The IPCC and the new map of science and politics

Silke Beck (Lead Author), Martin Mahony

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, we review work which seeks to understand and interpret the place of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) within the science and politics of climate change in the context of a post‐Paris polycentric governance regime and the culture of “post‐truth” politics. Focusing on studies of how the IPCC has sought to maintain a boundary between the scientific and the political, we offer an historical account of “boundary work” within the IPCC which is instructive for thinking, in an anticipative mode, about emerging and likely challenges to the IPCC's position as a science–policy boundary organization. We suggest that the relationships between climate science and policy are undergoing fundamental transformation in light of the Paris Agreement, and contend that the IPCC will need to be nimble and reflexive in meeting new challenges. Growing calls for more “solution‐oriented” assessment question the IPCC's positioning at the science—politics boundary, where it can function to put some policy options on the table, while obscuring others. Recent controversies over proposed mitigation solutions are indicative of likely future challenges. We suggest that by adopting a mode of “responsible assessment,” the IPCC can continue to exercise its world‐making power in a relevant and legitimate fashion.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere547
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Issue number6
Early online date21 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • BECCs
  • IPCC
  • negative emissions
  • Paris Agreement
  • pathways

Cite this