The IPCC is not an institution of the Convention, but it contributes important scientific information to the climate change process. It was established before the adoption of the Convention, in 1988, by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to provide an authoritative source of up-to-date interdisciplinary knowledge on climate change. It does not carry out its own research but comprehensively assesses the scientific, technical and socio-economic information on climate
change that is available around the world in peer-reviewed literature, journals, books and other sources. The IPCC is open to all members of the United Nations and WMO. Its secretariat is in the WMO headquarters in Geneva.
The IPCC is currently structured in three Working Groups. Working Group I addresses the science of climate change, Working Group II deals with impacts, vulnerability and adaptation and Working Group III with mitigation. The IPCC also includes a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, which was established in 1996.
The IPCC is best known for its comprehensive assessment reports, incorporating findings from all three Working Groups, which are widely acknowledged as authoritative sources of information on climate change. The First Assessment Report (FAR) in 1990, confirming the scientific basis for concern about climate change, helped launch negotiations on the Convention. The Second Assessment Report (SAR) in 1995, which was made available to COP 2 in 1996, provided a basis for the negotiations that led to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol. The Third Assessment Report (TAR), submitted to COP 7 in 2001, confirmed the findings of the SAR, providing new and stronger evidence of a warming world. A Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) is to be issued in 2007.
The IPCC also produces shorter special reports and technical papers on specific issues, a number of them at the request of the COP or the SBSTA. Special reports are produced under the guidance of one or more working groups following the procedures that are used for writing and reviewing the assessment reports. In 2000, for example, the IPCC issued a Special Report on
Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry, which served as an input into negotiations on the rules for the LULUCF sector under the Kyoto Protocol .
Through its Task Force on Inventories, the IPCC carries out important work on methodologies for estimating and reporting GHG emissions. The IPCC 1996 Revised Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, for example, are used by all Parties to prepare their annual emission inventories. In addition, the IPCC has developed guidance to help Parties deal with data uncertainties and support the use of good practice in managing emission inventories.
The IPCC frequently organizes workshops and expert meetings to support the assessment process. It may also co-sponsor workshops if they are considered to be a useful contribution to its own activities.
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