Climate Change

On December 12, 2015 the world’s governments agreed to adopt the Paris Agreement on keeping global warming below 2°C. It is the result of two decades of international negotiations in which the International Science Council and its predecessor organizations have played a role as a convenor of the scientific community to underscore the importance of evidence-based decision making in the political process.

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Transform 21: Global Science Portal for the transformations we need

As countries worldwide set their sights on sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a pivotal moment to transform to more sustainable, more equitable and more resilient societies and economies.

Transform 21 features the latest resources from our network of scientists and change-makers to help inform the urgent transformations needed to achieve climate and biodiversity goals.

The International Science Council has a unique position as a convening and federating actor for the scientific community working on climate change, and brings together its research programmes and observing systems to participate via official delegations at UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) meetings. As a co-sponsor of different actors in the climate science community – from the World Climate Research Programme, Future Earth, the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk to GCOS, GOOS and GTOS, the ISC functions as a coordinating hub to ensure efficient coordination and joined-up action for the science community at the COP.

The contributions of the ISC-led delegations to the COP meetings range from the delivery of official statements about the knowledge base on anthropogenic climate change and its impacts, to the organization of side events and the participation of scientists in national delegations, as well as engaging with the international media during and after the negotiations. Scientists attending COPs are also frequently called upon to explain and clarify key concepts and controversies relating to the assessments of the IPCC.

In recent years the ISC has been active at the annual COP meetings via its co-organization of side events that highlight the latest scientific knowledge and communicate to policy-makers the importance of the scientific community for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

World Climate Research Programme (WCRP)

The ISC’s main contribution to the climate change community is via its co-sponsorship, along with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).

Background: sounding the alarm on climate change

In the 1980s the International Science Council’s predecessor organization the International Council for Science played a role, in conjunction with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in convening a series of scientific meetings which alerted governments to the threat of climate change, eventually resulting in the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was established at the Rio Earth Summit. While it is formally a treaty, it is not legally binding, and exists principally to provide a system for negotiating the issue.

Since the first Conference of the Parties was held in Berlin in 1995, the COP has convened every year to allow the 196 parties to reach a global agreement on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to convening and facilitating the negotiations, the UNFCCC has played an important role to popularize the issue and build support among non-state actors to drive momentum towards the final historic agreement adopted in 2015.


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