Hilda Blanco Selected Lead Author for Climate Report

SPPD’s Hilda Blanco Selected as Lead Author for Climate Change Assessment Report

From SPPD staff reports

Hilda BlancoHilda Blanco, director of the USC Center for Sustainable Cities
Photo by Dan Avila

USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development research professor Hilda Blanco has been selected as lead author to prepare the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). More than 800 scientists have been selected to prepare the 2014 global assessment, and Blanco is the only faculty member at USC to be chosen, and one of three U.S. urban planning academics.

The IPCC is the foremost international, intergovernmental, scientific body for the assessment of climate change. Established by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization, the panel seeks to provide a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts, the IPPC Web site states. For its scientific work, the IPCC was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, shared with Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore for his work on climate change.

“I am honored to have been selected,” Blanco said. “The IPCC is a unique scientific collaboration, aimed at synthesizing what we know about climate change science, and going beyond that, instrumental in advances in climate modeling and scenario development. The IPCC is unique in its interdisciplinary thrust and even more significant, it serves as the most important effort to bridge science and policy on the momentous challenge the planet faces today. It’s a model of what the future of science and policy will be.”

According to the IPCC site, the assessment report will provide “an update of knowledge on the scientific, technical and socio-economic aspects of climate change.” The AR5 will consist of three working group reports and a synthesis report, to be completed in 2013-2014:

  • Working Group I — The Physical Science Basis (mid-September 2013)
  • Working Group II — Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (mid-March 2014)
  • Working Group III — Mitigation of Climate Change (early April 2014)
  • Synthesis Report (October 2014)

This past March, Blanco was invited to participate in the IPCC’s Joint Expert Meeting on “Human Settlements and Infrastructure — Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies” in Kolkata, India, which brought together urban and planning experts to advise Working Group II and III bureaus, and coordinating lead authors of the relevant chapters.

Blanco’s recent work on climate change included a similar assignment; she served as a coordinating lead author on urban land issues in a volume on Climate Change and Cities published this spring by Cambridge University Press. At the expert meeting, she made a major presentation on the role of spatial planning in mitigating and adapting to climate change and participated in various panels.

Afterward, she was invited by the group co-chairs to become a lead author for the Working Group III chapter focusing on “Human settlements, infrastructure, and spatial planning.”

The major task of the lead authors is to frame the key issues, and to synthesize and assess research results and evidence published on the topics covered by the chapters. In addition, lead authors must also identify contributing authors to address remaining gaps in expertise.

Working Group III lead authors met in July in Changwon, South Korea. The purpose of this initial meeting was to arrive at an outline, writing assignments and gaps in expertise.

The preparation of the chapters for the global assessment will involve several levels of review, drafting and revision over the next four years.