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Reforming the IPCC’s Assessment of Climate Change Economics


  • Gabriel Chan

    (Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota)

  • Carlo Carraro

    (University of Venice and Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei)

  • Ottmar Edenhofer

    (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)

  • Charles Kolstad

    (Stanford University)

  • Robert Stavins

    (John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University)


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is broadly viewed as the world’s most legitimate scientific assessment body that periodically assesses the economics of climate change (among many other topics) for policy audiences. However, growing procedural inefficiencies and limitations to substantive coverage have made the IPCC an increasingly unattractive forum for the most qualified climate economists. Drawing on our observations and personal experience working on the most recent IPCC report, published last year, we propose four reforms to the IPCC’s process that we believe will lower the cost for volunteering as an IPCC author: improving interactions between governments and academics, making IPCC operations more efficient, clarifying and strengthening conflict of interest rules, and expanding outreach. We also propose three reforms to the IPCC’s substantive coverage to clarify the IPCC’s role and to make participation as an author more intellectually rewarding: complementing the IPCC with other initiatives, improving the integration of economics with other disciplines, and providing complete data for policymakers to make decisions. Despite the distinct characteristics of the IPCC that create challenges for authors unlike those in any other review body, we continue to believe in the importance of the IPCC for providing the most visible line of public communication between the scholarly community and policymakers.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriel Chan & Carlo Carraro & Ottmar Edenhofer & Charles Kolstad & Robert Stavins, 2016. "Reforming the IPCC’s Assessment of Climate Change Economics," Working Papers 2016.12, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2016.12

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carlo Carraro & Charles Kolstad & Robert Stavins, 2015. "Assessment and Communication of the Social Science of Climate Change: Bridging Research and Policy," Review of Environment, Energy and Economics - Re3, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, February.
    2. David Victor, 2015. "Climate change: Embed the social sciences in climate policy," Nature, Nature, vol. 520(7545), pages 27-29, April.
    3. David Griggs, 2014. "Climate policy: Streamline IPCC reports," Nature, Nature, vol. 508(7495), pages 171-173, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. S. Niggol Seo, 2017. "Beyond the Paris Agreement: Climate change policy negotiations and future directions," Regional Science Policy & Practice, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(2), pages 121-140, June.
    2. Mathy, Sandrine & Menanteau, Philippe & Criqui, Patrick, 2018. "After the Paris Agreement: Measuring the Global Decarbonization Wedges From National Energy Scenarios," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 273-289.

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    More about this item


    Scientific Assessment; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); Scientific Communication;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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