IMPRESSIONS aims to work with decision-makers to improve understanding of the impacts, risks, vulnerability and adaptation options associated with high-end climate and socio-economic scenarios.
The project includes a number of innovative features:
- Decision-makers will be involved throughout the project, working closely with researchers to identify the technical and political problems they face when making decisions about complex and uncertain issues, and the information, tools and methods they need to overcome these barriers. This participatory approach should ensure that the project outputs meet the needs of decision-makers, helping them to make long-term plans based on a full awareness of climate risks, adaptation limits and mitigation opportunities.
- The climate scenarios will be integrated with underlying socio-economic storylines, determined through consultation with decision-makers so that the scenarios are credible and useful. The scenarios will reflect the high levels of variability and uncertainty that characterise high-end climate change futures, as well as the potential for non-linear effects, climate tipping points, such as ice-sheet collapse, and socio-economic shocks, such as large scale migration of climate refugees.
- The project will build on a suite of existing climate change impact and adaptation models from European and international centres of excellence. These will be combined with new models that overcome the limitations of conventional impact models, which fail to account for individual behaviour in the real world. These agent-based models will simulate adaptation as a process driven by the behaviour of individual decision-makers, firms and institutions that can learn and interact with each other.
- The models will include interactions between different sectors, e.g. agriculture, forestry and biodiversity, and different regions, e.g. Europe and the rest of the world, as they compete for resources such as land, water and energy. The models will also allow the exploration of synergies and trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation actions, such as the potential for tree-planting to alleviate flooding as well as storing carbon. This will inform recommendations for planners on how to practice Integrated Climate Governance, which is the production of integrated adaptation and mitigation plans that exploit synergies and minimise conflicts as far as possible.
- The models will be applied to five case studies at different scales: global, European and local or regional (Hungary, Iberia and Scotland), to ensure that they can tackle complex real-life situations. Influential decision-makers associated with each case study will come together in a series of workshops to explore the risks, opportunities, costs and benefits associated with different adaptation and mitigation pathways, and how this information might be effectively embedded within decision-making processes. The methods developed will aim to foster synergies between adaptation and mitigation, and to build resilience in the face of uncertainty.
- The project will build a long-term community of actively involved stakeholders through developing an online knowledge network and information hub, which will reach out beyond the project participants to the wider public and other policy-makers, researchers and innovators. This will support mutual learning and help decision-makers to take up the project’s recommendations.
The outputs of IMPRESSIONS are likely to offer a new set of reasons for people and organisations to reconsider their approach to climate change policies and actions, including a more precise justification for early, aggressive mitigation, and the reframing of the climate and development challenge. In particular, the project can identify policies that can become a source of economic innovation rather than a financial burden – including those with multiple benefits across sectors, and those which exploit synergies between adaptation and mitigation options.