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Behind the scenes of the IPCC report, with Stanford scientists

gs are uncertain.' It's better to say something like, 'If we knew A, we would know B, but we don't really know A.'"

With consensus on their minds, representatives of IPCC member countries met in Switzerland in late February to review the report's final draft.

"If the countries don't agree on particular text, generally the text doesn't get in there," Field said. In some cases, representatives from a small group of countries might decamp to a separate room to work out differences of opinion. "For the exceptionally rare cases where every country but one agrees on something, sometimes text will go into the report saying every country but one agrees on this."

The homestretch and beyond

Leaders in business, national security, public health, agriculture and other fields can make good use of the data, said Michael Mastrandrea, a Stanford Woods Institute consulting assistant professor. "Climate change is not just something for governments to be thinking about."

Field acknowledged that the report's continued value depends on making it more accessible and relevant to a wider audience. "There are a number of things I think the IPCC does spectacularly well. There are some things we don't do so well," he said. Field would like to see more author participation from the private sector, such as oil companies and reinsurance firms, and more integration of IPCC working groups.

Perhaps most important, Field envisions providing more user-friendly, customizable and interactive electronic data on an ongoing basis, as opposed to one massive report every six or seven years.

The report will serve as a foundation for international negotiations at events such as the U.N. Climate Leaders Summit scheduled for September. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on world leaders to make "bold" pledges at the meeting and to demonstrate they will achieve ambitious emissions cuts as part of a legal agreement to be signed in ea

Contact: Rob Jordan
Stanford University

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