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Transitions pathways and risk analysis for climate change mitigation and adaption strategies

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - TRANSrisk (Transitions pathways and risk analysis for climate change mitigation and adaption strategies)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2018-12-31

TRANSrisk was a study of technically, economically and sociably feasible low carbon transitions. It focused on understanding risk and uncertainty within these transitions. Our work improved the ability of policy makers to plan low carbon transitions and to understand risks and uncertainties that lie in their implementation. Our project had two key objectives:

• Assess low emission transition pathways that are technically & economically feasible, and socially & environmentally acceptable.
• Bring together quantitative models and qualitative approaches, focusing on participatory consultations with stakeholders.

The majority of our work took place within the context of country case studies (Figure 1).

Our results can be split into two areas: narrative conclusions from the case studies (covered here) and technical/ academic outputs (covered in the following two sections). Across our case studies economic, social, political and environmental factors varied enormously, presenting a varied pattern of risks, opportunities and challenges to low-carbon technologies, associated policies and behavioural changes. This was reflected in the diverse set of risks identified in each case study. This said, there are broad common risks across many, or all, of our case studies. These include:

• Investment risks, increasing the financing costs for low carbon technologies.
• Cost barriers and lack of ‘buy in’ from end users.
• Governance issues, lack of co-operation between layers of Government and poor confidence in Government support schemes.
• Public resistance and ingrained social practices.
• Entrenched support for existing technologies.
• (Lack of) identification and mitigation of both environmental and social negative co-effects.
TRANSrisk’s work can be framed around 4 key areas:

Stakeholder analysis. TRANSrisk developed a new approach to stakeholder engagement and the co-creation of transition pathways. This approach developed and used stakeholder consultation tools and techniques, and closely integrated numerical modelling and stakeholder engagement. This approach helped to ground modelling in the lived experience of stakeholders, and quickly showed stakeholders the projected impact of policy options. The process, and the tools developed to assist this, were documented in D2.1 D2.2 D2.3 D2.4 and D4.3. In D2.5 we explained how the tools developed were applied in Kenya, whilst D3.3 provided a complete overview of all TRANSrisk case studies. They will be of use to academics and policy makers running stakeholder engagement activities.

Assessing uncertainties and risks. We carried out an extensive literature review to identify the theoretical gaps, helping us to develop an overarching framing of risk and uncertainty used across our country case studies. Risks could be broadly separated into implementation risks and consequential risks, with the latter being far less widely researched and understood than the former. The framework was applied in all of the TRANSrisk case studies, and our findings heavily documented in the WP5 Deliverables. Two policy briefs were produced on ‘risks and policies’, which will be of interest to policy makers, academics and anyone else seeking a better understanding of potential risks within low carbon transitions.

Synergies, conflicts and participatory scenario development. This workstream had a focus on co-benefits, which was important to balance the strong emphasis on risks and uncertainties in the other work areas of the project. Findings were written up in WP4 Deliverables and several policy briefs, and will be of interest to policy makers working on energy/ climate and other fields related to co-benefits (e.g. air quality, economic development, etc). Findings included strong synergies between air quality and climate change objectives, which could significantly improve the cost/ benefit ratio of climate policies. Energy access and climate aims in African countries are also synergetic. By contrast, if they are not carefully managed, (negative) land use impacts from renewable energy deployment in Japan, Korea and the EU could significant offset the carbon savings envisaged.

Innovation policies and transition pathways. We implemented a ‘bottom up’ approach to assess how agency at the firm and individual household level could provide insights on sociotechnological transitions and the potential implications of innovation policies. Sector and institutional level approaches was also used to identify ‘game changer’ technologies for energy transition pathways. Our final outputs in this area examined the research tools, approaches and methods used in case studies and discussed the results of applying these tools. We also explored innovation policies and transition pathways through mixed-method methodologies. These methods helped draw comparisons across transition pathways in different geographical and socio-economic contexts. Generalisable policy insights and recommendations were produced, and two toolboxes (described in D7.3) were developed to support policymakers in considering technologies and policies for climate mitigation strategies.

All of our work was disseminated through a range of channels, including:

• Scientific publications, including a special issue journal and two TRANSrisk books.
• Publications for policymakers and the public, including policy briefs, videos and newsletter/ web articles.
• Events aimed at policymakers, and both one-to-one and group discussions with key stakeholders.
TRANSrisk engaged widely through its case study workshops and interviews, e.g. with policy makers, NGOs and industry bodies. Results were fed back to stakeholders, and the partnerships created are being utilised by both parties in order to better understand developments in low carbon technologies and their deployment. We organised events aimed at policy makers, produced policy briefs and had a presence at three UNFCCC COP meetings. Policy impacts will continue to be seen as TRANSrisk’s work is fed into national and regional level policy making over the coming years, for example through TRANSrisk partners engaging in policy developments using TRANSrisk outputs to evidence their advice and views.

Exploitation of research results varies from case study to case study, with some key results being:

Greece. The methodological framework and results from the Greek case study influenced elements of the country’s 4th National Energy Efficiency Action Plan.

Kenya. Work on charcoal and geothermal developments in Kenya were presented to Government stakeholders during a three-day workshop in Kenya, and were well received.

Indonesia. We anticipate that results of the biogas case study will be incorporated by the Indonesian Government within the next mid-term planning period (the RPJMN for 2020-24 which also addresses rural poverty).

Canada. The Canadian case study gained interest from North American integrated assessment modellers who are interested in our methods, and how the priorities and perspectives of a First Nations community can be included in IAMs (Integrated Assessment Models).
Map of TRANSrisk country case studies
Simplified diagram showing how modeling and stakeholder input are integrated in TRANSrisk