Strengthening the climate change scenario framework

INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR APPLIED SYSTEMS ANALYSIS

Research News

Over the past decade, the climate change research community developed a scenario framework that combines alternative futures of climate and society to facilitate integrated research and consistent assessment to inform policy. An international team of researchers assessed how well this framework is working and what challenges it faces.

The scenario framework contains a set of scenarios about how society may evolve in the future – so-called Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) – and defines different levels of climate change known as Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). Combining both aspects of the framework allows researchers to develop integrated analyses of how future societies can avoid climate change and cope with its impacts.

“The SSPs started with brief global narratives combined with projections of a few key variables like GDP, population, and urbanization. In the past few years, researchers extended the SSPs to individual countries, cities, and sectors. They’ve also added new indicators, such as governance, income distribution, access to basic services, and air pollution. The framework has been widely and successfully applied, and has shaped climate change research,” explains Brian O’Neill, director of the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) and main author of the assessment published in Nature Climate Change.

“The scenarios framework allows scientists to use similar scenarios across many different studies. Individual research projects don’t need to develop their own scenario storylines and quantifications but can build on the work of others. Once many studies use comparable scenarios, it becomes more straightforward to assess the literature for insights that emerge across these studies. This means that large scientific assessments like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) can use the framework to structure their analyses and reports,” adds IIASA researcher Bas van Ruijven, one of the authors of the study and co-chair of the International Committee on New Integrated Climate Change Assessment Scenarios (ICONICS).

In their paper, the authors synthesize the insights from the first ever Scenarios Forum organized by the University of Denver and ICONICS in Denver, CO in March 2019, and present the first in-depth literature analysis of the SSP-RCP scenarios framework. They specifically looked into how useful the framework has been for researchers, which topics the SSPs have been used for, and what can be done to improve the framework and make it more useful for future studies.

The results show that the framework has been used in almost 1,400 studies over the past five years, of which about half are related to climate impacts, one-third to avoiding climate change, and the remainder to extensions or methodological improvements. Encouragingly, the findings indicate that the scenarios framework enables research that had not been possible before, such as estimating the combined impacts of socioeconomic and climate changes on exposure to climate risks. The insights from this new study will help researchers to improve the framework and make it even more useful over the next five years. The study also revealed that some studies use unlikely combinations of socioeconomic assumptions with the highest climate change outcomes (the so-called RCP8.5 pathway). They caution that researchers should be more careful using this high climate change scenario for their studies in combination with a development pathway aiming to sustainable development, as well as in communication about their findings.

The authors identified seven recommendations for future work:

  • Improving the integration of societal and climate conditions
  • Improving applicability to regional and local scales
  • Improving relevance beyond the climate research community
  • Producing a broader range of reference scenarios that include impacts and policy
  • Capturing relevant perspectives and uncertainties
  • Keeping scenarios up to date, and
  • Improving the relevance of climate change scenario applications for users.

“While the scenarios framework is mostly used by researchers, it has also been translated into accessible non-technical language for the public. It has had a significant impact on how we study and think about future climate change. By identifying the weaknesses of the existing framework, we improve the utility of the framework for future studies. Also, by combining socioeconomic and climate change scenarios with other societal objectives (e.g., biodiversity), we can paint a more concrete picture of what future societies might look like and systematically explore how to avoid climate change and how to cope with its impacts,” notes IIASA Energy Program Director Keywan Riahi, who was also a study author.

Going forward, ICONICS and IIASA will support the research community in further improving the scenarios framework. To facilitate these developments, the two organizations will organize an online seminar and discussion series starting in January 2021. To foster and track progress, and revise goals as experience accumulates, the Scenarios Forum is intended to become a regular biennial event. To this end, IIASA and the ICONICS Steering Committee plan to host the second Scenarios Forum in Laxenburg, Austria in 2022.

###

Reference

O’Neill B, Carter T, Ebi K, Harrison P, Kemp-Benedict E, Kok K, Kriegler E, Preston B, Riahi K, et al. (2020). Achievements and needs for the climate change scenario framework. 

Nature Climate Change DOI: 10.1038/s41558-020-00952-0

From EurekAlert!

