"In mid-April, hundreds of scientists from around the world were supposed to fly to Ecuador for a five-day meeting about the latest research on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
It was an important event. The scientists are writing part of a crucial global climate science report scheduled for release next year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the part of the United Nations that assesses global climate science. National governments rely on the multi-chapter report to anchor international climate negotiations and to set greenhouse gas emissions targets.
But the pandemic forced the IPCC to hold April's in-person meeting online. Smaller scientific gatherings scheduled for the spring and summer also met remotely.
It was an inadvertent test of a question that has loomed over international climate science for years: Can climate experts support the United Nations effectively without requiring scientists to fly all over the world for meetings?"