The science of climate change, as expressed through
the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),
is pretty well-established.
Over the last quarter of a century, the organisation
has refined its review of the scientific literature in a series of
weighty reports. Producing these reports is a complex affair
requiring a huge team of volunteers, a years-long drafting process,
and securing the approval of governments worldwide.
So perhaps it's not surprising that the process
sometimes gets criticised by some of those involved. This time
around, some scientists complained after text about how countries
should be categorised in terms of their greenhouse gas emissions
got taken out of a summary.
issue of the journal Science, published today, features some
different perspectives on what happened - and what it can teach us
about where science and policy converge.
A summary for policymakers
When the IPCC releases a new report - which happens
about every five or six years - it also puts together a summary of
the most politically relevant conclusions. This is called the
Summary for Policymakers, or SPM.
During a long and painstaking process in the week
before the report's launch, every word of the SPM has to approved
by all 195 governments under the United Nations banner.