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USP Scientists gain IPCC recognition

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The four authors from L-R Dr Helene Jacot Des Combes, Dr Morgan Wairiu, Professor Elisabeth Holland and Diana Salili.

Four staff from The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCe-SD) have been recognised as authors for the globally recognised climate change reports, a first for the Centre and the University.                                                          

Professor Elisabeth Holland, PaCE-SD Director and Professor in Climate Change,
and Dr Helene Jacot Des Combes, Senior Lecturer in Climate Change Adaptation have been selected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as Lead Authors for the Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere (SROCC) while Dr Morgan Wairiu, PaCE-SD Deputy Director and Climate Change Tutor and Phd Student Diana Salili have been selected to be Lead and Contributing Authors respectively on the IPCC’s 1.5 °C Special report.

Dr Wairiu said that the selection of four (4) authors from PaCE-SD is not only good for visibility but also for ensuring that Pacific voices and research are well represented in the reports.

“It is visibility for the authors and for USP as an institute, in academia and on the global stage. But it will also ensure that data and information relevant to the situation in the Pacific is included in the report,” Dr Wairiu said.

“The 1.5 °C Special report, for example, is crucial for the facilitative dialogue which will take place at the end of 2018, to inform renewed talks on toughening (greenhouse gas) emission targets beyond those agreed upon in the Paris Agreement,” he added.

The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in recognition of the problem of global warming.

Through the IPCC, climate experts from around the world synthesise the most recent climate science findings every five (5) to seven (7) years and present their report to the world’s political leaders.

The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to the understanding of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

While hundreds of leading experts in different areas covered by IPCC reports volunteer their time and expertise to produce these assessments, Pacific scientists have been few and far between. A few who have previously contributed include: Solomone Fifita (Pacific Community - SPC), Arthur Webb (Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission - SOPAC), Dr Tony Weir (former PaCE-SD staff), Dr.  Netatua Petaloski (Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme – SPREP), and Penehuro Lefale (Samoa).

Dr Wairiu is a Lead Author of Chapter 1 of the 1.5 °C Special report nominated by Solomon Islands and Ms. Salili is a contributing author of the report , included at the invitation of University of Canterbury, NZ author Bronwyn Hayward. 

Dr Jacot Des Combes is a Lead Author of the Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere  nominated by Fiji (and Solomon Islands), while Professor Holland is a Lead Author of Chapter 1 of the Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere nominated by Fiji, Solomon Islands, and the African, Caribbean , and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Secretariat in Brussels.

Professor Holland is a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize shared between the IPCC and Al Gore for their work on climate change. She participated in the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth IPCC assessments, serving as a US, German and now Fiji representative.

Professor Holland was lead author on the atmospheric chemistry chapter for the 2001, Third Assessment Report (TAR), and coupled biogeochemical cycles focused on the carbon and nitrogen cycle, in the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

Fiji and USP have been invited to host the first lead authors meeting for the IPCC Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in the first week of October, 2017 in collaboration with other regional organisations. 

This news item was published on 31 Aug 2017 11:08:35 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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