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IPCC reports must be more accessible and practical, academics say



Experts from Anglia Ruskin University have called for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to work with engineers, planners and investors – rather than just academics – to make its reports more helpful and clear.

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New research led by Dr Candice Howarth, from Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute, and Dr David Viner, principal advisor for climate resilience at environmental consultancy Mott MacDonald, has suggested that the IPCC experts should work more with ‘people working on the ground’ for its climate change reports.

In the study published in Nature Climate Change, Howarth and Viner say, “Increasingly, [the IPCC reports] are used by engineers, policymakers and other practitioners to develop climate change risk frameworks and vulnerability assessments.”

The study explains that the IPCC’s assessment is  “conducted primarily by the scientific and political communities, and does not take into account the needs, and the role, of the experts working on the ground”.

This risks making the findings of the panel inaccessible to others, primarily for cultural reasons and a lack of common language, according to the academics.

The authors add, “The UK government’s response to the Somerset flooding in January 2014 demonstrates the need for the academic and practitioner communities to work together to shape policy responses and to deliver solutions on the ground.

“We think that incorporating a similar proactive and collaborative approach into the formulation of recommendations in the IPCC reports, although at an earlier stage, would better inform the decision-making process.  Rather than being brought in to fix and rebuild, they would have contributed to the construction of climate resilient infrastructure in the first place.”

The IPCC is a UN scientific body established in 1988 that produces regular reports on the risks, impacts, adaptation and mitigation strategies on climate change. The latest study warned over the consequences that the phenomenon would have for the global economy and society.

Photo:  Number 10 via flickr

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