In the early 21st century, the most important climate research centers in Europe (those with scientists participating in the steering committees of the World Climate Research Programme [WCRP] or with leading authors in the last IPCC report) were basically located in the core European area focused around Paris, London and Berlin. Europe’s periphery lacked significant climate research centers contributing to this core, which probably reflects the recognized delay in scientific development in these areas.

At the same time, and with growing consensus, climate research results identified the Mediterranean region as one of the most important climatichotspots on the planet (i.e. regions with greater climate change and resulting associated impacts). This combination of factors was identified in 2004 by researchers at Barcelona Science Park’s Climate Research Laboratory (LRC-PCB) as an empty niche, ready and lacking any key players on the large Mediterranean scene.

The possibility of establishing an international climate research center in Southern Europe, with the aim of becoming a major climate science center in the Mediterranean, was proposed to the Department of Innovation, University and Business (now known as the Department of Economy and Knowledge), the public body in charge of research and innovation policies in the Catalan Regional Government. The proposal was well received and two years later, in July 2008, the non-profit organization Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences (Fundació Institut Català de Ciències del Clima) was founded, with the former head of the LRC-PCB, Dr. Xavier Rodó, appointed as its first Director.

In the short period of time that has elapsed since its creation, the young and dynamic Institute has grown from an initial core staff of six people from LRC-PCB to more than 40 researchers, technicians and other support staff working in the Institute as at December 31, 2011. In these three and a half years, three research units, two labs and a fully operational support administration were established, a new corporate headquarters was found and granted and the basic research infrastructure was secured and set up. In the Annual Reports as well as in the "News" section, the vistor can check the outstanding scientific results and institutional achievements of such a young institution. IC3's greatest success, however, has probably been to become a internationally recognized player in the climate research arena despite the overall uncertainty that cast shadows over all newborn research institutions.