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Learning about climate change solutions in the IPCC and beyond

Wednesday 31 January 2018, 16.00-17.15 (to be followed by drinks reception)
School of Earth and Environment, seminar rooms 8.119
Prof Jan Minx, Priestley Chair in Climate Change and Public Policy
The need for big data, systematic review and social science and humanities techniques
Priestley Centre/SRI joint seminar

This seminar will be of interest to those interested in climate science, scientific assessments, informing policy, big data, applying social sciences and humanities methodologies to climate challenges, and systematic reviews.


There has been much debate about the assessment process of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Yet two of the most fundamental challenges that directly threaten the ability of the IPCC to fulfil its mandate have been largely neglected so far. Firstly, the magnitude and rapid expansion of the climate change literature makes it increasingly impossible for the IPCC to conduct comprehensive and transparent assessments without major innovations in assessment practices and tools. Secondly, the structure, organization and scientific practices across the social sciences and humanities prohibit systematic learning on climate change solutions and increasingly limit the policy-relevance of IPCC assessments. We highlight the need for responses along three avenues to prepare the IPCC for continued success in the future: 1) IPCC assessments must make better use of big-data methods and available computational power to assess the growing body of literature and ensure comprehensiveness; 2) systematic review practices need to be enshrined into IPCC procedures to ensure adequate focus and transparency in its assessments; 3) a synthetic research culture needs to be established in the social sciences and humanities in order to foster knowledge accumulation and learning on climate solutions in the future. As policymakers become more interested in understanding solutions, the future prospects of global environmental assessment enterprises will depend heavily on a successful transformation within the social sciences and humanities towards systematic knowledge aggregation.


Jan Minx is the new Chair for Climate Change and Public Policy at the Priestley International Centre for Climate. He also heads the research group for Applied Sustainability Science at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin. Before coming to Leeds Jan was Professor for Science-Policy and Sustainable Development at the Hertie School of Governance and worked for Technical University Berlin as well as Stockholm Environment Institute. During its fifth assessment cycle he headed the Technical Support Unit of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 3 on climate change mitigation and served in various author functions during that time. Jan holds a MSc in Environmental Economics and a PhD in Environmental Economics and Management from the University of York.