[Charles Note, the paper’s ID appears to be incorrect. I can’t find it. Here is the link to the press release at the originating organization]

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lee
November 24, 2020 10:24 pm
Curious George
Reply to  lee
November 25, 2020 5:47 pm

The method has been described in The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. Mr. Pott published a work on Chinese Metaphysics, based on the Encyclopaedia Britannica: “he read for metaphysics under the letter M, and for China under the letter C ; and combined his information, Sir !”

sky king
November 24, 2020 11:02 pm

A framework of scenarios. Must pay well dreaming these things up. And there is a Steering Committee!

lee
Reply to  sky king
November 24, 2020 11:05 pm

Steer hard left. 😉

Editor
Reply to  sky king
November 25, 2020 3:37 am

Spot on. I shudder when I see nonsense like “Also, by combining socioeconomic and climate change scenarios with other societal objectives (e.g., biodiversity), we can paint a more concrete picture of what future societies might look like and systematically explore how to avoid climate change and how to cope with its impacts,“. It guarantees that no rational person can ever make any progress on anything, and that all of science will be controlled by bureaucratic fiat not by the scientific method.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  sky king
November 25, 2020 5:32 am

They obviously have no talent and need a high paying job. This is perfect. They can write a bunch of gibberish which is neither right nor wrong and go on expensive trips to meet their friends. Job creation for highly educated idiots.

Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
November 25, 2020 1:22 pm

Trying
+ several shed-loads!
Utter gibberish.

Auto

Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
November 26, 2020 12:28 am

Protocol 5v8. “In all ages the people of the world, equally with individuals, have accepted words for deeds, for they are content with a show and rarely pause to note, in the public arena, whether promises are followed by performance. Therefore we shall establish show institutions which will give eloquent proof of their benefit to progress.”

Gary Pearse
Reply to  sky king
November 25, 2020 12:51 pm

If the RCPs don’t include global cooling, staying the same and warming/CO2 that’s net beneficial, they are logically incomplete (show me data that rules these out).

The fact they are almost totally ignoring the only palpable climate change that’s actually occurred, the Great Garden of Eden Global Greening” because of elevated CO2 in the atmosphere and a measly degree of warming over 170yrs, tells anyone paying attention that this is definitely not something that activist scientists are happy to see when they are contemplating the “cost of carbon”.

They have produced a couple of papers on why this is a terrible thing because it would be indecent to not say something about it. There was one on greening of the tundra because here they could point to the degree of warming as the ‘culprit’. I kid you not there was not one mention of CO2, which of course directly played a part in the greening. This paper was the most obvious of feints in that they were steering thinking away from the elephant in the room: the other 95% of the globe where warming was not a prerequisite for the sudden galloping greening that is obvious from outer space!! Childish and egregiously deliberate.

Dodgy Geezer
November 24, 2020 11:23 pm

What are they going to do when it starts getting colder again?

pcman999
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
November 24, 2020 11:36 pm

Blame climate change, of course. Unless the temperature stays perfectly still, they will demand global communism no matter what happens.

Peter W
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
November 25, 2020 8:30 am

Maybe blame it on emissions from the Chinese coal burning plants? (NOTE: Recall that during the 1970’s cooling fear-mongering, it was being blamed on emissions from U.S. coal burning plants.)

Eamon Butler
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
November 26, 2020 5:24 am

They have already blamed severe cold temperatures on Global warming.

LdB
November 24, 2020 11:34 pm

So Climate Scientist and activists making guesses in fields that they have no qualifications … Mosher would be proud.

Waza
November 24, 2020 11:47 pm

These SSPs are just dreams for dinner table chats.
In more than a decade is this all they can come up with?
How about providing a quantitative engineering/costing solution about how we can provide electricity/water/sewer for the billion of the world’s poor.

Coeur de Lion
November 25, 2020 12:18 am

I’m glad they are advocating the integration of climate and sociological conditions. It’s very necessary.

Editor
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
November 25, 2020 3:31 am

Why not integrate climate and the coronavirus too? Or climate and biodiversity? Or climate and energy security?

It’s pretty simple really. Climate, sociological conditions, coronavirus, biodiversity and energy security are all completely different topics requiring completely different knowledge and skills. Combining any two of them guarantees sero progress. Science has always worked best by treating every topic on its own merits.

Joel O’Bryan
November 25, 2020 1:06 am

Alphabet soup of rent seekers:
IPCC
IPBES
IIASA
ICONICS
JGCRI

How about this one:
International Next Generation Organization Simulating Our Climate – INGSOC.

We’re practically there already with COVID. The climate scam on steroids will unleash the Green Leap Forward with US President Dementia Joe being controlled like a puppet.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
November 25, 2020 3:20 am

+1984

November 25, 2020 1:12 am

The text reads like it was produced by an automated essay generator seeded with words like: framework scenario studies researcher climate change.

Steve Case
Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
November 25, 2020 4:46 am

Ralph Dave Westfall November 25, 2020 at 1:12 am
The text reads like it was produced by an automated essay generator

BINGO! Pure Psychobabble:

The authors identified seven recommendations for future work:
Improving the integration of societal and climate conditions
Improving applicability to regional and local scales
Improving relevance beyond the climate research community
Producing a broader range of reference scenarios that include impacts and policy
Capturing relevant perspectives and uncertainties
Keeping scenarios up to date, and
Improving the relevance of climate change scenario applications for users.

Chaswarnertoo
November 25, 2020 1:44 am

Duh!

