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Exploring National and Global Actions to reduce Greenhouse gas Emissions

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ENGAGE (Exploring National and Global Actions to reduce Greenhouse gas Emissions)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-02-28

As the world faces risks of dangerous climate change, policy-makers, industry and civil society leaders are counting on Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) to inform and guide strategies to deliver on the objectives of the Paris Agreement (PA). ENGAGE rises to this challenge by engaging these stakeholders in co-producing a new generation of global and national decarbonisation pathways. These new pathways supplement natural science, engineering and economics with cutting-edge insights from social science in order to reflect multidimensional feasibility of decarbonisation and identify opportunities to strengthen climate policies. In addition, they link national mitigation strategies of major emitters with the PA’s objectives, integrate potential game-changing innovations, and advance conceptually novel approaches to architectures of international climate agreements. The new pathways are being developed in an iterative global and national stakeholder process with an international consortium of leading global and national IAMs and social scientists. This co-production process ensures that the pathways are credible, legitimate, and rooted in concrete policy and industry experience, making them relevant to the 2023 global stocktake and able to feed into the mid-century strategies of major emitters. ENGAGE will also quantify avoided impacts of climate change, co-benefits and trade-offs of climate policy, and identify the biggest sectoral opportunities for climate change mitigation. The ENGAGE project will set new standards of transparency for global and national IAMs.
The work carried out during the reporting period towards each of the main objectives is presented in the following.

i. To build a legitimate, transparent, and iterative knowledge co-production process including different stakeholder groups
ENGAGE has begun collaborating with key stakeholders from a range of sectors. The results of a survey to collect policymaker and stakeholder expectations on the likely impact of the COVID-19 crisis were presented in November 2020 at a COMMIT-ENGAGE-NAVIGATE Stakeholder Dialogue and an EU Decarbonisation Webinar, and in December 2020 at the 13th Meeting of the Integrated Assessment Modeling Consortium. A short Perspective presenting the results of the survey has been published in Energy Research and Social Sciences. Feedback received in virtual stakeholder meetings has fed into ongoing work on gamechangers and feasibility, with the task on game changers and their potential to ease barriers for mitigation incorporating various effects of COVID-19 pandemic into its work. ENGAGE has also been working to increase model transparency, with all models publishing their documentation on the harmonized IAMC wiki (https://www.iamcdocumentation.eu/index.php/IAMC_wiki). To assist anyone interested in documentation, a capacity building workshop on model documentation and reference cards is available on the ENGAGE website.

ii. To conceptualise and operationalise multidimensional feasibility of decarbonisation policies and pathways
ENGAGE has developed two frameworks for assessing the feasibility of climate mitigation pathways. The first, a multidimensional feasibility framework developed by Brutschin et al., accepted for publication in Environmental Research Letters, focuses on identifying trade-offs between different feasibility dimensions. It gives a broad representation of different feasibility dimensions with a quantitative approach to representing governance and institutional restraints. This framework has already been applied to scenarios in the IPCC SR1.5 database, and formed the backbone of the Second Order Draft of the IPCC AR6 regarding the evaluation of transformation pathways from IAMs. An interactive visualisation tool has also been developed. A complementary feasibility space approach (Jewell and Cherp, 2019) focuses on the feasibility of specific climate solutions in specific contexts and is now being tested with a select group of national partners.

iii. Quantify national avoided impacts of climate change and identify climate policy portfolios that maximize co-benefits and minimize trade-offs with other sustainability objectives
The global and national modelling teams have already identified sectors of interest for analysis at local, national, and regional levels, and many teams have already begun developing case studies to quantify avoided climate change impacts. In particular, many teams are focusing on quantifying the benefits or trade-offs of climate policies on biodiversity, food, poverty, water, air quality, health, and employment, particularly for vulnerable populations.

iv. Develop a new generation of decarbonization pathways which represent multidimensional feasibility and reflect all characteristics of the PA to inform the 2023 stocktake and national mid-term strategies
ENGAGE conducted a comprehensive model-intercomparison study with a detailed exploration of the new global pathways limiting peak temperatures to different levels, including the most recent updates to countries’ climate policies and the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on economies and energy use. Results are presented in five papers currently in review with high-level journals. The modelling teams are now using this first generation of ENGAGE pathways in conjunction with the feasibility assessment frameworks to indicate potential feasibility challenges and highlight opportunities for effective mitigation policies. Moreover, ENGAGE studies have explored the direct impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the European power sector and different demand-side recovery pathways from the crisis, insights from which will feed into the next generation of scenarios.

v. Inform and contribute to the IPCC AR6
ENGAGE has published the first set of decarbonisation pathways, which account for a third of the scenarios currently in the IPCC AR6 database. ENGAGE developed and is hosting the AR6 scenario explorer, a critical resource for the IPCC authors, enabling them to conduct a comprehensive and effective assessment. Additionally, more than 50 ENGAGE researchers are also involved in drafting the report as chapter authors, contributing authors and reviewers. The multidimensional feasibility work developed within ENGAGE is also being applied within the IPCC AR6 as a framework for evaluating transformation pathways from IAMs.
A new generation of global decarbonisation pathways limiting peak warming to well below 2°C and 1.5°C has been developed and incorporated into the IPCC AR6 database. Five publications on this work are currently in review. Furthermore, a systematic framework for assessing the scenario space for national pathways has been developed, and is already being adapted and used in the national modelling work currently ongoing within ENGAGE.

ENGAGE researchers also developed a novel systematic operational framework to gauge the multi-dimensional feasibility concerns of decarbonisation pathways. This framework allows assessing the timing, disruptiveness and scale of feasibility concerns of Integrated Assessment Model mitigation pathways across geophysical, technological, economic, socio-cultural and institutional dimensions. A key innovation is the incorporation of insights from social and political science to operationalise institutional feasibility, with an interactive visualisation tool allowing a customised definition of thresholds and feasibility evaluations.
Virtual attendance at 3rd Project Meeting - 1 March 2021
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Group photo of ENGAGE researchers at the project's Kick-off meeting in Laxenburg, September 2019