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Environment Magazine September/October 2008


March-April 2014

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A New Toolkit for Developing Scenarios for Climate Change Research and Policy Analysis

Yogi Berra succinctly captured how economic growth, technology change, demographic change, and climate change are altering visions of what the future could bring: "the future ain't what it used to be."1 Understanding the range and character of possible futures is critical to furthering assessment of climate change, including the potential risks to physical, natural, and human systems in the context of different development pathways, and mitigation and adaptation options to avoid, prepare for, and manage those risks. Because concerns about climate change span the current to the far future, the field has a long history of using scenarios to explore and evaluate the extensive uncertainties associated with future climate change and development pathways.

Kristie L. Ebi is an independent consultant, Consulting Professor at Stanford University, and Guest Professor at Umea University, Sweden. She co-chairs the International Committee On New Integrated Climate change assessment Scenarios (ICONICS) facilitating development of the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs). Her research focuses on understanding sources of current and future vulnerability and designing adaptation policies and measures to reduce the risks of climate change in the context of multi-stressor environments.

Tom Kram is program manager for integrated assessment modeling at PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and co-chairs the International Committee On New Integrated Climate change assessment Scenarios (ICONICS) facilitating development of the SSPs. He was and is involved in the development of scenarios for global environmental assessments, including the previous set of IPCC scenarios published in the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) and scenarios for the OECD Environmental Outlooks.

Detlef P. van Vuuren is a senior researcher at PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and a professor of integrated assessment of global environmental change at Utrecht University. Detlef P. van Vuuren has been involved in the development of scenarios in several environmental assessments, including the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) and the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs).

Brian C. O'Neill leads the Integrated Assessment Modeling group within the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. His research interests are in the field of integrated assessment modeling of climate change, focusing on the relationship between socioeconomic development pathways, emissions, and climate change impacts, and scenario analyses linking long-term climate change goals to shorter-term actions.

Elmar Kriegler is vice chair of the research domain Sustainable Solutions at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. His research focuses on the integrated assessment of climate change, in particular on mitigation pathways in the context of climate change.

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