Our Common Future Under Climate Change

International Scientific Conference 7-10 JULY 2015 Paris, France

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Thursday 9 July - 17:30-19:00 UPMC Jussieu - Amphi Astier

2236 - Scenarios, public deliberation and decisions

Parallel Session

Lead Convener(s): R. Lempert (RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, United States of America), K. Fløttum (University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)

Convener(s): P. Dargusch (University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), J. Vervoort (University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom), E. Trutnevyte (Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research-Supply of Electricity, Zurich, Switzerland), C. Guivarch (Centre International de Recherche sur l’Environnement et le Développement (CIRED), Paris, France)

17:30

From scenarios to policy action: exploring transformative climate futures at national and international levels

A. Wilkinson (OECD, Paris, France)

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From scenarios to policy action: exploring transformative climate futures at national and international levels
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17:45

Scenarios Emergent!

R. Lempert (RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, United States of America)

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Scenarios Emergent!

R. Lempert (1)
(1) RAND Corporation, Frederick s. pardee center for longer range global policy and the future human condition, Santa Monica, United States of America

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Responding to climate change may require us to imagine future worlds, both good and bad, different than the one with which we are familiar and to take concrete steps now to shift towards more favorable pathways into the future.  Scenarios can play an important role in such visioning and action.  At their best, scenarios can effectively represent deep uncertainty; integrate over multiple domains; and enable parties with different expectation and values to expand the range of futures they consider, to see the world from different points of view, and to grapple seriously with the potential implications of surprising or inconvenient futures. These attributes of scenario processes can prove crucial in helping craft effective responses to climate change. But traditional scenario methods can also fail to overcome difficulties related to choosing, communicating, and using scenarios to identify, evaluate, and reach consensus on appropriate policies. Such challenges can limit scenario’s impact in broad public discourse.  In recent years, new decision support approaches employing new quantitative tools, now enable scenarios to emerge from a process of deliberation with analysis among stakeholders, rather than serving as inputs to it. Such approaches can significantly increase the impact of scenarios on decision-making.  This talk will survey this emerging field of computer-assisted scenario design, describe some applications, suggest how the underlying concepts can inform a broad range of scenario activities, and help make scenario more impactful in shaping both incremental and transformative responses to climate change. 

18:00

Building and analyzing large numbers of socio-economic scenarios for decision support under uncertainty: a modelling experiment to explore the main determinants of economic growth in a carbon-constrained world

C. Guivarch (Centre International de Recherche sur l’Environnement et le Développement (CIRED), Paris, France), J. Rozenberg (World Bank, Washington DC, United States of America)

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Building and analyzing large numbers of socio-economic scenarios for decision support under uncertainty: a modelling experiment to explore the main determinants of economic growth in a carbon-constrained world

C. Guivarch (1) ; J. Rozenberg (2)
(1) Centre International de Recherche sur l’Environnement et le Développement (CIRED), Paris, France; (2) World Bank, Climate Change Group Chief Economist Office, Washington DC, United States of America

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Climate change poses a challenge to traditional decision making techniques due to long time scales, complex systems that couple human, technical and natural elements, and multiple uncertainties. Scenario technique is a key tool for decision making in such context. Here we demonstrate how building and analyzing databases of scenarios that explore the “uncertainty space” can bring novel insights for decision support. We do so in an illustrative study that focuses on identifying the main sources of technological and socio-economic uncertainty for indicators used for policy decision.

The relevant measure for the macroeconomic evaluation of mitigation pathways depends on the question at stake: deciding on the level of mitigation to target or choosing a strategy to meet an already fixed target. Choosing the level of greenhouse gases emissions reduction to target requires balancing mitigation costs against avoided costs from climate change damage. Both costs are usually measured by GDP or welfare losses compared to a baseline – a scenario with no mitigation and no damage. However, whether this balancing approach is appropriate for climate change is being increasingly called into question, in particular because estimates of the damage that can be caused by climate change are highly uncertain and possibly in the realm of the “unknowable”. But when the stabilization target is already fixed, the design of the best strategy is better informed by absolute levels of GDP in pathways that meet the target.

