A how-to guide for those new to the reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE A LOOK
Taking a step back from the minute details is always a great idea when faced with reports as dense and thorough as the IPCC’s several thousand page Assessment Report 5 (AR5).
This also includes a handy chart for decoding what the IPCC actually means by ‘likely’ and other levels of certainty.
Some excellent and clear language for communicators who need to communicate what an IPCC report is, who the working groups are and what the reports aim to do.
Uncertainty used in a scientific context doesn’t mean the scientists are unsure of their findings – it means there are a range of outcomes that depend on different factors, most importantly how humans act to combat climate change.
The nature of establishing a scientific consensus means that IPCC reports are considered conservative estimates of where humanity may be heading.
Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) or emissions scenarios are for comparison and are combined with socio-economic, policy, technology, economic and social assumptions as well as emissions pathways.
“The climate system is dynamic and complex. As a result, conclusions drawn from reading IPCC reports that are not informed by sufficient expertise may not represent findings accurately. It is advised that when unsure, seek advice from a suitably qualified person.”