Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which assesses the mitigation of climate change, has updated the schedule for its contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) and postponed its final Lead Author Meeting for AR6, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to delay scientific work.
The postponement, and other changes to the Working Group III schedule, now means that the report will not be approved before the Glasgow Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, which has itself been postponed to November 2021.
Working Group III’s Fourth Lead Author Meeting is now scheduled to take place for five days from April 12 to 30, 2021. It was previously scheduled for January 11-15, 2021.
Among other changes to the Working Group III schedule, the cut-off date for submission of scientific literature for publication, to be included in the assessment moves from September 19, 2020 to December 14, 2020, and the government and expert review of the report’s Second Order Draft and first draft of its Summary for Policymakers will move from October 19 to December 13, 2020 to January 18 to March 14, 2021.
“These are the earliest dates possible to produce a credible draft in terms of scientific rigour and inclusivity while avoiding an undue overlap with the review of the Working Group II report,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of Working Group III.
An internal consultation by Working Group III found that authors and experts are facing substantial challenges to their working conditions because of the pandemic.
“We are very grateful to our authors who are continuing to work on the report despite these challenging conditions,” said Working Group III Co-Chair Priyadarshi Shukla. “This work is further complicated by the impact of the pandemic on the broader scientific community, which is delaying the production of scientific literature for assessment in our report.”
Working Group III’s third Lead Author Meeting was originally planned to be held in Quito, Ecuador, in April, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the meeting was moved online. A report from the Working Group III Technical Support Unit in July provides insights into the benefits and trade-offs of hosting large virtual meetings. It can be accessed here.
Among other changes to the work programme for the Sixth Assessment Report, Working Group I, which assesses the physical science basis of climate change, has also extended its literature cut-off date and postponed its Fourth Lead Author Meeting, and Working Group II, which deals with impacts and adaptation, has extended some of this year’s deadlines.