We construct a modelling experiment to explore the role of a wide range of socio-economic uncertainties for the two metrics: absolute per capita GDP under mitigation scenarios and GDP losses with respect to the baseline. The modelling experiment takes the form of an analysis of an ensemble of 648 scenarios, built with an Integrated Assessment Model that represents the intertwined evolution of technical systems, energy demand behavior and economic growth. The model parameters are grouped into six parameter sets: productivity growth in the leading country, productivity catch-up in other countries, energy demand behavior, end-use energy efficiency, availability of low-carbon technologies, and availability of unconventional fossil fuels. Combining alternative assumptions on the values of the parameter sets leads to 216 baselines. For each baseline, two mitigation scenarios are modeled. Both meet an exogenous emissions trajectory constraint leading to a 50% reduction in global emissions by 2050 compared to 2000. They differ in the use of the carbon tax revenues – revenues are either redistributed to households or used to reduce pre-existing taxes.

In the resulting ensemble of mitigation scenarios, we find that GDP losses and absolute GDP are not well correlated and are not determined by the same (uncertain) drivers. We identify the most important sources of uncertainty for absolute GDP in mitigation scenarios and for GDP losses with respect to the baseline, using a regression tree algorithm. We find that GDP losses against baselines are mainly determined by the design of the climate policy and the availability of low-carbon technologies whereas absolute GDP in mitigation scenarios is mainly determined by end-use energy efficiency and energy demand behavior. More generally, our modeling experiment shows that, in a context of uncertainty, GDP losses and absolute GDP are not well correlated and do not give the same insights for policy designs. Realizing the difference is important to focus on the relevant information for each type of decision.

Despite, and because of, the uncertainty surrounding future damage caused by climate change, decision-makers in many places around the world have set mitigation targets in terms of concentration of greenhouse gases or temperature (at the global level), or in terms of future emissions (at national or local levels). They are now designing strategies to meet these targets. In this context where mitigation targets are already fixed, our results challenge the practice of macroeconomic evaluations of mitigation pathways that mainly focus on investigating the role of technological uncertainties for GDP losses relative to baseline scenarios. Instead, analysts and decision-makers should to devote more attention to GDP levels under a carbon constraint on the one hand, and to uncertainties on energy demand behaviors and energy efficiency on the other hand.

18:10

From scenarios to climate action: insights from scenario-guided policy development across six global regions

J. Vervoort (University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom), M. Veeger (University for International Cooperation, San Jose, Costa Rica), R. Peou (International Rice Research Institute, Hanoi, Vietnam), M. Muzammil (University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom), A. Palazzo (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria), D. Mason-D'croz (International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington DC, United States of America), S. Islam (International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington DC, United States of America), P. Havlik (IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria), P. Thornton (ILRI, Nairobi, Kenya), C. Jost (World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Nairobi, Kenya), W. Foerch (CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), ILRI, Nairobi, Kenya), P. Kristjanson (World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Washington D.C., United States of America)

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From scenarios to climate action: insights from scenario-guided policy development across six global regions

J. Vervoort (1) ; M. Veeger (2) ; R. Peou (3) ; M. Muzammil (4) ; A. Palazzo (5) ; D. Mason-D'croz (6) ; S. Islam (6) ; P. Havlik (7) ; P. Thornton (8) ; C. Jost (9) ; W. Foerch (10) ; P. Kristjanson (11)
(1) University of Oxford, Cgiar program on climate change, agriculture and food security/environmental change institute, Oxford, United Kingdom; (2) University for International Cooperation, San Jose, Costa Rica; (3) International Rice Research Institute, Hanoi, Vietnam; (4) University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom; (5) International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria; (6) International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington DC, United States of America; (7) IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria; (8) ILRI, Nairobi, Kenya; (9) World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Climate Change Science Domain, Nairobi, Kenya; (10) CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), ILRI, Policies and institutions for climate resilient food systems, Nairobi, Kenya; (11) World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Climate change science domain, Washington D.C., United States of America

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Scenarios can be a powerful approach to exploring future climate and socio-economic uncertainties. However, scenarios are not strategies – instead, they provide challenging contexts for decision-making. In the face of pressing policy concerns around climate adaptation and mitigation, the need to integrate scenarios with governance and planning processes is high, and greater understanding is needed about how such links could be made effective.

