Building SSPs for Climate Policy Analysis
A Scenario Elicitation Methodology to Map the Space of Possible Future Challenges to Mitigation and Adaptation
Published in: Climatic Change, Sep. 2013
Posted on RAND.org on September 01, 2013
The scientific community is now developing a new set of scenarios, referred to as Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) that will be contrasted along two axes: challenges to mitigation, and challenges to adaptation. This paper proposes a methodology to develop SSPs with a "backwards" approach based on (i) an a priori identification of potential drivers of mitigation and adaptation challenges; (ii) a modelling exercise to transform these drivers into a large set of scenarios; (iii) an a posteriori selection of a few SSPs among these scenarios using statistical cluster-finding algorithms. This backwards approach could help inform the development of SSPs to ensure the storylines focus on the driving forces most relevant to distinguishing between the SSPs. In this illustrative analysis, we find that energy sobriety, equity and convergence prove most important towards explaining future difference in challenges to adaptation and mitigation. The results also demonstrate the difficulty in finding explanatory drivers for a middle scenario (SSP2). We argue that methodologies such as that used here are useful for broad questions such as the definition of SSPs, and could also be applied to any specific decisions faced by decision-makers in the field of climate change.