Applying the global RCP-SSP-SPA scenario framework at sub-national scale: A multi-scale and participatory scenario approach

Abiy S Kebede (Lead / Corresponding author), Robert J Nicholls, Andrew Allan, Iñaki Arto, Ignacio Cazcarro, Jose A Fernandes, Chris T Hill, Craig W Hutton, Susan Kay, Attila N Lázár, Ian Macadam, Matthew Palmer, Natalie Suckall, Emma L Tompkins, Katharine Vincent, Paul W Whitehead

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Abstract

To better anticipate potential impacts of climate change, diverse information about the future is required, including climate, society and economy, and adaptation and mitigation. To address this need, a global RCP (Representative Concentration Pathways), SSP (Shared Socio-economic Pathways), and SPA (Shared climate Policy Assumptions) (RCP-SSP-SPA) scenario framework has been developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC-AR5). Application of this full global framework at sub-national scales introduces two key challenges: added complexity in capturing the multiple dimensions of change, and issues of scale. Perhaps for this reason, there are few such applications of this new framework. Here, we present an integrated multi-scale hybrid scenario approach that combines both expert-based and participatory methods. The framework has been developed and applied within the DECCMA1 project with the purpose of exploring migration and adaptation in three deltas across West Africa and South Asia: (i) the Volta delta (Ghana), (ii) the Mahanadi delta (India), and (iii) the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) delta (Bangladesh/India). Using a climate scenario that encompasses a wide range of impacts (RCP8.5) combined with three SSP-based socio-economic scenarios (SSP2, SSP3, SSP5), we generate highly divergent and challenging scenario contexts across multiple scales against which robustness of the human and natural systems within the deltas are tested. In addition, we consider four distinct adaptation policy trajectories: Minimum intervention, Economic capacity expansion, System efficiency enhancement, and System restructuring, which describe alternative future bundles of adaptation actions/measures under different socio-economic trajectories. The paper highlights the importance of multi-scale (combined top-down and bottom-up) and participatory (joint expert-stakeholder) scenario methods for addressing uncertainty in adaptation decision-making. The framework facilitates improved integrated assessments of the potential impacts and plausible adaptation policy choices (including migration) under uncertain future changing conditions. The concept, methods, and processes presented are transferable to other sub-national socio-ecological settings with multi-scale challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-672
Number of pages14
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume635
Early online date24 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018

Keywords

  • RCP–SSP–SPA scenario framework
  • Integrated assessment
  • Multi-scale scenarios
  • Participatory approach
  • Coastal deltas
  • Migration and adaptation

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    Kebede, A. S., Nicholls, R. J., Allan, A., Arto, I., Cazcarro, I., Fernandes, J. A., Hill, C. T., Hutton, C. W., Kay, S., Lázár, A. N., Macadam, I., Palmer, M., Suckall, N., Tompkins, E. L., Vincent, K., & Whitehead, P. W. (2018). Applying the global RCP-SSP-SPA scenario framework at sub-national scale: A multi-scale and participatory scenario approach. Science of the Total Environment, 635, 659-672. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.03.368