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Periodic Report Summary 2 - IMPRESSIONS (Impacts and risks from higher-end scenarios: Strategies for innovative solutions)

Project Context and Objectives:
There is widespread acceptance that the climate is changing. The Paris Agreement states that climate change should be limited to “well below” 2°C and that countries should strive to limit temperature rise even further, to 1.5°C. However, it has been shown that achieving the 2oC target will require more emissions reductions than currently pledged. Without early and drastic emissions reductions, global average temperatures will rise above the agreed target. High-end climate scenarios, where the temperature increase is above 2oC, are still plausible despite international agreements. However, there are few studies that simultaneously assess their potential impacts, the ability of adaptation options to reduce vulnerabilities, and their potential synergies and trade-offs with mitigation. IMPRESSIONS aims to fill these information gaps by improving scientific understanding of the consequences of high-end climate change under different socio-economic scenarios, and supporting the use of this knowledge by decision-makers working on adaptation and mitigation.

The main approach is to develop new scenarios and models of the impacts of high levels of climate change, and apply these to five case studies at different geographical scales: Europe; regional or local (Scotland, Iberia and Hungary); and an EU External case study that looks at interactions between Europe, Central Asia, Russia and China. Different adaptation and mitigation options are being assessed for each case study, in order to help decision-makers identify strategies that are robust for a range of possible futures.

This will be achieved through the following steps:
• Establish decision-maker needs: In-depth interviews and stakeholder workshops to understand what tools and knowledge decision-makers need in order to make robust and effective decisions on adaptation and mitigation in the face of highly uncertain scientific information.
• Develop integrated climate and socio-economic scenarios: Work closely with stakeholders in the five case studies to create a set of integrated high-end climate and socio-economic scenarios that include potential tipping points.
• Develop robust methods and models to assess climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation options: Integrate a wide range of existing and new spatial models of impacts and adaptation into a single assessment framework, to analyse the complex interactions, synergies and trade-offs between different sectors such as agriculture, forestry, urban development and tourism as they compete for land, water and energy, and the resulting impacts on health and biodiversity.
• Develop adaptation and mitigation pathways: Work with stakeholders in each case study to develop a suite of harmonised adaptation and mitigation pathways which will be tested with the models, and assess the adequacy of adaptive capacity for implementation of the pathways.
• Analyse risks, opportunities, costs and benefits of adaptation and mitigation: Evaluate the adaptation and mitigation pathways developed by stakeholders, studying the effectiveness over time of different pathways in the face of high-end climate and socio-economic scenarios, which could include non-linear changes and tipping points. Develop recommendations on robust new policy strategies and pathways, including the risks and opportunities of different policy options, in order to provide integrated and potentially transformative solutions that help society plan for the long-term in the context of high levels of climate change.
• Knowledge exchange and dissemination: Communicate the results to a broad community of stakeholders to maximise their active participation in the research and enhance current approaches to climate change policies and actions.

Project Results:
Decision-maker needs
A framework was finalised which defines and classifies different types of adaptation decisions, the way they deal with uncertainty and guides best practices in adaptation decision-making. In-depth interviews and stakeholder workshops were completed for the Europe, Scotland, Iberia and Hungary case studies; preliminary interviews were undertaken for the EU External case study. The needs of stakeholders, their capacities to use information in decision-making processes, and drivers and barriers they face, were identified. A general conclusion is that stakeholders perceive that their adaptation-related decision-making processes may be more affected by socio-economic than climate factors, and they ask for integrative modelling that takes this into account and is tailored to specific decision-making processes.

Integrated scenarios
Seven GCM-RCM models, covering RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 emission scenarios, were used to produce climate change projections (e.g. temperature, precipitation). These were downscaled and climate indices derived for use in stakeholder workshops (e.g. Figure 1).
Four socio-economic scenarios based on global Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSP1, Sustainability; SSP3, Regional Rivalry; SSP4, Inequality; SSP5, Fossil-fuelled Development) were downscaled and extended in stakeholder workshops. Narratives and key trends in socio-economic metrics were developed for each case study over three time periods (2010-2040, 2040-2070 and 2070-2100) using participatory methods. Combining model-led trends with stakeholder-led socio-economic trends has provided a unique set of comparable yet stakeholder-relevant multi-scale scenarios (Figure 2). The scenarios contextualise adaptation/mitigation pathways by providing the enabling and disabling conditions for adaptation/mitigation strategies.

