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Ottmar Edenhofer takes on chairmanship within IPCC

Ottmar Edenhofer was appointed as joint chair of Working Group 3 at the Twenty-Ninth Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Geneva, Switzerland. The deputy director and chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Professor of the Economics of Climate Change at the Berlin Institute of Technology will be co-chairing the Working Group “Mitigation of Climate Change” with Ramón Pichs Madruga from Cuba and Youba Sokona from Mali. In the next seven years the co-chairs will map out strategies for solutions in climate and energy issues and lay out the groundwork for worldwide emissions trading.

“In the coming years, we will have to clarify the requirements of mitigation and the limits of adaptation,” says Edenhofer. The economist sees this as a central issue in future public and scientific discourse. It is part of the IPCC’s mandate and the main task for Working Group 3 to point out solutions. This will grow in importance in the coming years, Edenhofer thinks, as the expectations of politicians, the economy and society also continue to grow.

ottmar_bert Former WG III Co-Chair Bert Metz (left)
congratulates Ottmar Edenhofer on his
election in Geneva.

Edenhofer describes one of his Working Group’s immediate tasks as the necessity to “state what it costs to stabilize the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere at a low level.” This involves assessing the risks associated with different mitigation options, for example the influence of the use of biomass on food security or the risks of nuclear power generation. In dialogue with Working Group 2 “Climate Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” it has to be clarified, where society’s abilities to adapt are limited and what options for action exist.

As chair Edenhofer wants to publish several special reports on different subjects, the first one on the role of renewable energies in climate policy. Other special reports will deal with integrating regional carbon markets, and adaptation and mitigation in mega cities. The Technical Support Unit of Working Group 3 will be located at PIK. This will further establish Potsdam as a place for the development of international concepts for climate protection.

The IPCC will have to recruit more know how from the economy. Edenhofer will invite companies and non-governmental organizations to participate in experts’ workshops so that their knowledge can benefit the IPCC's assessments and special reports. “We need this expertise,” says Edenhofer, and stresses that it is not the IPCC’s mandate to make policies, but to be an honest broker between science and society by providing the information necessary to make sensible decisions.

Ottmar Edenhofer (middle) and his newly elected Co-Chair for WG III, Ramón Pichs Madruga from Cuba (right), and Birama Diarra, head of the delegation from Mali, representing Youba Sokona, who was also elected Co-Chair of WG III.

The perspectives of the developing and newly industrialized countries will be represented in Working Group 3 by the co-chairs Ramón Pichs Madruga from Cuba and Youba Sokona from Mali. Since the WG III will play a major role in the coming Assessment Report, Working Group 3 will now be co-chaired by three scientists instead of two and five vice-chairs instead of six. Youba Sokona is chair of the Sahara and Sahel Observatory, an intergovernmental African organization for sustainable development. He teaches engineering at the Ecole Nationale d'Ingénieurs in Bamako, Mali. Ramón Pichs Madruga was vice chair of Working Group 3 up to now. As a member of the IPCC he contributed to the third and fourth Assessment Reports in 2001 and 2007. The Cuban foreign trade economist and social scientist is one of the directors of the Centro de Investigaciones de Economía Mundial in Havana, an institution for research on the global economy.

Among the newly elected vice-chairs in Working Group 3 is Italian economist Carlo Carraro of the Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change in Lecce, Italy, who also cooperates with Edenhofer on the PIK project “Recipe”. The other vice chairs are Ismail Elgizouli from Sudan, Suzanha Khan Ribeiro from Brazil, Antonia Ivanova Boncheva from Mexico and Jim Skea from the United Kindgdom.

After his first election in 2002, the Indian industrial engineer and economist Rajendra Pachauri was again elected chair of the IPCC. In the IPCC plenary sessions the delegates of the member countries of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) are entitled to vote. These organizations founded the IPCC in 1988.

The IPCC assesses scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. The fourth Assessment Report by the IPCC – that generated major public interest – was published in 2007. The fifth Assessment report will probably appear in 2012 or 2013; the exact date is not yet fixed. So far, Assessment Reports appeared in 1990, 1995, 2001 and 2007.

Newly elected Co-Chairs Ottmar Edenhofer (WG III) and Christopher Field (WG II) shortly after their election in Geneva.

Comments on the election:


“The Technical University Berlin is proud and happy that Ottmar Edenhofer has been appointed. Only recently, Mr. Edenhofer has been appointed to a professorship in the ‘Economy of Climate Change’ at the TU Berlin which is unique worldwide. This professorship combines economy, mathematics, environmental sciences with energy and traffic technology with the goal to design energy and growth policy strategies for a worldwide decrease of emissions. His appointment as head of the working group “Mitigation of Climate Change” increases the importance of this professorship. As the president of a university, I am especially delighted that the students are trained at a scientifically high level. Congratulations to Mr. Edenhofer and to the students who will have the opportunity to study under his supervision.”
Professor Kurt Kutzler, Berlin Institute of Technology, President

“His appointment as chair of Working Group 3 greatly honours Ottmar Edenhofer’s scientific work. This Working Group maps out strategies for solutions and thus has great influence on future climate policy. Ottmar Edenhofer is the right man for this task. With his research here at PIK he has laid a foundation that the IPCC can build on, for example on the important role of innovation. His appointment will also make Germany more visible in international research.”
Professor John Schellnhuber, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Director

“Ottmar Edenhofer is an internationally outstanding scientist in the economics of climate change. His expertise, experience, wisdom and judgement are of great value for the IPCC and especially Working Group 3 ‘Mitigation of Climate Change’. Within the coming years the course has to be set for the further development of Earth’s climate, but also our economy, our living standards and our energy supply. I believe that Ottmar Edenhofer as a leader and as a scientist will contribute greatly to the excellent policy advice by the IPCC. I am delighted that he has been appointed as chair of Working Group 3.”
Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, London School of Economics and Political Science

“The IPCC will give new impetus to international climate policy and thereby economic development worldwide. Ottmar Edenhofer, with his scientific reputation, is an ideal choice for the chairmanship of Working Group 3 that will make crucial contributions to policy advice. I welcome the appointment of an expert for the demanding task to map out solutions for climate and energy issues and, personally, I am happy for Ottmar Edenhofer.”
Professor Carl Christian von Weizsäcker, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods



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