The origin of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC

One reason for the quiet dismissal of the Advisory Group of Greenhouse Gases from this scene was the creation of the IPCC. As described by Agrawala, and supported by an interview in this study, the idea of an intergovernmental organization to assess climate change grew out of competition over ownership of the climate issues within the United States, between the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.131 Moreover, global change research was becoming established as an international collaboration in the International Geosphere and Biosphere Programme (IGBP), with US research funders putting major program efforts into such global perspectives on environmental change.132 There were thus people who saw an international climate change assessment as the best way forward. An international assessment would also buy time for the United States in the discussions that UNEP's director general had initiated about a possible climate convention. According to Agrawala's account of the history, neither the WMO nor the United States wanted Tolba to capture climate the way he had ozone depletion.133 An international assessment organized with governmental influence combined several interests in a way that made it feasible to move forward. The eventual design of the IPCC was inspired by the organizational setup for the co-production of science and policy of the GARP, combined with ideas about a comprehensive assessment from the first US climate assessment. Therefore its design included concern for science, impacts, and response options. In contrast to the Villach report, the IPCC was borne out of a political process rather than from an initiative by the science community. Agrawala specifically describes it as political process between the United States and the United Nations. One could see it as the interaction both between existing organizations (mainly UNEP and the WMO competing about ownership over the issue) and actors within the United States with different interests including environment, energy policy, and emerging global change research. By November 1988, the IPCC was up and running and in 1990, it delivered its first comprehensive assessments reports.

130 Bolin, et al., The Greenhouse Effect, e.g. 224-225 (ice albedo), 274 and 160 (ice cores), 165 (methane emission), 308 (monitoring).

131 Agrawala, "Context and Early Origin of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change," 613; Interview Robert Corell, March 24, 2004.

132 Interview Robert Corell, March 24, 2004.

133 Agrawala, "Context and Early Origin of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change," 612.

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