We present a global research project that evaluates the use of scenarios for policy development in the context of climate adaptation, socio-economic development and food security through six case studies. First, regional scenarios were developed by stakeholders in six global regions: East and West Africa, South and Southeast Asia, the Andes and Central America. Participants used a novel method for the combination of many interacting drivers in the scenarios. The scenarios were then quantified using two global agricultural economic models, IMPACT and GLOBIOM, and linked to the new global Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs). In each of these regions, dialogues with governments led to the identification of a number of specific national policy processes (Cambodia, Honduras, Peru, Bangladesh, Ghana, Uganda) where the process leaders welcomed the opportunity for scenario-guided policy design. For this purpose, those involved in the processes and wider groups of stakeholders used a method for re-imagining the regional scenarios to ensure a perfect fit with policy concerns. These adapted scenarios were used in detailed analyses of the policy drafts, and suggested changes were taken up into new policy drafts and taken forward toward finalization and implementation, supported by the project researchers.

To study these processes, hypotheses about best practice and indicators were formulated with regional partners. Research results show that 1) a focus on specific policies yielded the clearest impacts; that 2) the establishment of trust between researchers and policy makers was key to ensure an effective, open process; that 3) the scenarios had to be flexible enough to be adapted for specific policy concerns but credible enough to be seen as useful; 4) that challenges associated with government turn-over and re-structuring had to be overcome and 5) that scenario-guided policy processes have to be highly transparent for those not involved in them. We translate these lessons into recommendations to help respond to a widespread need for effective scenario-guided policy development.

18:20

Social responses to climate change: What can participatory games and scenarios tell us?

J. Pardoe (United Nations University, Bonn, Germany), M. Garschagen, (United Nations University, Bonn, Germany)

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Social responses to climate change: What can participatory games and scenarios tell us?

J. Pardoe (1) ; M. Garschagen, (1)
(1) United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security, Bonn, Germany

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Climate change concerns are exceptionally pressing in agro-ecosystems, where social-ecological connections are particularly close. However, inherent climate uncertainties make anticipatory adaptation of agriculture-dependent communities particularly challenging. This paper draws on scenario analysis in order to understand how local level decision making processes in three rural communities in West Africa may unfold as climate change progressively reveals itself.

Empirical evidence was collected using a game designed around future uncertainty with climate change. Participatory games based on scenarios provide a safe space in which to explore potential futures and the respective patterns of individual and collective decision-making. The gaming method was used specifically to understand how the social actors might respond to climate change impacts on agricultural production, paying particular attention to the ability to maintain the fundamental functions of the agro-ecosystem. The method proved particularly valuable for eliciting information on potentially negative futures that participants are otherwise reluctant to consider and discuss, due to the predominance of inherently fatalistic worldviews in the case study region. The results have revealed important insights on the role of thresholds and tipping points in decision making. These can be reached through both sudden and gradual changes, yet with significantly different implications for adaptation decisions and the consecutive system configuration.

Based on this novel method, the paper is able to make a number of contributions to the empirical and conceptual understanding of adaptation decisions in coupled social-ecological systems. Lessons can in particular be drawn on the question which role different speeds and depths of environmental change have on triggering the level and type of adaptation action. The data suggest that sudden and extreme events are more likely to trigger more reflexive and more fundamental adaptation responses than gradual environmental degradation, with the latter implying a high risk or rigidity traps in the case study regions.

The research further allows drawing a number of methodological lessons, particularly with regards to the strengths but also weaknesses of participatory scenario methods. In order to arrive at wider conclusions, the lessons from the rural agricultural context in West Africa are juxtaposed with lessons learned in another project, where participatory scenario development has been applied by the authors in a very different setting, i.e. on adaptation trajectories in coastal megacities, jointly generated with adaptation and planning professionals. Recommendations for other researchers are formulated and amendments to the current literature discussed.

