Our Common Future Under Climate Change

International Scientific Conference 7-10 JULY 2015 Paris, France

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Wednesday 8 July - 15:00-16:30 UPMC Jussieu - Amphi Durand

2203 - Defining dangerous climate change: Contributions from the AR5 ‘Key Risks’ and ‘Reasons for Concern’ frameworks and future directions

Parallel Session

Lead Convener(s): R. Licker (Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, United States of America), B. O'neill (National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, CO, United States of America), M. Oppenheimer

Convener(s): R. Warren (Tyndall Centre, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom)

15:00

Opening Talk

R. Licker (Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, United States of America)

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Opening Talk
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15:05

Key risks in the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report: a basis for evaluating and responding to danger from climate change

K. Mach (Carnegie Institution for Science / IPCC WGII TSU, Stanford, CA, United States of America), M. Mastrandrea (Carnegie Institution for Science / IPCC WGII TSU, Stanford, CA, United States of America), V. Barros, (Universidad de Buenos Aires / IPCC WGII, Buenas Aires, Argentina), C. Field (Carnegie Institution for Science / IPCC WGII, Stanford, CA, United States of America)

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Key risks in the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report: a basis for evaluating and responding to danger from climate change

K. Mach (1) ; M. Mastrandrea (1) ; V. Barros, (2) ; C. Field (3)
(1) Carnegie Institution for Science / IPCC WGII TSU, Stanford, CA, United States of America; (2) Universidad de Buenos Aires / IPCC WGII, Buenas Aires, Argentina; (3) Carnegie Institution for Science / IPCC WGII, Stanford, CA, United States of America

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The Working Group II contribution to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report provides a cohesive and integrative assessment of key risks in a changing climate. The assessment informs judgments about danger from climate change, and it provides an actionable summary of the opportunities for response. This presentation will introduce the assessment framework developed, the resulting conclusions about risks and options across possible climate futures, and the implications for future research and assessment. In the Fifth Assessment Report, key risks are defined as potentially severe impacts relevant to Article 2 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. They emerge from high hazard or high vulnerability or exposure of affected societies and systems. Across chapters of the assessment, authors identified key risks based on expert judgment using specific criteria, encompassing large magnitude or high probability of impacts, timing or irreversibility of impacts, persistent vulnerability or exposure contributing to risks, or limited potential to reduce risks through adaptation or mitigation. For key risks across sectors and regions, the assessment evaluates changing levels of risk over the next few decades, an era of some further locked-in warming, and in the second half of the 21st century and beyond, a longer-term era of climate options. It considers the potential for risk reduction through adaptation along with the limits to adaptation. Throughout, the risk levels reflect probability and consequence over a full range of possible outcomes due to climatic and non-climatic factors. Key risks spanning sectors and regions include risk of severe ill-health and disrupted livelihoods from flooding and extreme heat, of food and water insecurity, and of ecosystem and biodiversity loss, as well as systemic risks from extreme events. Overall, the key risk assessment supports the report’s overarching conclusion about risks globally with continued high emissions: increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts. The key risk assessment also highlights defining features of the climate challenge and priorities for future research. These include the importance of complex, multi-step interactions in shaping risks, the need for rigorous expert judgment in evaluating risks, the limitations in current abilities to quantify risks, and the centrality of risk perceptions, values, and goals in determining responses.

15:20

Measuring the dynamics of risks at the global and local level: information for transformative change

J. Birkmann (Institute for Spatial and Regional Planning, Stuttgart, Germany), T. Welle, (Institute for Spatial and Regional Planning, Stuttgart, Germany), W. Solecki (CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities , New York City, United States of America), M. Garschagen, (United Nations University,, Bonn, Germany), M. Pelling, (King's College London, London, United Kingdom), J. Agboola, (Lagos State University, Lagos, Nigeria, Federal Republic of)

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Measuring the dynamics of risks at the global and local level: information for transformative change

J. Birkmann (1) ; T. Welle, (1) ; W. Solecki (2) ; M. Garschagen, (3) ; M. Pelling, (4) ; J. Agboola, (5)
(1) Institute for Spatial and Regional Planning, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany; (2) CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities , New York City, United States of America; (3) United Nations University,, Institute for Environment and Human Security, Bonn, Germany; (4) King's College London, Department of geography, London, United Kingdom; (5) Lagos State University, Lagos, Nigeria, Federal Republic of

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Key risks identified in the IPCC AR5 encompass various themes and dimensions, however, all these risks underscore the influence of climate change on hazards and the significance of exposure and vulnerability as determinants of risk. Based on selected risks identified in the AR5 the presentation examines how core determinants of these key risks and their dynamics, namely hazard patterns, exposure and vulnerability at the global and local scale, can be measured and quantified. Measuring changing hazard conditions, exposure of people and their vulnerability demonstrate that particularly increasing exposure contributes to increasing risks levels in various countries and urban areas (global overview). This global overview with national level resolution will be complemented by two local risk studies.

