IPCC meets in Canada, confronts budget shortfall
By Cathy Orlando
From September 5 to September 11, 2017, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) met in Montreal, Canada for their 46th session since its creation in 1988. The IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. It has 195 member states.
I was an observer at the 46th plenary of the IPCC.
On the agenda were various reports in the works, including the outline for a Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) due out in October 2022. I can confirm that the review of carbon pricing studies will be found in the Working Group III section of AR6 in 2022.
But happily, we will not have to wait until 2022 for the next report. Three reports are in the works, including a 2018 special report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC, and two more special reports in 2019 on the Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and on Climate Change and Land.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Katia, the earthquake in Mexico, as well as the devastating monsoons in Asia loomed over this conference. Often, when delegates spoke in plenary they acknowledged their colleagues in affected countries. Attention to gender imbalance on the panel and inclusion of Indigenous knowledge were also part of the discussions.
I am confident in the integrity of the process and delegates. However, I have a serious concern which I’m sure many people are not aware of: There is a funding shortfall of approximately $6 million for 2018 that is potentially jeopardizing future work of the IPCC because it is prohibited from operating deficit budgets. The funding shortfall is due in part to President Trump suspending funding for the UNFCCC and IPCC in August. The United States has usually contributed approximately a third of the IPCC budget.
On September 7, the US Senate’s Appropriations Committee voted to restore the UNFCCC funding that includes the IPCC commitments. The Senate will now wrangle with the House of Representatives, which sided with Trump on the issue.
Proudly, I can announce that Canada has pledged to double their commitment to the IPCC from approximately $170,000 per year to $340,000 per year (CDN). Patricia Espinosa, head of the UN climate negotiations forum, welcomed the move, tweeting, “Canada’s climate leadership is exemplary!”
That still leaves just under $6 million USD before the IPCC’s budget will be safeguarded.
In June 2017, the world’s leading climate analysts warned that we only have three years left to safeguard our climate. The good news is that it is still possible to meet the Paris temperature goals if emissions begin to fall by 2020 (see “Carbon crunch”).
Governments and civil society, including Citizens’ Climate Lobby, greatly benefit from the work of the IPCC. The IPCC reports are invaluable documents to help all governments make smart, evidence-based decisions for our future. The price tag of $6 million dollars is priceless in comparison to the real world scenarios of mounting climate-related disasters.
What will future generations say if the 195 member states of the IPCC fail to come up with $6 million to support the work of the IPCC? The “I” In “IPCC” stands for intergovernmental. All levels of government, cities, states, provinces, regional and national, must support the IPCC’s work.