Paula Harrison (United Kingdom) 1; Impressions Partners (Belgium) 2
1 - Centre for Ecology & Hydrology; 2 - www.impressions-project.eu
We are not yet on track to meet the Paris Agreement goal to keep global mean temperatures below 2oC (and ideally below 1.5oC) above pre-industrial levels. Without early and drastic emissions reductions, high-end climate scenarios (global mean temperature > 2oC) are very plausible. However, there are few studies that simultaneously assess their potential impacts, the ability of adaptation options to reduce vulnerabilities, and their potential synergies and trade-offs with mitigation.
The IMPRESSIONS project aimed to improve scientific understanding of the consequences of high-end climate change and support the use of this knowledge by decision-makers working on adaptation and mitigation. The main objectives were to develop new scenarios and models of the impacts of high levels of climate change under different socio-economic scenarios, and to assess different adaptation and mitigation options in five case studies at different geographical scales (Europe, Central Asia, Scotland, Hungary and Iberia), in order to help decision-makers identify strategies that are robust for a range of possible futures.
In-depth interviews have been undertaken to ascertain the needs of stakeholders, their capacities to use information in decision-making processes, and drivers and barriers they face. In response to this information the project has co-created an integrated set of multi-scale, high-end climate and socio-economic scenarios with stakeholders in participatory workshops. These scenarios have been applied to improved models for analysing impacts and vulnerability, including the complex interactions, synergies and trade-offs between different sectors (agriculture, forestry, water, biodiversity, urban, health). Finally, adaptation and mitigation pathways have been generated with stakeholders to inform integrated and transformative solutions to these uncertain, but potentially high-risk, scenarios of the future.
Stakeholders perceive that their adaptation-related decision-making processes may be more affected by socio-economic than climate factors; they ask for integrative modelling that takes this into account and is tailored to decision-making processes. Combining model-led trends with stakeholder-led socio-economic trends has provided a unique set of comparable yet stakeholder-relevant multi-scale scenarios. Three common cross-scale pathways for climate action were identified: shifting to sustainable lifestyles; new governance for sustainability and climate resilience; and new forms of resource management including water and energy. Analysis of the adaptation and mitigation pathways shows that beyond the 2oC threshold, conventional solutions to adaptation and mitigation may prove not to be enough. Transformative solutions aimed at implementing radically different institutional arrangements, searching for synergies between adaptation and mitigation and linking them to sustainable development become increasingly important.