Dr Hoesung Lee is a professor in the economics of
climate change, energy and sustainable development at Korea
University in Seoul, South Korea. He has been the vice chair of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 2008. This week Dr
Lee was named the new chair of the IPCC.
On the burden on IPCC scientists: "I
think the burden is quite high. However, at the same time...many of
them take great pride in sharing this experience with fellow
On how adaptation and mitigation complement each
other: "The community would benefit more by recognising
the complementing nature of the two approaches."
On opening plenary sessions to the
media: "One can improve the transparency of the process
without opening the whole details of the deliberations process, I
On the limitations of economic
modelling: "Right now the major stumbling block in the
study of climate change economics is to have some reasonable
understanding and estimates of climate damages."
On a carbon tax: "If you ask me to
choose the most important work in climate change issues, then I'll
choose carbon price. That's because it is the driver to put us into
the right track."
On the "hiatus": "I think that trying to
read too much from 10-year temperature changes is more or less like
trying to extract too much information from, should I say, daily
fluctuations of stock prices."
On a carbon budget for 2C: "Ideally, it
should be very effective, but in reality I do not see carbon
budgets having much impact on action."
On the feasibility of 2C: "The IPCC
report indicated that negative emissions are required to achieve a
2C goal and the technology to achieve that goal is not yet
On the future of the IPCC: "Perhaps we
may have reached a point where we have done enough of identifying
problems and we may have time now to see the solutions."
On climate skeptics: "The IPCC is
certainly open to those who are skeptical of climate change and
global warming to come into our arena and present their views."
CB: The IPCC has confirmed there will be an
AR6 [sixth assessment report], how do you think its scope or
function might be different from AR5? Do you think there will be
HL: Oh, I think there was a great deal of discussion
about the future of the IPCC at the end of the last cycle of the
IPCC and, overall, the consensus was that we would follow more or
less a similar structure as we have adopted for the last reports.
In terms of reports and the frequency of those outputs, we don't
generally expect much change from the previous cycle. I hope that
there has to be some meaningful improvements in the way the IPCC
outputs in the future.
CB: You mentioned the timing of the reports
there, it has been decided to continue the big assessment reports
every five or seven years or so. Would you have prefered to see
smaller, maybe more frequent report on specific regions or
HS: I think specific reports on specific regions will
be very much in demand, but the constraint is whether the climate
science community will be able to share that burden of many
specific reports, in addition to the reports for the major
assessments. So, the constraint is really on the potential
contributors to the IPCC assessment cycle.