Growing awareness of climate change and polarisation of opinions

The awareness of the climate change issue increased markedly, because of the agreement in 1992 to create an FCCC and the fact that 156 countries signed it at the UNCED in Rio, but most people did not bother to look at the detailed scientific analyses behind the conclusions drawn by experts in the field. Sustainable development had been chosen as the key item for the agenda in Rio and it was expected that the attending countries would implement the agreed action. This was a very important change...

The need for a multidimensional approach

The specific examples described briefly above illustrate well the magnitude of the effort that is required to the stabilise atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. The basic technology is largely available, and will most certainly be further developed and there will be more inventions in the decades to come, but finding a commonly agreed strategy and policy is more difficult. Excessive costs are feared and efforts are accordingly beginning only slowly, particularly so in many developing...

Changes of the IPPC structure and new members of the Bureau

The IPCC had implicitly been given a clear task by the large number of countries that signed the FCCC in Rio i.e. to continue the assessments and serve the INC in its work towards a first meeting with the parties of the Convention that might take place within the next few years. Signatures from only 50 countries were needed for the convention to come into force. Our understanding of the environmental aspects of the issue now needed to be broadened and a more penetrating assessment was needed of...

Work towards the IPCC Third Assessment Report

The eleventh plenary session of the IPCC in the Maldives in October 1997 and the third conference of the parties to the Climate Convention in Kyoto in December that same year were my last engagements as chairman of the IPCC. Since then I have followed the IPCC work attentively but at a distance, have taken part in the work on IPCC's Special Report on Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry, and been one of the review editors of The Scientific Basis of the Third IPCC Assessment Report published...

Renewable energy

What then are the prospects for using renewable energy rather than fossil fuel energy as the world's prime source of energy Renewable energy, above all solar energy, which is the source of all forms of renewable energy, will in the long term have to become the basic source of primary energy. How quickly can this be achieved The competitiveness of the energy market ensures that energy is produced as efficiently and cheaply as possible. Renewable energy technology has so far suffered in the tough...

Equity and social considerations

The negotiations that led to the adoption of a framework climate convention in 1992 were reasonably successful only because a clear initial distinction had been made between industrial Annex-1 and developing Non-Annex-1 countries foreseeing that their commitments for mitigation would have to be different for quite some time to come. The formulation of crosscutting issues as a key task for Working Group III implicitly also meant that the issues of equity gained a more prominent place on the IPCC...

Geopolitics of fossil fuels

Just a few decades ago the fossil fuel reserves and resources were considered to provide a guaranteed secure long-term supply of energy and thus also a peaceful development of global society. Even though warnings appeared during the early 1990s, it was not generally recognised until about the turn of the century that a shortage of conventional oil might not be that far away. Accordingly, this possibility was not considered much when the Kyoto Protocol on climate change was agreed in 1997. I...

The IPCC is formed and a first assessment is begun

Merely 28 countries responded to the call for the meeting in Geneva in November 1988 in order to form a panel on climate change IPCC, 1988 .5 Only 11 of these were developing countries, but Brazil, China, Mexico, India and Nigeria attended, as well as key industrialised countries. The climate issue was still not high on the political agenda. The executive director of UNEP, Dr Tolba, had taken charge of the preparations for the meeting. I was asked by him to serve as chairman of the IPCC. This...

References

Impacts of a Warming Arctic. New York Cambridge University Press. Agarwal, A. and S. Nasrain, 1998. The Atmospheric right of all people on earth. Centre on Science and Environment, New Dehli, India. Agassiz, L., 1840. Etudes sur les Glaciers Studies on Glaciers, 1967, translated and edited by A. V. Carozzi. New York Hafner . Agrawala, S., 1998. Context and early origins of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 39, 605-620 Structural and process history of the...

How to settle disagreements on the interpretation of the Kyoto Protocol

The agreement on the Kyoto Protocol was certainly an important achievement, but in retrospect at the time of its adoption it was already politically rather unrealistic. It was very succinct with regard to the quotas that were allotted to countries, but, for example, an interpretation was needed regarding paragraph 3, which specified the way in which countries could use terrestrial sinks in order to fulfil their obligations. The rather vague language in several of the paragraphs had to be...

How to create a forum for interactions between science and politics

The AGGG, which was formed in 1986, held its first meeting in July 1986. I felt early that this small group, consisting of merely six members and called on by the three organisations, ICSU, UNEP and WMO, was not representative of the scientific community working in the many fields of interest that were involved. On the other hand, I had been impressed by the work that it had been possible to organise and the conclusions reached by the group of altogether about 40 scientists that worked for the...