What IGES Researchers are saying
    Vol.1 June 2014
  • Muneyuki Nakata

    Muneyuki Nakata

    Researcher, Adaptation, Natural Resources and Ecosystem Services Area,
    Institute for Global
    Environmental Strategies (IGES)

    Mr. Nakata studied at the University of the Philippines in 2005 as an exchange student and obtained his MSc in Environmental Economics from the University of York, UK. He joined IGES in 2009 and moved to the Adaptation team in 2013. He has followed up several international meetings in Asia such as East Asia Environment Ministers Meeting, ASEAN+3 (Japan, China, and Korea) Environment Ministers Meeting and Tripartite (Japan, China, and Korea) Environment Ministers Meeting through supporting the Ministry of Environment, Japan (MOEJ). Currently he is working for the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) related project with MOEJ.

On the scene at IPCC Negotiations

A new series of short interviews with IGES researchers will start from this month. They talk about their work and give their inside stories.

The first interview in the series is with Muneyuki Nakata, who participated in negotiations to approve the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).  He tells us about what it was like at the meetings and what the future holds for the report. The release of AR5, which forms the scientific basis upon which countries will carry out climate change measures, took place between 2013 and 2014 at meetings of the three Working Groups.

---You were present at the negotiations to approve the report.
Can you tell us how tough it actually was?


  • Session of the IPCC in Yokohama
    (Author: right foreground) Photo courtesy of IISD/ENB

Well, at the plenary meetings, the authors of the report and government delegations approve the Summary for Policymakers (SPM), which covers about 30 pages, one sentence at a time. Basically, because unanimous decisions must be made at plenary sessions where all participants are present, negotiations require a staggering amount of time and effort. I participated in all plenary sessions, starting with Working Group I (WGI) and through Working Group III (WGIII). At every session, the final negotiations went on all night. At the session for Working Group II (WGII) in Yokohama in March this year, the meeting went on for 30 hours straight. The final day began at about 8:30 a.m. on 29 March, but I think the resolution was only finally made on the afternoon of the 30th. So, you could say that the success or failure of a meeting is going to be determined on whether or not you could get something to eat close to the venue! I can tell you now that one of the most important logistical items that had to be worked out in the preparations for the Yokohama plenary session was the location of places to get a meal or a snack. There are always some participants exchanging snacks during night-time negotiations.

Each conference is different so it is really difficult to make a simple comparison but if you look at COP meetings , in most cases participants divide into sessions according to about 30 agenda topics, and then discuss and adopt a few pages (I think some texts exceed 10 pages), so these IPCC meetings are really hard work.

---So now the report has been approved, how is going to be of use
from now on?


The report is going to supply vital scientific information to international negotiation processes on climate change, including COP. The 40th sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies to the UNFCCC (SB40) are being held in Germany in June this year (2014) and experts involved in the writing of the WGII and WGIII reports participated in a portion of the sessions and provided scientific advice. Furthermore, the contents of the Synthesis Report to be adopted at the end of October are scheduled to be presented at COP20, to be held in Peru in December 2014. In particular, WGI has pointed out the approximate linear relationship between global mean surface temperature response and cumulative CO2 emissions (*1), and likewise, WGII has announced that the impacts of climate change are already substantial (*2). Moreover, WGIII states that major emissions reductions are required to achieve the two-degree target (*3). I believe consideration of these matters will influence negotiations on a new post-2020 climate framework that is due to be agreed on in 2015.

--- Thank you very much.

  1. *1: The level of global warming is to an extent determined by the volume of cumulative CO2 emissions. This indicates that the amount of CO2 emissions permissible will be to an extent determined if temperature rise is to be held to a certain level (when not taking into account carbon capture and storage technology).

  2. *2: For instance, points have been made regarding already identified impacts of climate change on quality and quantity of water resources and migration of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine species s, as well as overall negative impacts on food production.

  3. *3: For example, to maintain a probability of over 66% for curbing the increase within two-degrees relative to pre-industrial levels in 2100, a 40-70% (compared to 2010) reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 is required.

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