UK socioeconomic scenarios for climate research and policy

This project will produce UK specific downscaled socio-economic narratives and gridded data for a range of indicators, extended to 2100. These will be internally consistent as well as consistent with the Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) that will underpin the next IPCC assessment report.

The context for the project

There are key UK climate resilience research questions which require the availability of robust exposure and vulnerability data. Several global socioeconomic scenario exercises have emerged from the climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem service communities some of which have been interpreted and downscaled to regions, including Europe and the UK. However, these tend not to be comprehensive in treating the full range of possible socioeconomic change drivers or are not easy to map to international scenarios. Further, as yet, no regionally enriched versions of the global SSPs are publicly available for the UK to combine with RCP-based climate projections.

This new project aims to fill this gap by developing a set of internally consistent socioeconomic scenarios for the UK that is coherent with the IPCC SSPs, and which will provide the basis for further UK research on climate risk and resilience.

Key project aims and objectives

The project has a number of objectives:

  • to identify key socioeconomic indicators needed to address climate resilience issues
  • to downscale the existing global and European SSPs for the UK by extending them spatially, temporally and sectorally
  • to develop a modelling framework that captures the interrelationships between different socioeconomic indicators in the scenario narratives
  • to create internally consistent quantitative projections for the key socioeconomic indicators
  • to publicise the new scenarios to the UK climate resilience community

Project outputs

A dedicated webpage has been published for the outputs of the UK-SSPs project, which are available for people to use. This includes a set of narratives; semi-quantitative trends; quantifications for specific variables; and visualisations of the interrelationships between those variables for a nested set of UK and country-specific SSPs that are consistent with the global/European context. This allows UK-specific research by the climate resilience community that is consistent with the IPCC process, including research and analysis for the fourth Climate Change Risk Assessment.

A summary infographic for the UK-SSPs project is available here.

The role of the User Panel and Advisory Group

An important aspect of the project is engagement with the climate resilience community, who are potential users of the scenarios. A User Panel, consisting of stakeholders and researchers from different disciplines relevant to climate resilience research, are providing the project team with input and feedback throughout the project. The role of the separate Advisory Group is to support the project team in ensuring the outputs of the project are directly usable within the UKCR SPF programme in general and meet the requirements of future CCRAs.

This project is funded under the Met Office work package ‘From Climate Hazard to Climate Risk’

Resources

Outputs: Products of the UK-SSPs project

Infographic: https://www.ukclimateresilience.org/uk-ssps-infographic/

Project website: UK socioeconomic scenarios for climate research and policy (UK-SSPs) 

Presentation: Co-creating socio-economic scenarios to support future research and policy on UK climate risk and resilience by Paula Harrison of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

News

Introducing socio-economic scenarios

Pioneering study develops shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs) to equip research on UK climate resilience

Publications

Pedde, Simona; Harrison, Paula A., Holman, Ian P., Powney, Gary D., Lofts, Stephen; Schmucki, Reto; Gramberger, Marc and Bulock, James M: Enriching the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways to co-create consistent multi-sector scenarios for the UK. Science of the Total Environment. November 2020, 143172

Funding

The project is commissioned by the Met Office and is funded by the UK Climate Resilience Programme. It is carried out by Cambridge Econometrics in collaboration with the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), University of Edinburgh and University of Exeter. The development of the UK-SSPs built upon work carried out by UKCEH’s UK-SCAPE Programme delivering National Capability.

UK-SCAPE logo, with tagline UK status, change and projections of the environment