The second part of the paper examines risk configurations and changes in risk profiles for selected large-scale, coastal cities. Coastal cities are at the frontline of living with climate and socio-economic change. Existing adaptation and development visions that should address key risks tend towards policies for stability (resistance) or flexibility to protect existing core functions (resilience). There is increasing recognition in the academic literature that a third policy option of fundamental change (transformation) is needed in order to address key determinants of the key risks also named in the AR5. Against this background changes in local risk profiles and risk trends are examined and specific policy options to confront these risks are discussed. This part of the presentation draws from a Belmont Forum funded study, Transformation and Resilience on Urban Coasts (TRUC), that examines five coastal megacities to begin to profile transformative options based on the assessment of dynamics of hazards, exposure and vulnerability to climate change related risks.

Concrete examples of past and present risk patterns are presented using the case studies of New York and Lagos. In addition, methods and results of new scenario techniques are shown that underscore the importance of exploring future pathways of exposure and vulnerability next to climate change scenarios. Differences and synergies between quantitative and qualitative scenario techniques will be explored using the local level risk studies. In conclusion, we formulate recommendations on how to use this information on changing risk profiles for promoting resilience and transformative change at local level focusing on policy options for adaptation in the two case studies.

15:35

Downscaling the “Reasons for Concerns” to the Local Government Level as a Prerequisite for Tailored Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction – A Case Study from Austria

A. M. Hama (alpS Centre for Climate Change Adaptation, Innsbruck, Austria), I. Anders, (Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), Vienna, Austria), A. Baumgarten, (Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), Vienna, Austria), H. Berthold, (Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), Vienna, Austria), B. Eder (alpS Centre for Climate Change Adaptation, Innsbruck, Austria), A. Felderer, (Environment Agency Austria, Vienna, Austria), O. Fritz, (Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO), Vienna, Austria), R. Jandl (Austrian Research Centre for Forests, Vienna, Austria), M. Keuschnig, (alpS Centre for Climate Change Adaptation, Innsbruck, Austria), S. Kienberger (University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria), M. Leitner (Environment Agency Austria, Vienna, Austria), Z. Malek, (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria), R. Mechler (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria), I. Meyer (Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO), Vienna, Austria), I. Offenthaler, (Environment Agency Austria, Vienna, Austria), A. Schaffhauser, (Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), Vienna, Austria), F. Sinabell (Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO), Vienna, Austria), R. Spiekermann, (University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria)

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Downscaling the “Reasons for Concerns” to the Local Government Level as a Prerequisite for Tailored Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction – A Case Study from Austria

AM. Hama (1) ; I. Anders, (2) ; A. Baumgarten, (3) ; H. Berthold, (3) ; B. Eder (1) ; A. Felderer, (4) ; O. Fritz, (5) ; R. Jandl (6) ; M. Keuschnig, (1) ; S. Kienberger (7) ; M. Leitner (4) ; Z. Malek, (8) ; R. Mechler (8) ; I. Meyer (5) ; I. Offenthaler, (4) ; A. Schaffhauser, (2) ; F. Sinabell (5) ; R. Spiekermann, (7)
(1) alpS Centre for Climate Change Adaptation, Innsbruck, Austria; (2) Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), Vienna, Austria; (3) Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), Vienna, Austria; (4) Environment Agency Austria, Vienna, Austria; (5) Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO), Vienna, Austria; (6) Austrian Research Centre for Forests, Vienna, Austria; (7) University of Salzburg, Department of geoinformatics – z_gis, Salzburg, Austria; (8) International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria

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IPCC’s Burning Embers – Reasons for Concern illustrate the future global risk development split into five categories and visualize the trends. To date, this holistic concept has not been transferred to the local government level where risks associated with climate change are mostly still understood and analyzed in a sector- and hazard-specific manner rather than in a scenario-based way.

In the project ARISE (Adaptation and Decision Support via Risk Management Through Local Burning Embers) funded by the Austrian Climate Research Program, closing this gap is a research focus, and a decision support system for climate-sensitive iterative risk management as a key adaptation approach is developed. The City of Lienz in East Tyrol, Austria serves as a pilot site for ARISE. The project’s overall objectives are (i) to contribute to identifying and bridging the gaps between global frameworks, research and policy related to climate change and disaster risk reduction and national, subnational as well as local risk management and adaptation needs and requirements by coupling and integrating information across scales, (ii) to downscale the “Burning Embers - Reasons for Concern” to the local level (LBE) with respect to hazard types and sectors including a consideration of key risk drivers, and (iii) to support the building of resilience and adaptation capacities at the local level via an LBE-integrated, iterative risk management approach that takes participatory processes and learning from practitioners into account.