Ron Long
November 25, 2020 1:56 am

This reads like a Progressive New-Age Cookbook. Take a whole bunch of stinky garbage and, when you mix it all together, you get a wonderful cake. Biden/Kerry will be all-in for this deal.

Oldseadog
November 25, 2020 2:08 am

” ….. large scientific assesments like the IPCC ….. ”
I stopped reading at that point – if they think the IPCC is “scientific” then they are starting from a false premise.

Peter W
Reply to  Oldseadog
November 25, 2020 8:34 am

The United Nations is a political organization, not a scientific one. The IPCC was set up by the U.N. and operates under it’s direction. It is appropriately described as the best science money can buy – i.e. pay some scientists enough money and they will find a way to tell you whatever you want to hear.

November 25, 2020 3:34 am

… has been used in almost 1,400 studies over the past five years, … one-third to avoiding climate change

(Emphasis added.)

Were any of those projects dedicated to finding out how many virgins are required to keep the volcanoes from erupting?

RickWill
November 25, 2020 4:16 am

It is good to see US tax dollars being spent so wisely. This work was done on Trump’s watch, imagine how it will multiply with Biden’s support.

observa
November 25, 2020 6:23 am

The climate is getting worse and I’m shocked. Shocked I tell you!

“people were crying in the meeting about how Jordan Peterson has affected their lives.”
“Dozens (of staff) have now filed anonymous complaints,”

It’s snowflake time folks and so the big freeze out begins-
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/jordan-petersons-new-book-release-prompts-tears-outcry-among-publishers-staff/ar-BB1blAZ4

Cam_S
Reply to  observa
November 25, 2020 12:28 pm

Rex Murphy has some comments…
———————

Rex Murphy: A pathetic display by an anti-Jordan Peterson woke mob
Should Penguin Random House give so much as an inch on the cardinal idea of free expression, let it get out of the book trade
https://nationalpost.com/opinion/rex-murphy-a-pathetic-display-by-an-anti-jordan-peterson-woke-mob

Bruce Cobb
November 25, 2020 6:41 am

“Climate change research community” = Climate Liars’ Club. Motto: “Sit back, relax, and leave the “research” to us. After all, we’re the experts. Why would we lie?”

Bruce Cobb
November 25, 2020 6:55 am

Because crocodile tears are so moving.

Coach Springer
November 25, 2020 7:16 am

That first paragraph made me gag.

Peter W
November 25, 2020 8:36 am

The United Nations is a political organization, not a scientific one. The IPCC was set up by the U.N. and operates under it’s direction. It is appropriately described as the best science money can buy – i.e. pay some scientists enough money and they will find a way to tell you whatever you want to hear.

Dave Fair
November 25, 2020 10:06 am

Lets save the taxpayers some money. Instead of all these resort-area meetings, just:

1) Pick the UN IPCC climate model with the hottest ECS;

2) Use the scenario that results with the highest, improbable CO2 concentrations; and

3) Write a paper that proves we must destroy free market capitalism to save the planet.

Meab
November 25, 2020 10:08 am

The obvious problem is that they published multiple scenarios. Those with an agenda will choose the scenario/pathway that best suits their narrative. Hence, many “climate crisis” alarmists choose RCP 8.5, an extreme scenario that isn’t likely at all. Publishing such a wide range of scenarios enables the alarmist barkers to falsely claim credibility that simply isn’t there.

November 26, 2020 5:13 am

The global warming extremists have made ~50 very-scary climate predictions, and not one has materialized – their false scares are political, not scientific – scary fictions concocted by wolves to stampede the sheep.

The ability to predict is the best objective means of assessing scientific competence, and the global warming alarmists have NO predictive track record – they have been 100% wrong about everything and nobody should believe these fraudsters – about anything!

“MacRae’s Maxim”:
“VIRTUALLY EVERY SCARY PREDICTION BY GLOBAL WARMING ALARMISTS IS FALSE.”

My above statement is correct, based on decades and scores of failed predictions of runaway global warming, wilder weather, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmzuRXLzqKk

THE CATASTROPHIC ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING (CAGW) AND THE HUMANMADE CLIMATE CHANGE CRISES ARE PROVED FALSE
By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc.(Eng.), M.Eng., January 10, 2020
https://thsresearch.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/the-catastrophic-anthropogenic-global-warming-cagw-and-the-humanmade-climate-change-crises-are-proved-false.pdf

Tom Abbott
November 26, 2020 12:43 pm

All this based on the unproven notion that CO2 will overheat the Earth’s atmosphere.

These fools are running scenarios all over the place and their basic premis, that CO2 overheats the Earth’s atmosphere to the point of catastrophe, has never been established as fact. It’s pure speculation, yet these guys are going at it like it is real. Taking part in the Human-caused Climate Change scam (it pays well).

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