New study offers economic scenarios for UK climate research and policy

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

A ‘pioneering’ study has developed a set of UK-SSPs (Shared Socioeconomic Pathways) and provides products that will aid future research into the UK’s climate resilience.

Cambridge Econometrics led a partnership with UK Centre of Ecology & HydrologyUniversity of Edinburgh, and University of Exeter to develop the UK-SSPs, producing five scenario pathways with a host of products that can be used by the climate resilience research community.

Jon Stenning, Principal Investigator and Head of Environment at Cambridge Econometrics commented on the completion of the project: “This analysis fills a key gap in existing climate resilience research by providing a set of socio-economic scenarios, consistent with existing global modelling, upon which future research can be based.

“Having a common underpinning for future risk evaluations will strengthen the robustness of future analysis and ensure that policy can be developed building on a common base.”

Commissioned by the Met Office and funded by the UK Climate Resilience Programme, this set of UK-SSPs is consistent with the global SSPs.

Used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global SSPs are a set of plausible socio-economic future outlooks up to 2100 that provide ‘the challenging context within which future decisions on climate change mitigation and adaptation must be determined and implemented.’

SSPs are considered an essential part of global and national climate resilience because they recognise the interrelation between physical climate change and socio-economic factors.

Until now, UK-specific versions of the global SSPs have been unavailable.

Five project products are hosted on the UK Climate Resilience Programme-website:

  • Scenario fact sheets containing a detailed narrative of each UK-SSP
  • Systems diagram videos showing the interrelationships between the socio-economic drivers in each scenario
  • Semi-quantitative trends for 50 socioeconomic variables
  • Quantified spatial projections for 25 key socioeconomic variables
  • Interface for exploring and accessing each UK-SSP.

Professor Suraje Dessai, Professor of Climate Change Adaptation at the University of Leeds and co-champion of the UK Climate Resilience Programme, commented: “Comprehensive assessments of climate change risk require not only information about how the climate could change, but also how society could evolve during this century.

“The UK-SSP project and products provide this critical information in multiple formats – narratives, semi-quantitative trends and quantified spatial projections – which can now be integrated into climate impact, risk and adaptation assessments by researchers and practitioners.

“The use of UK-SSPs in research and planning will enhance the robustness of climate adaptation decision-making to uncertainty.”

More information about this project is available on the UK Climate Resilience Programme-website.