Federal Coordinating Lead Author:
David Reidmiller, U.S. Global Change Research Program
Lead Author:
Katherine Weingartner, U.S. Global Change Research Program/ICF (through September 2017)
Contributing Authors:
Apurva Dave, U.S. Global Change Research Program/ICF

Looking Abroad: How Other Nations Approach a National Climate Assessment


Brazil released a National Assessment Report on Climate Change (RAN1) in 2013. The report was produced by a national scientific panel established by the government and was modeled on the Assessment Reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The RAN1 describes observed and projected impacts, assesses vulnerabilities in different national sectors and regions, and identifies options for adaptation measures. The report is intended to inform the development of the country’s national planning activities related to climate change.

Assessment Mandate and Objectives

While Brazil does not have a nationally mandated climate assessment, the government has recognized the need for a national scientific body capable of providing policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels with objective information on the environmental, social, and economic effects of climate change. To this end, the Brazilian Panel on Climate Change (PBMC) was created in 2009 by a joint ordinance of the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication.

The structure of the PBMC is based on the IPCC and includes a Steering Committee, Scientific Committee, Executive Secretariat, Working Groups, and Technical Support Units. The Panel is responsible for creating a range of policy-relevant products, including National Assessment Reports that provide a comprehensive scientific assessment of climate changes relevant to Brazil, Special Reports focusing on specific topics, and Technical Reports to help develop methods for monitoring and evaluating Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions. The PBMC represents the first national effort to consolidate and organize existing knowledge on climate change in Brazil onto a single platform. The Panel’s report is intended to support the development and implementation of public policies such as the National Plan on Climate Change, Sectoral Mitigation and Adaptation Plans to Climate Change, and the National Adaptation Plan. As of October 2017, the RAN1 was the only national assessment report published by the Panel.

Assessment Process

Under the supervision of the PBMC’s Steering Committee, the RAN1 report was written by approximately 100 scientists drawn from national research institutions and distributed across the Panel’s three Working Groups (WGs), each of which composed a separate volume for the report. The Panel’s Scientific Committee, composed of the coordinators of the WGs, developed the scope of each WG volume, coordinated the drafting of the report, and provided guidance to authors and reviewers throughout the process. The Panel’s Steering Committee selected the authors through a public call, approved the Scientific Committee’s proposed scoping for the report, approved the various drafts, and provided general direction for the Panel’s work. At the end of the process, a Summary for Policy Makers was approved by the PBMC Plenary, which included the Steering and Scientific Committees’ memberships, as well as representatives from federal and state governments. In the RAN1, the PBMC made use of the work of a range of observational and modeling research programs that have recently been developed in Brazil at the national and state levels.

Assessment Content Structure

The RAN1 report consists of three separate volumes, each of which is produced by one of the PBMC’s three WGs and matches the structure of the IPCC Assessment Reports: Volume 1: The Scientific Basis of Climate Change; Volume 2: Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation; Volume 3: Mitigation of Climate Change. Volume 1 surveys the current state of the scientific knowledge of climate change in Brazil and South America. Volume 2 evaluates the projected climate impacts and vulnerabilities across a range of natural systems, in five national regions (Northern, Northeast, Southern, Southeast, Center-West), and in key societal sectors (Rural and Urban communities, Energy, Industry, and Transportation). A topic receiving special focus is the impact of climate change on human health, well-being, and safety. Each volume was originally drafted in Portuguese but also has an accompanying Executive Summary in English.

International Dimensions

The RAN1 report does not explicitly consider the international dimensions of the impacts of climate change on Brazil. Some findings of the assessment were, however, incorporated into Brazil’s 2016 National Communication, which it shared with the international community as part of its United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reporting requirements. The work of the PBMC is also intended to support international cooperation among developing countries and help countries build their capacity to respond to climate change through the sharing of assessment methodologies, the knowledge gained from these assessments, and Brazil’s own national experiences with climate change. This is part of the PBMC’s efforts to advance greater South–South dissemination and capacity building. The PBMC also received support from the British Government’s Department for International Development.

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