Making policy-relevant knowledge in the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 degrees: An analysis of reviewer comments

Jasmine E. Livingston, Markku Rummukainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) maintains a fine balance between scientific credibility and policy-relevance. The IPCC's review process plays an important role in ensuring that this takes place. This paper looks at the review process of the Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees (SR15) published in 2018. We apply a framework for the making of policy-relevant knowledge – that of salience, legitimacy, and credibility – to investigate the acts of knowledge selection, and conflicts over what constitutes policy-relevant knowledge on climate change. We find that knowledge is shaped through discussions surrounding the themes of scope, communication, framing, and IPCC procedures and evidence, and that these themes were articulated in different ways in relation to salience, credibility and legitimacy. Our analysis shows how the practices of salience, legitimacy and credibility interact with each other in the making of policy-relevant knowledge. In particular we see that a focus on credibility and salience, whilst central may take place at the expense of legitimacy. Overall we see that this interplay in the review was important in shaping the story of the SR15, and the knowledge that gets included in the final SPM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-314
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Climate Research

Free keywords

  • Credibility
  • IPCC
  • Legitimacy
  • Policy-relevance
  • Review
  • Salience


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