Methods and models
Sensitivity analyses of CCIAV models were completed, with impact response surfaces used to assess sensitivity to a wide range of climate and socio-economic perturbations, offering a valuable method to test model behaviour and robustness under high-end scenarios.
Models at all scales have been applied to the integrated climate and socio-economic scenarios, supporting stakeholder-led development of adaptation and mitigation pathways. Simulations with global-scale models were undertaken to provide inputs to the EU External case study and boundary conditions for the other case studies. European-scale impacts were modelled using a regional integrated assessment model and agent-based models. Regional case studies focused on issues identified by stakeholders using a range of scenario-driven modelling. New economy-environment models were developed to assess resilience through tracking transmission of climate and climate policy related shocks in the economy.

Adaptation and mitigation pathways
The advanced transition management methodology to produce pathways was finalised, underpinning activities in stakeholder workshops for all case studies. Timelines for adaptation and mitigation actions were specified by stakeholders in the context of each scenario, and these are being developed into proto-pathways. Pathways will be assessed to identify policy or societal mechanisms by which strategies and actions within pathways can be aligned to achieve co-benefits and avoid unintended consequences.

Knowledge exchange and dissemination
Eight stakeholder workshops were designed and organised to co-create the socio-economic scenarios and adaptation and mitigation pathways in the case studies. Complementary online engagement collected survey-based stakeholder input on the quantification of scenarios.
A draft design of the Information Hub, synthesising project results, was produced including a summary of next steps towards its release. News and results were communicated widely through the IMPRESSIONS website, social media, newsletters and press releases. Project results have been presented at conferences and several academic papers published.

Potential Impact:
The project will produce:

• A more thorough understanding of decision-makers’ needs for developing robust strategies in response to high-end climate change scenarios.
• A set of integrated high-end climate and socio-economic scenarios covering global, European and regional/local scales.
• Improved quantification and mapping of cross-sectoral impacts, risks and vulnerabilities associated with high-end scenarios along with consideration of their uncertainties.
• Advances in how adaptation is modelled by incorporating a more comprehensive representation of associated constraints, triggers, time lags and consequences.
• New models which simulate adaptation as a process by representing the behaviour of decision-makers, firms and institutions as learning and interacting agents.
• Assessment of the robustness of current policies and the need for transformative strategies to deal with high-end scenarios.
• A set of sustainable development transition pathways that offer options for harmonising adaptation and mitigation strategies to enable society to adapt effectively to potential impacts under high-end scenarios and across multiple scales.
• A knowledge network and information hub to support mutual learning and enhance decision-makers’ capacity to take up the project’s recommendations.

Potential impacts
IMPRESSIONS will address the major societal challenge of coping with climate change by identifying sustainable, cost-effective strategies where synergies between adaptation and mitigation can be realised and conflicts minimised. This will enable decision-makers to identify robust, innovative and effective solutions for addressing high-end climate change. It will highlight societal and policy innovations and support transformations needed to achieve a sustainable green economy and boost EU competitiveness.

Results will be produced in partnership with, and therefore supported by, a wide range of decision-makers across Europe. The stakeholder-led approach will ensure that the research is driven by the priorities of decision-makers from key economic and social sectors so that significant co-learning can be achieved. The use of case studies will ensure that project results are rooted in real-world policy-making. This will ensure that the project provides timely outputs tailored to inform and guide critical adaptation and mitigation decisions during and after the project. It will also build capacity and understanding so that decision-makers will be able to use new information and train others to sustain a lasting legacy of impacts beyond the lifetime of the project.

IMPRESSIONS will inform decision-making and policy development in key areas, such as the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change, Common Agricultural Policy, Water Framework Directive, Biodiversity 2020, Cohesion Policy and the Floods Directive, as well as meeting current and potential future international commitments, e.g. under the UNFCCC, Aichi Targets and Sustainable Development Goals. Project outputs are being summarised in a policy booklet with ‘sister’ projects HELIX and RISES-AM which will highlight key impacts under high-end scenarios in different policy areas. IMPRESSIONS, HELIX and RISES-AM are also leading the organisation of the 3rd European Climate Change Adaptation Conference in June 2017 which will promote learning and discussion between researchers, businesses, practitioners and policy-makers. These activities will ensure that the project’s outputs target key stakeholder groups and leave legacy across the European climate change adaptation community. The project will also promote and facilitate knowledge transfer by engaging with researchers and policy stakeholders internationally, particularly from Central Asia, Russia, China, Japan, Republic of Korea and the USA.

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