Advancing the use of scenarios to understand society’s capacity to act towards achieving the 1.5ºC target

16:15 Wednesday 29 May


Room S6


Simona Pedde (Netherlands) 1,2; Kasper Kok (Netherlands) 1; Katharina Hölscher (Netherlands) 3; Ian Holman (United Kingdom) 4; Rob Dunford (Netherlands) 5; Niki Frantzeskaki (Netherlands) 3; Jill Jäger (Austria) 6; Alison Smith (United Kingdom) 7

1 - Wageningen University and Research; 2 - Center of Ecology and Hydrology (UK); 3 - DRIFT; 4 - Cranfield University; 5 - CEH; 6 - Independent Scholar; 7 - Oxofrd University

With several possible pathways to a sustainable future that are compatible with the Paris Agreement 1.5ºC target, scenario analysis has emerged as a key tool in studies of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Consequently, a wide range of alternative socio-economic and climate scenarios have been created. Core amongst these are the global Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) and Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). Whilst a mitigation scenario has been developed for each SSPxRCP combination, describing the additional mitigation actions necessary to match the RCP, there has been no systematic study of whether or how these actions can be enabled in practice.

We present a novel and transferable approach to understand society`s capacity to act towards achieving the 1.5ºC target using the SSPxRCP framework. We do this in four case studies from continental to sub-national scale in Europe. This involves identifying the elements that ‘enable’ climate action in each SSP through an assessment of i) the five capital stocks available for society to draw upon (human, social, natural, financial and manufactured capital), and ii) the four capacities (stewarding, unlocking, transformative and orchestrating) enabling change to take place through leveraging and being able to access these capitals.

The methodology builds on a framework for categorising different types of capacities and capitals in SSPxRCP scenarios and their impact on different types of societal transformative actions. The SSPxRCP scenarios were developed in participatory workshops for each case study, with stakeholders determining the levels of capitals available within each scenario. Subsequently, capacities were analysed for each SSPxRCP to assess who in the scenario narrative has the potential for transformation. We assess the capitals together with the capacities in each SSP for each case study to categorise society’s potential to act towards a sustainable and equitable world, compatible with the 1.5ºC target.

No scenario results in full potential to act towards a sustainable and equitable world, although SSP1 has generally the highest potential. Analysis of similarities and differences across case studies shows that the two environmentally friendly scenarios, SSP1 and SSP4, have very different potentials to transform, with SSP1 having a much higher potential than SSP4. This is due to continued social inequalities in SSP4 which restrict the capacity to transform, despite high economic growth. In the two least environmentally friendly scenarios, SSP3 and SSP5, the potential to transform is low except in certain case studies where SSP5 is assumed to have higher capitals and lower social inequality.