Enriching the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways to co-create consistent multi-sector scenarios for the UK

Sci Total Environ. 2021 Feb 20;756:143172. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143172. Epub 2020 Nov 16.

Abstract

As the pressure to take action against global warming is growing in urgency, scenarios that incorporate multiple social, economic and environmental drivers become increasingly critical to support governments and other stakeholders in planning climate change mitigation or adaptation actions. This has led to the recent explosion of future scenario analyses at multiple scales, further accelerated since the development of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) research community Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) and Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). While RCPs have been widely applied to climate models to produce climate scenarios at multiple scales for investigating climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilities (CCIAV), SSPs are only recently being scaled for different geographical and sectoral applications. This is seen in the UK where significant investment has produced the RCP-based UK Climate Projections (UKCP18), but no equivalent UK version of the SSPs exists. We address this need by developing a set of multi-driver qualitative and quantitative UK-SSPs, following a state-of-the-art scenario methodology that integrates national stakeholder knowledge on locally-relevant drivers and indicators with higher level information from European and global SSPs. This was achieved through an intensive participatory process that facilitated the combination of bottom-up and top-down approaches to develop a set of UK-specific SSPs that are locally comprehensive, yet consistent with the global and European SSPs. The resulting scenarios balance the importance of consistency and legitimacy, demonstrating that divergence is not necessarily the result of inconsistency, nor comes as a choice to contextualise narratives at the appropriate scale.

Keywords: Environmental impact assessment; Global; Multiscale scenarios; National; Socioeconomic.