IPCC's new Special Report on the Ocean and the Cryosphere

I am here in lovely Monaco, sadly not to swim or explore the lovely coastline. Instead I’ll be sitting for the next 3 days in a windowless below-ground conference room, at a meeting of scientists and governments from around the world to finalize the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and the Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. The final report will be released next week and is bound to receive a lot of attention. I participated in the development of the outline of the report (appointed by the Obama State Department) back in December 2016, and it is geekily thrilling to be here and see it come to fruition.

While I am bound not to reveal the findings of the report or details of the debate around wording taking place here, the process for developing the report is pretty interesting.

Since the 2016 meeting to scope the content of the new report, 104 authors from 36 countries (73 men and 31 women (sigh)) have worked to pull it together. Three rounds of review by more than 1800 experts (including yours truly and my NRDC colleague Dr. Lisa Suatoni), generated over 30,000 comments.  This enormous undertaking has resulted in the draft summary for policy makers that will be reviewed here over the next three days.  The draft leaked last month, but that draft was only a draft, and the meeting here is for the IPCC to go over the report line by line, a process that typically results in changes to the text.

This morning Prince Albert II of Monaco opened the session. Monaco has been a leader in this space and Prince Albert speaks with knowledge and authority about the importance of addressing the impacts of climate change in the ocean, and the need for urgent action to help enhance resilience of the ocean in the face of the unprecedented changes underway.

Credit: Prince Albert II of Monaco opening the IPCC meeting to finalize the new Special Report on the Ocean and the Cryosphere

After the opening session we jumped right into the line by line review of the report. The final text of the report must be adopted by consensus by the end of this meeting on Monday, and there is a lot of ground to cover between now and then. It promises to be a very interesting 3 days.

Stay tuned!