human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases. 

  • Primarily carbon dioxide, to lessen the severity of climate change. 

  • IPCC reports assess various pathways to achieve this, like transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

  • The IPCC uses different scenarios that depict potential future climate conditions based on varying levels of greenhouse gas emissions. 

  • These scenarios help policymakers understand the consequences of different mitigation actions.

  • Technological innovations play a crucial role in achieving deep emission cuts

  • IPCC reports assess the potential of existing and emerging technologies for reducing emissions across various sectors like energy, industry, and transportation.

  • Mitigation strategies need to be economically and socially viable

  • The IPCC acknowledges the need for a just transition that considers economic development and potential job losses in high-emitting sectors.

  • While mitigation focuses on reducing emissions, adaptation strategies are crucial for dealing with the inevitable impacts of climate change. 

  • The IPCC recognizes that both approaches are necessary.

What are Integrated Assessment Models?

  • In IPCC reports, Integrated Assessment Models are powerful tools used to simulate the complex interactions between human and Earth systems in the context of climate change

  • IAMs are complex computer models that integrate knowledge from various disciplines like economics, sociology, physics, and climate science.

    • IAMs project future scenarios based on assumptions about economic growth, technological advancements, population changes, and climate policies.

    • They estimate the potential consequences of these scenarios on factors like greenhouse gas emissions, global temperature rise, economic impacts, and land-use changes.

  • By simulating different mitigation pathways (like carbon taxes or investments in renewables),

  • IAMs help policymakers understand how different actions can influence emissions and achieve climate goals.

  • They can assess the economic feasibility and potential trade-offs of various mitigation strategies.

Limitations

  • IAMs rely on a lot of assumptions.

  • Their accuracy depends on the quality of the data fed into them.

  • They may not fully capture all the complexities of the real world, such as social and political dynamics.

Do these models follow the principle of equity?

  • Equity is a complex issue in the context of IAMs used by the IPCC.

Equity Issues in IAMs:

  • Developed countries have historically emitted a larger share of greenhouse gases

  • IAMs might not fully account for this when modeling future mitigation burdens.

  • Developing countries often require economic growth to improve living standards

  • IAMs might not adequately consider the need for sustainable development pathways that balance emissions reductions with growth.

  • Climate change impacts developing countries more severely despite their lower historical emissions. 

  • IAMs might not fully capture these unequal vulnerabilities.

Efforts to Address Equity:

  • IPCC reports present various scenarios that explore different assumptions about equity.

  • Some scenarios consider more equitable distribution of mitigation efforts.

  • The IPCC increasingly emphasizes the need for mitigation strategies that align with sustainable development goals, which can benefit developing countries.

  • IAMs may explore scenarios where developed countries assist developing countries with clean technologies, fostering a more equitable transition.

Limitations and Challenges:

  • Data on economic development, poverty levels, and vulnerabilities in developing countries can be limited, making it difficult to model equitable solutions accurately.

  • IAMs are technical tools, but political realities play a significant role in implementing equitable mitigation strategies.

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