EU Science Hub

Indicators for climate extremes and socio-economic impacts under different emission targets

Oct 04 2017

To better guide policy decision-making on mitigating the risk of climate change, novel and interdisciplinary approaches are required, which involve a dialogue between scientists from different communities (e.g., climate and impact modelling) and stakeholders to share data and knowledge. Credible and meaningful metrics need to be developed that can help quantifying risks related to physical climate change.

Building on a Future Earth workshop on “Extreme Events and Environments” and a WCRP workshop on “Addressing the Challenge of Compound Events”, this workshop aims at providing practical discussion on climate-related impacts to be expected for different emission scenarios, knowledge gaps and indicators that can facilitate decision-making on climate risk mitigation and adaptation planning across various sectors.

Negotiations during the 21st UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP21) meeting in Paris 2015 have led to a historical agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the average rise in global mean temperature to well below 2 °C with respect to pre-industrial climate. ‘Pre-industrial’ is a relative term and not defined, thus might as well be translated into changes above a present-day baseline1. However, we lack sufficient knowledge about the socio-economic implications of limiting global warming to a certain temperature or the consequences of exceeding this, particularly if we talk about half a degree. Physical climate impacts are already observed in many regions of the world and increasingly challenge decision-makers.

Today and in the near future, the most severe impacts are caused by rare events manifesting themselves in extreme weather or the combination of physical processes leading to a severe impact, also referred to as a “compound events". Currently it is very difficult to translate changes in global temperatures or frequency of these rare events into actual risks in specific sectors or locations and express these in monetary terms. Focused research on the sources of physical climate risk exists, however climate projections come usually without risk information, while most studies on socio-economic consequences have only vague references to specific climate projections.

1Hawkins, E. et al. (2017) Estimating changes in global temperatures since the pre-industrial period, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0007.1 or see



The main objective of this workshop is to bring together scientists and stakeholders from different disciplines and sectors in order to discuss how to use or develop new metrics for climate change risk assessment for different warming levels. Our aim is to

  • Discuss how climate-related hazards are related to socio-economic impacts for different emission scenarios
  • Add value to decision-making via improved indicators and tools for providing and communicating climate change information
  • Design of useful compound indices supporting decision-making The findings of the workshop will be summarized in a short report, which will be the basis for a peer-reviewed publication (e.g., commentary or perspective paper) on the workshop topic.



Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission, Ispra, Italy. Bld 36 (amphitheatre), Via Enrico Fermi 2749, 21027 Ispra, Italy