The IPCC, the world’s leading scienti…, err, political body

A new communication handbook for IPCC scientists is published. It is compiled by Climate Outreach and was commissioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group I Technical Support Unit. They want this handbook out “ahead of the IPCC’s 1.5 degrees special report later this year”.


The handbook also comes with a video explaining the 6 principles to help IPCC scientists better communicate their work. They already lost me in the second sentence in that video though:

The facts are there, thanks in great part to the IPCC – the world’s leading scientific body on climate change


As far as I know, the IPCC is NOT a scientific body!

There is no “S” from ‘Scientific” in IPCC. There is however an “I” in it.

The “I” from “Intergovernmental”.

The IPCC is a POLITICAL body, not a scientific body, as is wrongly claimed in this video…

Earlier, I wrote a a post describing this chart and comparing it with their previous chart. This is their infographic describing the the IPCC process:

This is how I would split it up according to the explanation of the IPCC process:

Step Description Type
1 Scoping
“The outline is drafted and developed by experts”. It depends on who those “experts” are, but even if there are scientists among them, then they are working in function of politics.
Political? Mixed?
2 Approval of Outline
The panel approves the outline
3 Nomination of authors
Government and observer organizations nominate the authors.
4 Selection of authors
Bureaux selects the authors. Criteria are not uniquely scientific. For example geographical representation and gender equality are taken into account.
5 Expert review – 1st Order Draft
Authors prepare a 1st draft which is reviewed by experts
6 Government and Expert Review – 2nd Order Draft
The 2nd draft and the 1st draft of the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) is reviewed by governments and experts
7 Final Draft Report and SPM
Authors prepare final drafts of the report and SPM which are sent to governments
8 Government review of final draft SPM
Governments review the final draft SPM in preparation for its approval
9 Approval & Acceptance of Report
Working Group/Panel approves SPMs and accepts reports
10 Publication of Report

The common thread in the process is the political part and it completely dominates the scientific part. There are only two scientific steps, six or seven political steps (depending on the first step being all political or not) and one or two mixed steps. However, the scientific or mixed steps are always in function of politics. For example, the outline is approved (maybe even made) by the governments, as is the nomination of the scientific experts. It is rather unlikely that those scientists will come up with something different from those who nominated them will expect.

To be short: the IPCC is not a scientific body, it is a political body that is using scientists in some steps of their procedures.

That is not a small difference.


3 thoughts on “The IPCC, the world’s leading scienti…, err, political body

  1. vuurklip

    Here are two excellent exposés of the workings of the IPCC. The author, Donna Laframboise is s Canadian journalist. Here she does not comment on the science as such, but shows in exquisite detail how the IPCC perverts its own rules.



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