Harnessing climate science to guide climate investments

The Chair of the IPCC underscored the urgency in strengthening the connection between the worlds of climate science and climate finance. 

  • Article type Press release
  • Publication date 26 May 2016

During a visit to the headquarters of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Mr. Hoesung Lee, underscored the urgency in strengthening the connection between the worlds of climate science and climate finance.

A national of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Lee noted the rapid pace of climate change requires a much sooner than expected reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and that the technology to enable this, at the required scale, remains underdeveloped. Bringing forward greater investments in low-emission technologies is therefore crucial, he added, citing the importance of engaging more closely with the business community, for example, to move promising ideas out of laboratories and into practice.

“We see a clear opportunity to use the IPCC’s scientific evidence to help the Green Climate Fund carry out its role in supporting countries in making the fundamental and transformative changes needed to address climate change,” said the IPCC Chair. “The Fund’s investment priorities, focused on significant adaptation and mitigation outcomes, reflect the IPCC’s assessment of what is needed to reduce the impacts of climate change.”

Mr. Lee highlighted the many possibilities present of linking climate science and climate finance in a bilateral meeting with GCF’s Executive Director Héla Cheikhrouhou, in which he also elaborated on the IPCC’s mandate to provide substantive scientific assessments to decision-makers through its main reports and publications, such as its flagship Assessment Report.

In commenting on the link between climate science and finance, Ms. Cheikhrouhou underlined that many developing countries seeking GCF funding lack the scientific basis to guide their investments.

“Countries need accessible climate science knowledge to inform their investment decisions in order to choose the best climate action approaches that maximises impact,” said Ms. Cheikhrouhou.

Strengthening climate science in developing countries

Both Mr. Lee and Ms. Cheikhrouhou agreed there are a number of areas for potential collaboration between the IPCC and GCF, as both organisations are mandated to support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

One area that generated discussion was strengthening developing countries’ scientific knowledge on climate change. Mr. Lee shared that a significant gap exists with regard to climate science inputs from developing countries, giving an example that there is limited scientific literature on climate change coming from countries hardest hit by climate change.

To help address this, GCF’s Executive Director spoke to the role of capacity building at the country and regional level, and she referenced how the Fund deploys readiness support to work directly with developing countries and partnering institutions to boost their resources and capabilities. She added that a similar approach, focused on supporting developing country climate scientists elevate their engagement in the global arena, could lead to tangible results.

“Improving climate science knowledge at the country level could help improve a country’s assessment of the climate action it needs to take and, in turn, better inform and guide how they will invest in low-emission and climate-resilient pathways,” said Ms. Cheikhrouhou. “GCF wants high impact proposals of paradigm-shifting projects and programmes, and if this requires boosting climate science, then it is an area worth exploring.”

The IPCC is the world body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly, to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Mr. Lee was appointed Chair of the IPCC on 6 October 2015.