IPCC adoption of the Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C.

Actors, activities, and forms of authority in the IPCC

This article was written by Hannah Hughes
This article was published on

In this short summary video, author Hannah Hughes discusses the key points from her Review of International Studies (RIS) article - Actors, activities, and forms of authority in the IPCC.

This article examines the actors, activities, and forms of authority in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), forming a new analytical framework for studying international organisations on the basis of the symbolic power of the IPCC over the writing of climate change. 

Want to know more? You can read the full article at DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0260210523000207

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Scholarship on global environmental assessments call for these organisations to become more reflexive to address challenges around participation, inclusivity of perspectives, and responsivity to the policy domains they inform. However, there has been less call for reflexivity in IPCC scholarship or closer examination of how routine concepts condition scholarly understanding by focusing on science and politics over other social dynamics. In this article, I suggest that scholarly reflexivity could advance new analytical approaches that provide practical insights for changing organisational structures. Through reflecting on my understanding of the IPCC, I develop actors, activities, and forms of authority as a new analytical framework for studying international organisations and knowledge bodies. Through its application, I describe the social order of the IPCC within and between the panel, the bureau, the technical support units, the secretariat and the authors, which is revealing of which actors, on the basis of what authority, have symbolic power over the writing of climate change. The fine-grained analysis of organisations enabled by this analytical framework reveals how dominance can and is being remade through intergovernmental relations and potentially, identifies avenues that managers of these bodies can pursue to challenge it.

Image by Sean Wu licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.