First Policies Measures and Instruments

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialized technical agency of the United Nations, called all nations to the First World Climate Conference in 1979 to Geneva, Switzerland. At this conference a World Climate Programme has been initiated, whose research part, the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) got the task to further the understanding of the climate system, in order to answer the question whether there is a human influence on global climate. The International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), now the International Council for Science (with the same acronym), which is a non-governmental organisation, joined WMO in 1980 to launch the WCRP.

7.1.1 The Villach Conferences

In the early 1980s WMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) organized the Conferences in Villach in Austria. The third in 1985 issued for the first time a warning about future global climate change if the use of fossil fuels would continue unabated. Their conclusion culminated in a statement that security related infrastructure would then no longer be adapted to climate variability. In other words: known weather extremes would become more frequent and new ones would emerge, as observed now for some parameters like rain amount per event in many areas.

7.1.2 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

As became obvious with the advent of general circulation models calculating global warming near the surface due to an enhanced greenhouse effect in the 1980s in so-called equilibrium runs for doubled CO2 concentration, an assessment of knowledge on climate change as input information for political decision making was urgently needed. WMO und UNEP therefore formed an intergovernmental body that should be able to give such an authoritative view. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) became right from the beginning in November 1988 such an authoritative voice. Because it was fortunately dominated by leading scientists, who were publishing already in October 1990 the first full assessment report and a summary for policy makers, that set the stage for the later Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). Since then IPCC became through its further regular assessments in 1995, 2001 and 2007 a shining example for proper assessments of knowledge in a science area. As IPCC never intended to give political advice but mere policy-relevant information it was difficult to entrain it into a political debate. IPCC's assessments are used by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) of the United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for political advice to the negotiators (see section 7.2).

Although geographical balance of authors and contributors is sought by IPCC and governments can propose authors and reviewers of chapters IPCC has still managed to attract leading scientists for all working groups. This is fundamental for an in-depth assessment. One of us (H. Grassl) has also been involved deeply until 1995 in the two first assessments and has learned to loose preoccupations during the intense scientific debate in IPCC groups.

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