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DownScaling CLImate imPACTs and decarbonisation pathways in EU islands, and enhancing socioeconomic and non-market evaluation of Climate Change for Europe, for 2050 and beyond.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SOCLIMPACT (DownScaling CLImate imPACTs and decarbonisation pathways in EU islands, and enhancing socioeconomic and non-market evaluation of Climate Change for Europe, for 2050 and beyond.)

Reporting period: 2019-06-01 to 2021-03-31

SOCLIMPACT addresses the problem of downscaled modelling climate change (CC) impacts in islands' Blue Economy sectors. European islands support unique ecosystems that are home to around one-third of the globally threatened species. Islands play a substantial role in the European economy, acting as hubs for most Blue Economy sectors. However, current climate risk assessments for Europe do not allow deriving valid statements for islands, thus limiting climate action. For small islands, their openness to explore new trajectories may also lead to greater flexibility in decision-making, by implementing environmental policies that reduce both the exposure to external economic fluctuations and the vulnerability to CC. Thus, EU islands can become the masterpieces and living labs of the EU climate strategies, generating a real added value for Europe.
SOCLIMPACT models downscaled CC effects and their socio-economic impacts in European islands and archipelagos until 2100 in the context of the Blue Economy, and proposes tailored adaptation pathways.
The specific objectives are as follows:
- To run downscaled and high resolution nested simulations of CC impacts at islands’ level by the expansion of coupled ocean-atmosphere models consistent with low and high impact socioeconomic pathways scenarios;
- To nourish downscaled modelling of socioeconomic impacts of CC, by conducting economic non-market valuation and integrating them into macroeconomic models for the islands; and
- To provide society and decision makers in the islands with useful information to better understand the environmental and socioeconomic consequences of CC by ranking the more appropriate and viable adaptation and risk management measures.
The work is developed on 12 EU islands and outermost regions. Among the sectors of relevance to these insular economies, it focuses on Maritime Transport, Tourism, Energy and Aquaculture. The action contributes to feed the participatory design of well-informed and effective adaptation pathways, delivering information in a harmonized way across islands that are characterized by different climate conditions and impacts.
After 40 months of intensive work, and notwithstanding the need to reframe some of the final face-to-face work due to the emergence of COVID-19, the project completed all its tasks with satisfactory results.
The main achievements can be summarized as follows:
- Downscaled projections of CC risks for 12 EU islands (sea level rise, flooding, beach reduction, seagrass evolution, fire danger, etc.), under low and high impact scenarios and three time horizons: a baseline period (1965-2005), mid-century (2046-2065) and end of century (2081-2100).
- An iterative risk assessment of CC impacts that enable to compare islands, and monitor vulnerability-exposure.
- The estimation of the socio-economic impacts of CC for the islands, through the tailored calibration of two applied macroeconomic models, and integrating output from non-market economic valuation.
- The co-assessment with local stakeholders of policy adaptation pathways that are framed by the geographical, socio-economic conditions of each island, and the future CC scenarios.
To achieve these results, a dynamic work-flow process involving feeding information for successive stages was implemented. First, a sector-specific analysis was undertaken pivoting around the concept of Climate Change Impact Chain. Second, the climatic projections were used as inputs to a range of diverse evaluation approaches to estimate direct economic impacts on the four Blue Economy sectors. Third, the estimated changes in energy consumption, tourism flows and infrastructures have been used as inputs to assess the effects on other 14 sectors, GDP, investment, and employment. A participatory process involving local stakeholders allowed to produce precise and adapted information in all stages, taking into account the relationship between CC scenarios, biophysical impacts, and each island’s specificities. Thus, the proposed adaptation pathways address the specific limits and obstacles that constrain their avenue to become more resilient territories.
Effective dissemination and exploitation was crucial for the success of the action. The work package of Communication and Dissemination actively joined all the research stages of the project and implemented several tools and channels to target regional stakeholders, previously segmented in each island. A set of key exploitable results (KER) were identified, and transformed into 12 harmonised dissemination resources for each island to ensure their usability and comparative potential. The Regional Exchange Information System (REIS) platform embedding the Adaptation Support Tool for Islands was identified as the 13th and principal KER, which integrates all the knowledge of the project in a user-friendly way for islands' climate change policy formulation and comparison. The REIS platform aims to become a permanent facility for policy design and climate change information exchange between islands, and its long run maintenance will be supported by the leadership of Institute TiDES-ULPGC.
The novelties of this action are:
- To effectively utilize a participatory process of climate change policy adaptation formulation involving regional and sectoral bodies.
- To address the problem of an evident lack of high-resolution wave simulations comprising the Atlantic islands, by the expansion of the Med-Cordex database and the size of atmosphere-ocean coupled simulations.
- The downscaling of macroeconomic models (GEM-E3-ISL and GINFORS) at islands’ levels, for the socioeconomic impact assessment of CC in Blue Economy sectors utilizing detailed inputs from non-market valuation.
With islands being of particular relevance for the EU, and their sustainable development dependent on local information, SOCLIMPACT allowed for the identification of science and policy gaps at local levels. The specific approach for islands and the cross-comparison may also support regions and the EC in the definition of new funding programs for islands. The results are relevant for the EU climate policies, in particular the European Green Deal. In this vein, the REIS platform aims to be a supporting tool and inspiration for climate action and benchmarking, enabling the design of tailored solutions to common problems in all islands worldwide.
It should be remarked the granularity of the modelling work developed on an island-specific setting which led to difficulties, mainly related to data unavailability, which affected the workflow, caused delays and required corrective actions.
The limitations of the action follow from the large degree of uncertainty surrounding the definition of future climate change impacts scenarios that may deviate from the expected assessments. Further research should get around the model assumptions and limitations of the action, by pushing forward more innovative and flexible modelling approaches that consider i) the modelling of large uncertainty in some regions (Atlantic), ii) the consideration of integrated perspectives that include trade-offs, synergies and co-benefits between adaptation and mitigation options, iii) the inclusion of both positive and negative CC impacts, and iv) the transferability of the selected islands results to European coastal areas.
Example of Theoretical Impact Chain/Tourism sector and indicators definition
Governance of SOCLIMPACT
Screenshot of the REIS platform
Methodological vision