The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has completed its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). Here, we explore the social scientific networks informing Working Group III (WGIII) assessment of mitigation for the AR5. Identifying authors’ institutional pathways, we highlight the persistence and extent of North–South inequalities in the authorship of the report, revealing the dominance of US and UK institutions as training sites for WGIII authors. Examining patterns of co-authorship between WGIII authors, we identify the unevenness in co-authoring relations, with a small number of authors co-writing regularly and indicative of an epistemic community’s influence over the IPCC’s definition of mitigation. These co-authoring networks follow regional patterns, with significant EU–BRICS collaboration and authors from the US relatively insular. From a disciplinary perspective, economists, engineers, physicists and natural scientists remain central to the process, with insignificant participation of scholars from the humanities. The shared training and career paths made apparent through our analysis suggest that the idea that broader geographic participation may lead to a wider range of viewpoints and cultural understandings of climate change mitigation may not be as sound as previously thought.
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