Terms of Reference




Our Climate is changing all the time due to a number of various causes, internal as well as external, natural as well as anthropogenic. Observational and theoretical evidence suggest that the ice ages, which are the largest systematic changes of the Earth’s climate, result from the changing latitudinal and seasonal distribution of solar irradiation related to the cycling of the Earth’s orbital parameters. A much better understanding of the natural variations of climate is fundamental for a credible assessment of the human contribution to climate change, now and in the future. The Commission on Climatic and Environmental Change (CCEC) is an international forum to advance the science of climate and global change and make available the scientific knowledge and methods that assist in promoting environmental and public welfare in the face of climate variability and change. The climatic and environmental changes considered by the commission include (but are not limited to) the response of the atmosphere, oceans, glaciers, sea level, water resources, ocean acidification, Earth rotation, gravity, and shape, biogeochemistry to climate warming.


Advancing scientific understanding of climatic and environmental change is necessarily interdisciplinary, building on fundamental understanding of the functioning of the atmosphere (IAMAS), the oceans (IAPSO), the hydrologic cycle (IAHS), the cryosphere (IACS), solar interactions (IAGA), solid Earth changes (IAG, e.g., the Global Geodetic Observing System, GGOS), as well as the land surface processes and external manifestations, such as volcanoes, of interior processes of the Earth (IAVCEI, IASPEI).  Links with other fields not represented in the IUGG such as forestry, agricultural sciences and health sciences are also necessary to gain a proper understanding of climate change effects.




The CCEC operates as a Union Commission within IUGG. The CCEC was established by the Executive Committee of the IUGG in 2012 in order to promote the advancement of scientific understanding of climatic and environmental change, to boost research in reducing uncertainties in climate and environmental models, to define criteria for collaborative trans-disciplinary research on climate and environmental change, to fulfill the objectives of the IUGG and its associations, to provide an all-Union perspective on climatic and environmental change, and to make available the knowledge and insights developed through scientific research to the benefit of society and planet Earth, including consideration of the science of global change, related vulnerability and impacts, and potential responses.


The CCEC provides a focus for the IUGG scientific expertise in climate and environment related areas across the breadth of all IUGG disciplines and associations. The CCEC enables the breadth of the IUGG expertise to be brought to bear at the global level through collaborating with, and underpinning the work of the ICSU and other international organizations.  It also enables the geographic dissemination of the IUGG expertise to be brought to bear at the local level through involvement with national bodies in the organization of meetings and other activities.




  • To build a scientific capacity for responsibly addressing the broad, multi-disciplinary issues involved in climatic and environmental change;
  • To provide reliable information, interpretation of research results, and support to the public and governmental organizations;
  • To interact and cooperate with outside activities that would benefit from the capabilities and resources of the IUGG Associations; and
  • To strengthen links across the Scientific Associations within the IUGG, to build new external links to organizations outside the IUGG, to strengthen existing links to external organizations and to promote IUGG’s contribution to global change research. 

Executive Committee


The Executive Committee consists of Commission Officers, a Representatives’ Committee and co-opted members and the immediate Past Chair.  The officers are a Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary-Treasurer. The Representatives’ Committee consists of two representatives from each participating IUGG Association.  The Representatives’ Committee may co-opt up to four persons (irrespective of IUGG Association) to become members of the Executive Committee. The Representatives’ Committee elects the officers – namely the Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary-Treasurer, who do not necessarily need to be one of the designated representatives from an IUGG Association.  Representation on the Executive Committee, irrespective of leadership roles, is for a 4 year term, renewable once.


Cognate groupings such as SCOR, SCAR, the Union Commission on Geophysical Risk and Sustainability, or the WMO Commission on Climate, may send observers to meetings of the executive committee.

  • In advance of an IUGG General Assembly (every 4 years), each IUGG Association will be asked to nominate experts to sit on the CCEC Executive Committee, in cases where a position is vacant. 
  • Prior to or during an IUGG General Assembly, the Representatives’ Committee shall select officers of the Commission: a Chair, a Vice-Chair, and a Secretary/Treasurer.  
  • The IUGG Vice-President shall be informed about the results of the election prior to, or during, the IUGG General Assembly. The list of CCEC officers is subject to approval by the IUGG Bureau and their term of office shall start immediately after the IUGG General Assembly. 
  • Any motions put to the CCEC must be passed by a two-thirds majority of the Executive Committee.


  • Membership of the CCEC is option to all scientists who commit to the CCEC purpose and objectives. 
  • Membership of the CCEC does not lapse. However, members may be removed by the Executive Committee if they are inactive for a period of at least 4 years. 
  • The CCEC Secretary shall keep an up-to-date register of members.



* The CCEC shall meet during IUGG General Assemblies and at scientific events the commission organizes. 




* The CCEC shall submit activity and financial reports to the IUGG Secretary General annually and a quadrennial report 5 months before the IUGG General Assembly.




  • The CCEC shall have access to funds allocated by the IUGG. 
  • The CCEC Secretary/Treasurer shall collect funds, make payments and keep correct accounts and books showing the financial affairs of the CCEC. 
  • The IUGG contributes up to US $5000 dollars annually to defray the costs of running the Commission; The small core budget is necessary as seed funding to ensure initial activities of the Commission and thus provide a basis for Commission members to seek additional resources on an activity-specific, or project, basis.
  • The CCEC shall normally be reviewed by the Executive Committee of the IUGG every 4 years. 
  • The CCEC will terminate its activities through a decision of the IUGG Executive Committee.