Professor Nebojsa Nakicenovic | Flickr
Nebojsa Nakicenovic is the
deputy director of the International Institute for Applied
Systems Analysis (IIASA) and a former professor of energy economics
at the Vienna University of Technology. He has been involved in the
IPCC since the first assessment report, serving as a convening lead
author of the
Special Report on Emissions Scenarios. He is now running
to succeed Dr Rajendra Pachauri as IPCC chair.
On producing shorter, more accessible
reports: "It would be very desirable to have products that can
be produced at a shorter scale, that can more reflect the concerns
that are there."
On the workload for IPCC scientists: "I think
there are scientific rewards...But the burden is large, I have no
doubt about it that the burden is very large."
On the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
"Clearly climate is connected strongly to almost all of the facets
of sustainable development."
On assessing countries' INDCs: "I think there
is a role the IPCC and the scientific community to look at how
consistent they are with some of the long term pathways"
On the feasibility of BECCS: "There is
nothing automatic about it, removing such large amounts of carbon
from the atmosphere is a real tall order."
On meeting the 2C target: "Most important is
the social change…Without that, I think scenarios like 2C and below
will be out of reach."
On a low carbon transition: "One shouldn't
look at this transformation into a low emissions world as something
one have to fear, it could be a huge opportunity for humanity, if
we do it right."
On the IPCC's mandate to be policy-relevant but
not prescriptive: "I think the definition is evolving with
On scientists as advocates: "Science
definitely needs to speak and I think the views of scientists...can
benefit our collective views about the future and what needs to be
On social media: "I think that the IPCC has
to keep up with the times, the world is changing. There are other
ways of communicating and this should not be ignored."
CB: With the 5th assessment report [AR5] done
and dusted, how do you look back on it? How do you think it has
NN: Well, first of all let me thanks you for this, for
taking this interview. To come to your question about the fifth
assessment report, I think it has been received quite well. The
fifth assessment report was a significant advance. In particular,
I'm not just referring to the substance, but also to the outreach
functions and the way it has been presented with the regional
workshops. I think this all has helped, and let me also say that I
think things have changed in the world. I think the fifth
assessment report came out somehow just at the right time because
this year, 2015, is a very special year. We will have, next week in
New York, the sustainable development goal summit and end of the
year, Paris. This is all putting much stronger emphasis on the need
for action and I think climate is an important part of the overall
transformations ahead for our society. In addition to the
substantive contribution of the IPCC, I think it is coming at the
right time and these messages are very relevant for these processes
that I think many people are concerned about.
CB: The IPCC has, of course, confirmed that
there will be an AR6 [sixth assessment report]. How do you think
its scope or function might differ, then, from AR5? Or how might it
signal a move forward for the IPCC?
NN: I think it is definitely decided the structure
will stay the same. There was talk before the Nairobi plenary of
perhaps restructuring the working groups, the three important
pillars of IPCC working groups one, two and three - and the
decision is quite firm that that will stay as it is. I'm not aware
that a definite decision has been made about the structure of AR6,
but I'm quite certain that eventually there will have to be an
assessment report. So, from my point of view, one of the biggest
challenges for the new assessment, AR6, would be to have even more
integration than we had in AR5. AR5 went beyond AR4, but I think
for AR6, a major challenge is to try to link climate change
together with vulnerabilities and impacts, together with loss and
damage notions, and together with economic and social aspects of
mitigation and adaptation. I think this is where the big challenge
is. And the reason is this year in New York, the sustainable
development goals will be adopted, goal number 13 is on climate; in
Paris, we will know roughly how the commitments look by various
countries. I think IPCC is the main scientific body to look into
those areas, those issues in an integrated fashion. Therefore, my
view is that the sixth report, whatever form it takes, might be one
of the most important ones because one could argue that the world
has changed. Since Kyoto, there has been quite a lot of talk about
the possible action, and there has been some action; even in the
private sector, but certainly by many governments. But the big,
let's call it, heavy lifting; the big efforts are still ahead of us
and I think that's why the sixth report is so important.