February 28, 2007
GCRIO Program Overview
Our extensive collection of documents.
Archives of the
Global Climate Change Digest
A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 3, NUMBER 10, OCTOBER 1990
IPCC HAMMERS OUT REPORT
Representatives of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) did approve its First Assessment Report,
but the task was not easy. The document consists of an Overview, the
Policymaker Summaries of the three IPCC working groups and of the
Special Committee on the Participation of Developing Countries, and the full
reports of the working groups. Agreement came on August 31, 1990, at a meeting
in Sundsvall, Sweden, after long bargaining sessions which many participants
feared would be fruitless. A summary drafted by Swedish meteorologist Bert Bolin
(IPCC chairman) was abandoned; the final overview was assembled from portions of
the working group reports.
There was little disagreement on the topics of the first two working groups,
Scientific Assessment and Impacts. Several individuals quoted in the articles
listed below consider the most significant outcome of the IPCC report to be a
scientific consensus that global warming is a problem. Most contentious were
negotiations on the Response Policy working group report, involving such topics
as a timetable for greenhouse gas reductions, and technology transfer and
related financing. According to Intl. Environ. Rptr. (p. 365, Sep. 12),
the meeting became so difficult at one point that Bolin considered adjournment.
But UNEP director Mostafa Tolba insisted by phone from Geneva that the process
be completed so the IPCC report would be ready for consideration at the Second
World Climate Conference in November.
The response strategies section of the final overview discusses policy
options and criteria for establishing their priorities, but makes no
recommendations for specific options or a timetable for their implementation,
desired by some during the negotiations. Instead, it calls for international
negotiations to start as quickly as possible after presentation of the
assessment at the November climate conference. Key issues for those negotiations
will include the criteria, timing, legal form and incidence of any obligations
to control net emissions of greenhouse gases; how to equitably address the
consequences for all; required institutional mechanisms including research and
monitoring; and the requests of the developing countries for financial aid for
The product of the Sundsvall meeting, IPCC First Assessment Report
Overview (20 pp.), is available from the UNEP North American Office (Rm.
DC-2-0803, United Nations, New York NY 10017; 212-963-8093) for $5. The policy
maker summaries of the three working groups (roughly 40 pages each) are $7.95
each or $20 for all three. These documents are also available from the Geneva
IPCC Secretariat (41 Ave. Giuseppe-Motta, 1211 Geneva 20, Switz.; tel:
41-22-7308-235). Cambridge University Press has just published the complete
Working Group 1 report, Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment
(364 pages). The Spring 1990 issue of Climate Alert, the quarterly
newsletter of the Climate Institute (316 Penn. Ave. SE, S. 403, Washington DC
20003; 202-547-0104), contains articles on the evolution of two of the working
group reports ("Firm Consensus Eludes IPCC Response Strategies Group,"
p. 11; "Moscow IPCC Impacts Meeting Adopts Strong Report," p. 12). See
"Big Step Taken Toward Global Emissions Treaty," D. O'Sullivan,
Chem. Eng. News, p. 6, Sep. 10, 1990.
"Model-Makers Defend Consensus on Climate," D. MacKenzie, J.
Kerwin, New Scientist, p. 29, Sep. 8. At Sundsvall, Japanese delegates
said plans will be announced soon to stabilize Japan's greenhouse gas emissions
at 10 percent above current levels by the year 2000. New Zealand will cut
emissions by 20 percent by 2005.
"New Greenhouse Report Puts Down Dissenters," R.A. Kerr, Science,
pp. 481-482, Aug. 3. Explains how the IPCC scientific assessment working group
report rebuts arguments against the likelihood of greenhouse warming espoused
recently by atmospheric scientist Richard Lindzen and the Marshall Institute
Guide to Publishers
Index of Abbreviations