Creating workable scenarios to deal with climate change
It is widely accepted that the climate is changing and that the impact of this is likely to be severe. EU-funded research has proposed various pathways for adapting to climate change through an integrated and cross-sector approach.
© Leo Lintang #138643877, 2019 source:stock.adobe.com
Predicting the consequences of climate change is highly complex as it interacts with and is influenced by many other factors, including socio-economic change, human capacity to adapt, consumption patterns and sustainability goals.
To try to make sense of such complexities and help European policymakers design solutions based on sound information, the EU-funded IMPRESSIONS project has developed an innovative modelling framework. This is based on four possible scenarios which the team has applied to five case studies in Scotland, Iberia, Hungary, Europe as a whole, and Central Asia.
The project used a wide range of different models to explore the impacts of high-end climate change on agriculture, biodiversity, urban development, forestry, water resources, flooding and human health. It considered interactions between these different sectors as they compete for resources such as land, water and energy and, where possible, took account of interactions across scales, such as how trade flows at the global level define the level of food imports to Europe.
Finding the right path
Three main pathways emerged as common to all studies, says project coordinator Professor Paula Harrison. These are the areas that stakeholders felt really underpinned efforts to adapt and cope with climate change.
They include: shifting towards sustainable lifestyles through education and awareness raising; good governance with longer-term visions based on sustainability, transparency and participation; and integrated resource management that takes account of the multifunctional nature of our landscapes and aims to ensure both resource security and environmental protection, whilst moving towards self sufficiency.
The results of the IMPRESSIONS project are presented on the High-End Solutions Information Hub. This online platform provides all the outputs of the project in an easily accessible format, and addresses five main questions:
What could a future above 2 °C look like? What are the consequences of a future above 2 °C? What do we want the future to look like? How do we get there? Who and what are the solutions?
One of the key messages to emerge from our research is just how interdependent all of these global issues are, says Harrison. In order to develop robust and sustainable solutions, it is vital that we take account of this interdependence. Policy, like science, cannot operate efficiently in a silo, she concludes.