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IPCC Working Group II extends Sixth Assessment Report schedule

Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which assesses scientific literature relating to impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability, has revised the timeline for preparing its contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) because of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The revision is said to be the latest in a series of changes the IPCC is undertaking as a strategic response to the impact of the pandemic.

Co-Chairs of IPCC Working Group II
Hans-Otto Pörtner (right) and Debra Roberts, Co-Chairs of IPCC Working Group II

A survey by Working Group II found that IPCC authors, who volunteer their time and expertise, are experiencing unique and sustained challenges in the wake of COVID-19. Their ability to deliver to the original timeline has been compromised by competing responsibilities, limited resources, and diverse personal challenges.

“We recognise the enormous challenges authors are facing in the current crisis situation, often exacerbating existing inequalities in terms of resources and connectivity and want to make sure they have enough time and flexibility to produce a rigorous and policy relevant assessment report,” said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

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In the light of these challenges, Working Group II is extending several milestones due to be reached in 2020 by around four months. The cut-off date for scientific literature to be submitted for publication, if it is to be included in the assessment, moves to November 1, 2020 from July 1, 2020.

The government and expert review of the report’s Second Order Draft will now take place between December 4, 2020 and January 29, 2021, four months later than originally scheduled. The Fourth Lead Author Meeting to prepare the final draft will also be postponed by about four months to March 2021.

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“All Working Groups are struck by Corona at somewhat different times in their schedule making it necessary for each Working Group to find a specific solution. We are extremely thankful for the commitment and dedication of authors, volunteering their time and keeping the high scientific quality standards for the Working Group II report, against all odds,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

The Working Group II report will cover the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems, their vulnerabilities, and the capacities and limits to adapt to climate change and options for creating a sustainable future for all through an equitable and integrated approach to mitigation and adaptation efforts at all scales.

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Working Group II will monitor progress on preparing the report and the evolution of the pandemic to decide whether further adjustments are required for milestones due to be reached in 2021.

The agreed outline of the report can be found here. The list of authors of the report can be found here.

The intention is to release all the Reports of the three Working Groups and the Synthesis Report in time to inform the 2023 Global Stocktake by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when countries will review progress towards the Paris Agreement goals, including the goal of keeping global warming to well below 2°C while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

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