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Avoiding dangerous climate change: Development and application of an anatomy of climate-related vulnerabilities to address the ultimate objective of the Framework convention on climate change

Final Activity Report Summary - AVODACC (Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change: Development and Application of an Anatomy of Climate-related Vulnerabilities of the Framework convention on climate change)

The main research topic of this fellowship was the model-based integrated assessment of climate change. The fellow applied multidisciplinary computer models to identify and evaluate global climate policies that constrain the risk of 'dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system', as referred to in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He discovered that previous model-based climate policy analyses had used inconsistent methods to determine the costs of climate protection, and that they made inappropriate assumptions about uncertainties in the climate system. The fellow identified more consistent assessment methods, which lead to improved estimates of the risk of dangerous climate change and enable a correct specification of the social costs associated with reaching different risk levels. These results significantly improve the information basis for international climate policy. The findings regarding costing methods have already influenced, for example, the widely cited Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.

Another major research area was the improvement of methods for climate change vulnerability assessment. The fellow developed a conceptual framework of vulnerability to climate change that integrates the main research traditions of vulnerability assessment: natural hazards, political economy, social geography, and resilience. This work clarifies the widespread conceptual confusion in vulnerability research and facilitates the integration of these diverse research traditions in efforts to reduce the risks from global climate change. The fellow further identified criteria for selecting key vulnerabilities of climate change, which assist stakeholders in defining dangerous levels of climate change. These criteria were applied for selecting key vulnerabilities in the Working Group II contribution of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, to which the fellow contributed as author and review editor.

The expertise of the fellow was requested by scientific institutions and stakeholders worldwide. The fellow gave several invited presentations (including a keynote presentation) at international conferences and other scientific meetings, he advised national governments and the European Commission on the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, and he contributed to the 2007 report of the United Nations' Special Expert Group on Climate Change.