Diana Urge-Vorsatz, Professor at Central European University's (CEU) Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, has been elected Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the period of its Seventh Assessment Cycle (foreseen as 2023 – 2030). Professor Urge-Vorsatz previously served as the IPCC’s Working Group III Vice-Chair from 2015 to 2023, and as Coordinating Lead Author on two IPCC assessment reports.
The IPCC – the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change – elected its new Bureau last month during its 59th Session held in Nairobi, Kenya. “I feel deeply honored that over ninety governments have lent me their trust to serve IPCC as one of its three Vice-Chairs in its upcoming cycle,” said Professor Urge-Vorsatz. “The Seventh Assessment Cycle will be a critical one since, as we showed in the Working Group III report, global emissions need to have peaked and start to decline by the time we publish our next series of assessment reports.”
Professor Urge-Vorsatz warned that in the Seventh Assessment Cycle the world could exceed important temperature thresholds, threatening some of the most vulnerable population groups. However, she also offered hope, saying: “At the same time, we have never had more solutions at hand, more opportunities to solve multiple societal and economic challenges together, and stronger political will. Therefore, I am positive that IPCC will continue to make a difference in catalising transformative climate action. I am privileged to contribute to tackling this historic challenge through the unique science-policy cooperation that the IPCC has invented, and which has proven to be very successful.”
The IPCC is made up of three working groups: Working Group I, deals with the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II, deals with impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III, deals with climate change mitigation. It publishes comprehensive scientific assessment reports every six to seven years, which provide governments with scientific information they can use to develop climate policies. It also has a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, which develops methodologies for measuring emissions and removals.
Diana Urge-Vorsatz has been a professor at CEU since 1996. For 10 years, from 2007 to 2017, she was the director of CEU’s Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy. Her research focuses on the synergies between environmental and societal goals – for example, how highly energy-efficient building retrofits advance societies’ health, economic welfare, energy security, productivity, energy poverty eradication, new business opportunities and environmental aspirations. Many of her research projects and publications focus on cities and the built environment, and on the opportunities in these that can both reduce urban climate impacts such as heat waves, and contribute to poverty eradication, more liveable and better air quality cities, and increase urban well-being.
“We are immensely proud to see Diana Urge-Vorsatz, a CEU faculty member, being recognized on the world stage,” said CEU President and Rector Shalini Randeria. “In her teaching and research, she builds bridges across the different disciplines of natural and social sciences, the global South and North, the endowed and the underprivileged. This sensitivity to diverse perspectives, combined with her particular focus on climate-friendly construction and architecture, provides a disciplinary breadth and scientific depth that makes her an ideal IPCC Vice-Chair.”
The new IPCC Bureau, elected between July 25-28, consists of 34 members. Alongside her position as IPCC Vice-Chair, Professor Urge-Vorsatz is also a member of the UN’s Expert Group on the Synergies between Climate Goals and Sustainable Development Goals, and she serves on the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Foresight Expert Group.