18:30

In search of analytically sound and socially viable energy strategies: linking stakeholder narratives with energy scenarios

E. Trutnevyte (Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research-Supply of Electricity, Zurich, Switzerland)

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In search of analytically sound and socially viable energy strategies: linking stakeholder narratives with energy scenarios

E. Trutnevyte (1)
(1) Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research-Supply of Electricity, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

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Climate change mitigation requires a rapid transformation of the energy sector. Energy strategies that are both analytically sound and socially viable can lay foundation for this transformation. I will propose a set of scenario methods that enable development of such strategies by linking narratives of stakeholders and the public (to capture the social viability component) with quantitative energy scenarios (to capture the analytical component). After discussing the limitations of the conventional story-and-simulation approach, where several narratives are represented by one quantitative scenario each (from one narrative to one scenario), I will propose three alternatives. The first approach translates normative narratives, or so-called stakeholder visions, into many scenarios (from one narrative to many scenarios). The second approach compares several narratives, based on multiple scenarios, in order to elicit commonalities and differences of the narratives (from many narratives to many scenarios). The third approach develops the narratives and scenarios simultaneously and then finds best matches (many narratives and many scenarios, side by side). These three methods will be illustrated with the cases of regional and municipal energy strategies in Switzerland, electricity system transition pathways in the UK, and risk governance process for deep geothermal power plants. I will close with reflections on the real-world impacts and stakeholder learning effects that were captured in the described studies.

18:40

The IPCC narrative(s) – themes, actors, and storylines

K. Fløttum (University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway), Ø. Gjerstad, (University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)

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The IPCC narrative(s) – themes, actors, and storylines

K. Fløttum (1) ; Ø. Gjerstad, (1)
(1) University of Bergen, Department of foreign languages, Bergen, Norway

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This abstract is submitted to the session "Scenarios, public deliberation and decisions":

The IPCC has the challenging mandate to produce “policy-relevant and yet policy-neutral, never policy-prescriptive” reports related to climate change. The policy relevance, based on the most comprehensive assessment of climate change research undertaken, is condensed and presented in the IPCC Summaries for Policymakers (SPM). With this as a backdrop, as well as numerous previous studies undertaken on IPCC communication (e.g. Bowman et al. 2009; Budescu et al. 2009; Budescu et al. 2014; Harris et al. 2013; Hulme 2013; Jonassen and Pielke 2011), the current paper proposes to undertake a textual and narrative analysis of the SPM of the 2014 IPCC AR5-SynthesisReport (SYR). The chosen perspective here is particularly interesting since IPCC authors themselves now have started to characterise their documents as “narratives”.  We will examine to what extent the SYR-SPM corresponds to the typical narrative structure (Adam 2008), with a clear storyline or scenario comprising specific content components and actors. Our intention is to broaden the current discussion of language use in the IPCC assessment reports, by looking not only at the calibrated language for handling uncertainties set out for the IPCC authors, but also the contribution of other language and textual devices that may contribute to fulfil the communicative goals of the IPCC, which are to present a consensual message to be used by policymakers.

Narratives are crucial to people’s understanding of the discourse and to their potential engagement with the challenge at stake (Jones 2011, 2013). The notion of narrative has been used in a somewhat loose sense to describe a variety of texts genres. However, some research has also been done on applying the notion in a more rigorous way in order to understand to what extent there may be a storyline in texts related to climate change (Fløttum 2013; Fløttum and Dahl 2012; Fløttum and Gjerstad 2013), with a point of departure in the hypothesis that such texts can be considered as climate change narratives. This expression refers to text and talk presenting climate change as a certain type of COMPLICATION, with implicit or explicit recommendations or imperatives for ACTION(S) taking place or that should take place in order to achieve some particular EFFECT(S) or FUTURE SOLUTIONS (Adam 2008).It is this last part of the narrative which is particularly interesting to the scenario focus given to the present session – the action(s) and effect(s) components. We will further investigate how the three SPMs from Working groups 1 – 3, representing to some extent three different worlds, are combined in a new narrative in the SYR SPM. What are the themes, scenarios and ways of thinking promoted, which could prime, guide and frame audiences’ appropriations of the conveyed messages?

Narratives have plots with different actors involved, in the roles of HERO, VICTIM or VILLAIN. Recent research on the concept of narrative in the policy process (Jones 2010, 2013) has found that the use of “heroes” is “particularly powerful in shaping opinion about climate change” (Shanahan et al., 2013: 456). We investigate to what extent there may be room for heroes in the SYR SPM, or whether actors such as victims and villains are the only appropriate actors in the IPCC context.        

Questions to be further discussed: To what extent is there a storyline structuring the SYR-SPM? Which scenario may best promote transformational policies?

Our findings will provide a basis for discussing the potential impact of texts such as the SPMs on target audiences and for discussing links between linguistic and scenarios research, public deliberation and decisions.

18:50

Q&A session

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Q&A session
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