Climatic Change

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 605-620

First online:

Context and Early Origins of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

  • Shardul AgrawalaAffiliated withScience, Technology and Environmental Policy Program, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

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Climate change is a problem which is global both in terms of causes and consequences. The uncertainties are large and likely to persist. Meanwhile, the political and economic stakes of both action and inaction are much higher than those in other transboundary concerns such as acid rain and ozone depletion. The public policy impact of scientific opinions on climate change, therefore, not only depends upon what is being said, but also, who is advancing those conclusions and how they were arrived at. This was the rationale behind the setting up of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. The paper examines the IPCC in the context of prior assessment efforts. It attempts to unravel the processes which caused the IPCC to be set up when it was and how it was, as opposed to different times and different forms.