“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, quoted his countryman, Mahatma Gandhi, in welcoming the delegates to the final session of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) cycle. The IPCC counts among its victories, certainly, winning a share of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
The long AR5 cycle that began with a scoping session in July of 2009 ended yesterday in the presentation of the Synthesis Report. The report on the physical science came out in September last year, on impacts and adaptation in March this year, and on mitigation of climate change a month later. The Synthesis Report “distils and integrates the findings of the three working group contributions to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report…”
One critical conclusion, as Pachauri, quoted in the press release from yesterday, notes, is that “The solutions are many and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change.” (This echoes, I daresay, what Bill McKibben said about my book: that it “…makes clear that we lack neither the technology nor the policy necessary to deal with global warming, merely the political will. And that, happily, we can create if we want!”)
That message – that we need to push hard to bring more and more of these solutions into being – could not be more clear. It is embodied in the hard and selfless work of the hundreds of scientists, engineers, economists, sustainability practitioners and policy makers who have assembled not only the voluminous, exhaustive analyses of the AR5 but those of special reports from the IPCC like the the ones on renewables and on adaptation. Beyond these, of course, there are the thousands of other dedicated souls whose findings underlie the assessment and special reports of the IPCC.
You can see a useful and interesting Presentation on the Synthesis Report and/or if you want to see the concluding press conference, it’s here: