There is widespread acceptance that human greenhouse emissions are changing the climate. Decision-makers now need reliable science-based information to help them respond to the risks of climate change impacts and assess opportunities for adaptation. However, these impacts will be in addition to, or concurrent with, those associated with continuing socio-economic and political changes. Our vulnerability to, and the potential impacts of, climate change therefore need to be evaluated in a holistic or integrated assessment of the effects of our changing future. This will enable stakeholders to explore and understand the interactions between different sectors, rather than viewing their own area in isolation, and build the capacity of decision-makers to understand how cross-sectoral vulnerability to climate change might be reduced by various adaptation options.
The project addressed these issues by building on previous work on climate change monitoring and impact assessment, existing sectoral modelling tools and cross-sectoral stakeholders’ knowledge with the ultimate goal of providing online-accessible software that allows stakeholders to undertake their own climate change impact and adaptation assessment using a holistic approach. The consortium consists of 18 partners representing 11 EU countries plus China and Australia. Members are mainly academia and research centres. The project was coordinated by University of Oxford (United Kingdom) and funded under FP7-ENV. Final conclusions will be reached in mid-2013.
There are three main achievements: (i) a new participatory scenario methodology which provides the holistic scenarios for the assessment, (ii) the CLIMSAVE Integrated Assessment Platform, that allows managing scenario-based climate change impact and adaptation assessment and (iii) application of the methodology at two different geographical scales: local and continental.
(i) The participatory methodology has involved multidisciplinary experts in a continuous engagement process to ensure a stakeholder-driven platform conceptual design. As part of this process, the stakeholders defined qualitative socio-economic scenarios, adaptation strategies and the linkage between them, which are all key elements for the tool implementation.
(ii) Using the holistic approach provided by the methodology, the Integrated Assessment Platform enables a wide range of professional, academic and governmental stakeholders to improve their understanding surrounding climate change impacts, adaptation responses and vulnerability under uncertain futures. The tool provides assessment of impacts as well as vulnerability and assessment of adaptation options and their cost-effectiveness.
(iii) Geographical scales: The platform was initially designed for being used at a continental scale in Europe and later tailored to Scotland to test the regional application of the approach.
The platform is mainly intended to be used by governmental environmental agencies and policy-makers as a support tool for discussion and by higher education as a teaching instrument in related fields. It allows stakeholders to undertake rapid simulations of cross-sectoral impacts and to explore adaptation strategies for reducing climate change vulnerability. It can be applied to sectors such as agriculture, forests, biodiversity, coasts, water resources and urban development.
The tool is already working at the prototype level, but the maturity of each application is different. The screens for impacts and adaptation are already available while the ones for cost-effectiveness and vulnerability are still under development. In this context, the Technology Readiness Level is estimated to be 6 on the TRL scale. The tool was conceived to be freely available. Feedback from the platform users is continuously taken into account by the consortium, as they are intending to keep working on future improvements to make the software more accurate and versatile.