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Why is the IPCC the Authority on Climate Change?

by Charles Hodgson

· Advocacy Stories

I attended the Climate Reality training in San Francisco in 2012 after having a bit of an awakening in 2009 around the time of the Copenhagen climate summit—COP 15.


It was at a dinner party I was hosting. One of our guests turned out to be a climate change denier and we argued furiously. I woke up the next morning still furious. This guy had all the answers. I knew he was wrong, but I’d been unable to articulate why he was wrong. So I made a project of understanding climate change from top to bottom, front to back. I never wanted to be speechless in an argument like that again.


As you know, there’s a lot of information out there on climate change; books, movies, podcasts, you name it. And they cover all sorts of aspects; climate justice, denial, the physics, ice cores, tree rings, economics, refugees, politics – the list goes on and on. 

But one thing I felt was not very well covered was the authority of the IPCC. 

For me personally, as I delved into the scope of climate change, I found it overwhelming. I grappled with climate doom. Sometimes I needed to do a reality check, asking myself: “Can this be true?” All around me life was going on as normal. Could we really be marching toward the possible collapse of civilization?


It was my understanding of the rigour of the science—mainly through the IPCC—that brought me back again and again to knowing “yes, this really is true.”

That’s why I think it’s so important that people have a better understanding of who the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are. When you understand how they go about their work and what they’ve achieved, it gives you a new certainty. 


When IPCC reports come out, like this series of AR6 reports, you understand that these reports are unlike other reports from a think tank or consultants or even from scientists through peer-reviewed journals. IPCC reports are official consensus documents, agreed to by every scientist in the world with any expertise in a related field; and what’s more, these are official consensus documents agreed to by practically every government in the world—officially agreed! Line-by-line and word-by-word agreement!


And so, because there is almost nothing out there—no movies, no books, no podcasts—dedicated to how the IPCC works, I created a graphic novel and named it Because IPCC.


It’s available free online at or as a PDF. Volunteers have translated it into a dozen languages and converted it into a YouTube video. Many scientists with deep IPCC experience have given it the thumbs up, so you can be sure of its accuracy.

I encourage you to use it in your climate advocacy. 

One of the important points in the IPCC process is the breadth of the input into the reports. Scientists take input from observer groups with every conceivable motivation. Fossil fuel companies and associations as well as environmental groups and climate activists all get to have their say. Member countries come from both ends of the spectrum; nations whose very existence is under threat from climate change as well as nations whose entire economies depend on the sale of oil and gas. An IPCC report has taken into account comments from all of these parties and still found consensus based on the science. 

I encourage you to invest 20 minutes and read this graphic novel. If you like it, use it in your work.

We’ve got printed copies and if you’ll help with shipping costs, we’d love to send you free copies for use as handouts. You can reach us at and see the graphic novel at