In order to meet the project’s objectives, user-oriented methods in the form of hybrid techniques (top-down and bottom-up, model-driven and participatory) are used. To date, interviews with various stakeholder groups have been conducted and a comprehensive desk review on global, regional and national frameworks has been completed. Based on this input, the generic framework for downscaling the Burning Embers – Reasons for Concern to the local level has been developed. To apply this framework to the study site, regional climate scenarios for the City of Lienz have been computed. Further methods for determining the LBEs include the building of regional socio-economic scenarios by focusing on region-specific knowledge and visions (by means of a scenario workshop), supported by socio-economic modelling. Moreover, a land-use scenario is being developed and indicators have been determined that also take confidence levels into account. In order to integrate the LBEs into the local risk management of Lienz and design tailored climate-sensitive risk management measures, a collaborative approach will be taken again, test runs will be conducted as well as a monitoring&evaluation concept devised. All information and processes will be fed into a dynamic risk information tool. The decision support system for climate-sensitive iterative risk management will be standardized to enable a wider application and roll-out.

In this presentation, an overview of the ARISE project and its concept will be given. The generic framework as as well as its application to the City of Lienz will be presented and challenges discussed. Additionally, an outlook on the next steps and expected findings to be obtained through the integration of the LBEs with risk management and adaptation strategies will be provided. 

15:50

Reasons For Concern as a Tool for Assessing Dangerous Climate Change and their Utility for Climate Negotiations

L. Charles, L. Charles (Charles & Associates, Inc., St. George's, Grenada)

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Reasons For Concern as a Tool for Assessing Dangerous Climate Change and their Utility for Climate Negotiations

L. Charles (1)
(1) Charles & Associates, Inc., St. George's, Grenada

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The Reasons for Concern framework has been used by the IPCC to communicate its results to policy makers in a policy informative, but not policy prescriptive manner. It assesses the risks in light of the UNFCCC Article 2 - to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system - by presenting a continuous representation of how key risks change with temperature rise. The framework has been used in the UNFCCC negotiations as one of the key inputs to the process of the 2013-2015 review of the adequacy long-term global goal under the UNFCCC.

 

Key issues that I will explore in this context are (a) how well do the RFCs reflect the full scope of Article 2, including impacts on ecosystems, food production and sustainable development? and (b) The extent of its use in the UNFCCC review,  the results obtained from its use and the utility of these results.

 

From a policy perspective, the RFC framework has approached the analysis of these risks through a global lens. However, policy responses to these risks take place at the national and regional levels, primarily through adaptation action. It is therefore very relevant to also review the framework’s applicability in informing policy at the national and regional levels. This will be done from the perspective of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

 

Key questions to explore in this context include:

 

  • What is dangerous Climate Change from the perspective of SIDS? What are their key risks? How well do the RFCs reflect these risks?
  • How are these RFCs, and the associated risk levels, perceived by policy makers and does that match with the scientific definitions? Are these consistent with SIDS experience of the impacts from these risks and their perception of these risks?
  • Does this framework help SIDS to assess these risks? What kinds of decisions can policy-makers arrive at from using this framework? 

In reviewing these questions, two major obstacles can be identified, which may be of general importance beyond the SIDS context. Firstly, is the somewhat different character of the RFCs. While RFC 1,2 and 5 (unique systems, extreme events and singular events) are clearly defined and understandable, this is not the case for RFC 3 and 4 (distribution and aggregated impacts), where the names of the RFCs may imply a different assessment than what is in the scope of the RFCs.

 

A second obstacle identified is connected to the question of the translation from regional to global risks and relates to the assessment of the specific risk levels. In particular, the step from moderate to high risks is crucial. While moderate risks reflect that “associated impacts are both detectable and attributable to climate change”, high risks indicate “severe and widespread impacts”. From the perspective of a region that is highly vulnerable but not widespread in terms of land area, this is not an intuitive categorization, since there is a lot between these two risk levels and the question arises re how high, or very high, local risks translate to global risks in such an assessment.

 

In my presentation, I will reflect on these issues and discus the pros and cons of the RFC approach giving special consideration to its usefulness for the UNFCCC process and for SIDS. I will also discuss a potential way forward for further improvements of the concept.

16:07

The IPCC Reasons for Concern: History, current status, and future directions

B. O'neill (National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, CO, United States of America)

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The IPCC Reasons for Concern: History, current status, and future directions

B. O'neill (1)
(1) National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, CO, United States of America

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The Reasons for Concern (RFCs) framework, developed in the Third Assessment Report (TAR) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), organizes scientific information to inform decisions relevant to implementation of Article 2 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Article 2 contains the Convention’s long-term objective of avoiding “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. The framework facilitates judgments about changes in impacts, risks, and vulnerability as a function of global mean warming by sorting and aggregating them into five categories viewed from a global perspective. The RFC framework and the associated “Burning Embers” diagram illustrating these judgments have been widely discussed and applied. We sketch the history of the use of the RFC framework in IPCC assessments and describe refinements made for the recent Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). In AR5, the RFCs were reframed to define all five categories in terms of risk. In addition, a more consistent approach to judging risk was used that was linked to the concept of Key Risks that was used across much of the Working Group 2 report. We also illustrate how risk judgments are grounded in the scientific literature and highlight remaining challenges to making such judgments. Useful improvements to the RFC framework include better accounting for alternative metrics of climate change beyond the level of global average temperature change, explicit incorporation of the future vulnerability of society and ecosystems, and better communicating the specific risks over which RFC categories aggregate.

16:27

General Discussion

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General Discussion
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