Strong regional focus, including on Arctic, key for next IPCC report say climate experts

Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, at the Montreal IPCC meeting this week. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)
MONTREAL –  Extreme weather events, and the warming polar regions, make understanding climate change on a regional level more important than ever, said a group of international climate experts gathered on Sunday.

“This is a big milestone,” Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said at a news conference. “This is the most ambitious world program every undertaken by the IPCC.”

Since September 6, scientists and representatives from 195 countries have been gathered in Montreal to discuss the outlines of the IPCC’s sixth assessment report, due out in 2022.

Lee, along with the heads of IPCC’s key working groups, said there was a consensus in this week’s meetings that  incorporating a strong regional focus, including for places like the Arctic, would guide much of their work as they put the next report together.

Policy makers and government representatives have stressed that more region-specific information was needed from the IPCC, said Gregory Flato, Vice-Chair of IPCC’s Working Group I.

“The IPCC has very much taken that on board and has developed these outlines in a way that will provide more targeted regional information both from the physical science part and from the impacts and adaptation part,” Flato said.

The Arctic will be looked  at as a whole, and in sections concerning countries with Arctic regions, said Hans-Otto Portner, co-chair of IPCC’s Working Group II.

“It’s a region of international interest that has international coordination in terms of research and policy interests as well as the more national aspects, ” Portner said.

International climate research
In this May 6, 2016 file photo, a wildfire breaks out along a highway about 10 miles south of Fort McMurray, Alberta. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual state of the climate 2016 report in August, highlighting numerous records including hottest year, highest sea level and lowest sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctica. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and  the United Nations Environment Programme.

The body does not do its own research, but examines climate science published worldwide to provide policymakers with information on climate change impacts as well as adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Much of its work from its fifth assessment report was used to inform the Paris Climate Agreement.

Climate change in Canada
Sea ice breaks apart by the passing of the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica as it traverses the Northwest Passage through the Victoria Strait in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago Friday, July 21, 2017. Scientists believe there is no way to reverse the decline in Arctic sea ice in the foreseeable future. Even in the best-case scenario envisaged by the 2015 Paris climate accord, sea ice will largely vanish from the Arctic during the summer within the coming decades. (David Goldman/AP/via The Canadian Press)

As well as looking at ways to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the IPCC’s sixth assessment report will also support Canada’s Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, a government news release said.

The plan looks at pricing carbon pollution, reducing emissions and the changing economic landscape for Canadian businesses as the country moves towards a low-carbon economy.

Canada’s next national assessment titled Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action, is also currently underway and will cover  climate change in Canada as well as adaptation measures that could be taken in the country.

On Saturday, Catherine McKenna, Canada’s minister of the environment announced the Canadian government would be doubling the country’s standard contribution to the IPCC from $150,000 per year to to $300,000 per year until the Sixth Assessment Report cycle ends in 2022.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Canada: Canada’s science minister in North to observe climate change, Radio Canada International

Finland: U.S. pullout from Paris climate pact condemned by Finnish leader, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland earthquake and tsunami – hazards of melting ice?, blog by Irene Quaile, Deutsche Welle

Norway: As Arctic weather dramatically changes, world meteorologists take on more joint forecasting, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: UNESCO mission visits protected island in Arctic Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden could be a model of sustainability, says environment professor, Radio Sweden

United States:  Alaska youth environmental group asks state to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, Alaska Dispatch News

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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