The first installment of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed in 2022, was released on August 9, 2021. As it has in the run up to previous important Conferences of the Parties (COPs) under the UNFCCC, the IPCC released an updated report in the middle of the ramp up to COP 26, to be held in Glasgow in November.
The conclusions in previous iterations of this report (or updates thereto) – or more specifically, the conclusion in the accompanying executive summary for policy makers – has proved influential in previous COPs. These comprehensive scientific assessment reports are published every 6 to 7 years; the prior, the Fifth Assessment Report, was completed in 2014, and provided the main scientific input to the Paris Agreement.
The assessment is the work of more than 200 scientists digesting thousands of studies, and an accompanying “summary for policymakers” was approved by delegates from 195 countries. More than any other forecast or record, this report’s determinations establish the scientific global consensus—less than three months before the UN’s COP26 international climate talks.
NOTE: the full, nearly 4000-page assessment was released in conjunction with the 42-page “summary for policymakers.” While the latter went through a diplomatic approval process in addition to a scientific one, the former comes directly from scientists. This is important to understand in reviewing the summary vis-à-vis the text of the actual report.
ALSO NOTE: This is not the complete updated assessment from the IPCC. The IPCC took the unusual step to release this section early, presumably so the information could be available in advance of the COP in Glasgow. Upcoming IPCC reports to complete AR6 aren’t expected until next year in February and March. These will address climate impacts, adaptation and mitigation.