Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

New Zealand is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international scientific body that leads on the assessment of climate change.

This page outlines the organisation's role.

About the IPCC

New Zealand is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The role of the IPCC is to review and assess what we know about the climate system. It describes the current state of knowledge on climate change so that governments have a sound basis for decision-making.

It does not carry out research, monitor climate-related data or make recommendations for actions to address climate change.

Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC. Its reports involve a multiple international peer-review process to ensure they are balanced.

The IPCC is open to all member countries of the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organisation.

Governments participate in the plenary sessions, where decisions are made about the work programme and reports are accepted, adopted and approved.

IPCC structure

The IPCC has three working groups and a task force.

  • Working Group I assesses the scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change.
  • Working Group II assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it.
  • Working Group III assesses options for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and otherwise mitigating climate change.
  • The Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories is responsible for the IPCC National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme.

Review of the IPCC

In March 2010, the United Nations and the IPCC requested the InterAcademy Council (IAC), a multinational organisation of science academies, to conduct an independent review of the processes and procedures of the IPCC.

The review, while broadly supportive of the IPCC’s processes and procedures, identified some issues for future consideration.

The IPCC Panel is currently looking at ways to implement the council’s recommendations. The review report is available on the IAC website.

InterAcademy Council review of the IPCC [InterAcademy Council website]

IPCC reports

The IPCC’s ‘Fifth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2014’ was released in stages during 2013 and 2014.

  • Working Group I’s contribution: ‘The Physical Science Basis’ was released in September 2013.
  • Working Group II’s contribution ‘Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’ was released in March 2014.
  • Working Group III’s contribution ‘Mitigation of Climate Change’ was released in April 2014.
  • The summary ‘Synthesis Report’ was released in November 2014.

The report states that:

  • human influence on the climate system is clear
  • recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history 
  • continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system and will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems
  • many adaptation and mitigation options can help address climate change but no single option is sufficient by itself.

Fifth assessment report [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change website]

For a two-page summary of the headline conclusions see Climate change 2014 synthesis report [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change website]

Find out more

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change website