The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific intergovernmental body, set up at the request of member governments. It was first established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 43/53. Its mission is to provide comprehensive scientific assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences, and possible options for adapting to these consequences or mitigating the effects. It is chaired by Rajendra K. Pachauri.

Thousands of scientists and other experts contribute (on a voluntary basis, without payment from the IPCC) to writing and reviewing reports, which are reviewed by representatives from all the governments, with a Summary for Policymakers being subject to line-by-line approval by all participating governments. Typically this involves the governments of more than 120 countries.

The IPCC does not carry out its own original research, nor does it do the work of monitoring climate or related phenomena itself. A main activity of the IPCC is publishing special reports on topics relevant to the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty that acknowledges the possibility of harmful climate change. Implementation of the UNFCCC led eventually to the Kyoto Protocol. The IPCC bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific literature. Membership of the IPCC is open to all members of the WMO and UNEP.

The IPCC provides an internationally accepted authority on climate change, producing reports which have the agreement of all the leading climate scientists and the consensus of every one of the participating governments. It has successfully provided authoritative policy advice with far-reaching implications for economics and lifestyles. In a context of unremitting opposition from fossil fuel interests, governments have been slow to implement the advice. The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was shared, in two equal parts, between the IPCC and Al Gore.

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