Contributing to climate science: our new observer status at the IPCC

The admission of The SeaCleaners as an observer member of the IPCC is a milestone in the history of our association. By collaborating with world experts, we are strengthening our participation and our impact in the fight against climate change and the protection of the ocean. Our voice will be heard in political decisions and our commitment to climate science will be strengthened.

We are delighted to announce that The SeaCleaners has been accepted as an observer member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)!

This international recognition reinforces our commitment to climate research in relation to ocean plastic pollution. This new role will enable our International Scientific Council and The SeaCleaners team to work closely with the world’s leading experts to contribute to the IPCC reports. It’s an exceptional opportunity and an honor to contribute to the work of this prestigious group.

A quick reminder: the IPCC is an intergovernmental body that studies the impact of human activity on climate change. It was created at the end of 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It gathers, evaluates and synthesizes scientific, technical and socio-economic information on climate change, its consequences and possible adaptation strategies worldwide.

Almost all the world’s countries (195) are members of the IPCC. Its experts do not carry out research as such, but condense existing literature, particularly on global warming. In this way, they build up a common body of knowledge, while at the same time echoing current debates in the scientific community. For example,


A step towards global action

Throughout this process, observer members play an essential role in the production of IPCC reports, contributing to the development of knowledge on climate change and providing objective elements for governments to draw up policies in this field. This is a unique opportunity to influence, even on a small scale, global climate policies, and in particular the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

As an observer member, The SeaCleaners will also have access to the IPCC’s full assessment reports. Bringing together thousands of scientists from all over the world, The SeaCleaners will be able to establish international collaborations, exchange knowledge and strengthen its network.

Join the experts

The SeaCleaners could also propose a research topic: because a group of scientists can respond to a call for applications issued by the IPCC when it is looking for authors for its reports. Once selected, they work in collaboration with other authors, condensing existing literature and identifying scientific consensus.

Being associated with the IPCC confers significant scientific credibility. The reports are based on solid evidence and are recognized as references in the climate field. As a member, The SeaCleaners is now associated with this scientific rigor.

On the other hand, being an observer member of the IPCC brings with it a huge responsibility. From now on, The SeaCleaners must actively contribute to the work of the IPCC, taking part in meetings and drafting reports, all the while respecting standards. This recognition testifies to our commitment to scientific research, the fight against plastic pollution and climate change, and the promotion of sustainable and engaging policies. Thank you all for supporting us in our daily battle.

More than ever, the admission of The SeaCleaners as an observer member of the IPCC makes sense, and is significant because plastic pollution and climate change are closely linked. For the record, here are six points that demonstrate this correlation (we have also published several articles on the subject in previous newsletters):

  1. Extraction and production: plastic is made from fossil fuels, accounting for around 6% of global oil consumption. By 2060, this production is set to triple, resulting in massive greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Greenhouse gas emissions: in 2015, emissions from plastics were 1.7 gigatons of CO₂ equivalent (Gt CO₂ eq) and are expected to reach around 6.5 Gt CO₂ eq by 2050, representing 15% of the global carbon budget.
  3. Consumption: we’ve stated it (if not shouted it loud and clear) several times on our site, only 9% of the world’s plastic is recycled, the rest ends up in nature.
  4. End of life: unrecycled plastic waste emits greenhouse gases as it decomposes in air and water. Around 18 million tonnes of plastic from South Asia end up in the oceans, emitting methane and ethylene, powerful greenhouse gases, under the effect of salt and solar radiation.
    Feedback loop: as our climate changes, the planet warms up, and plastic decomposes into more methane and ethylene.