SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Towards climate resilient economies

The EU has adopted ambitious policy goals for a transition to a low carbon society by 2050. A detailed roadmap published in 2011 suggests that the EU should cut its emissions to 80% below 1990 levels through domestic reductions alone by 2050, with a cut in of 40% in the next 15 years. If these goals are to be met, fundamental transformations to energy generation and demand are required.

A new project, ‘Transitions pathways and risk analysis for climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies’ (TRANSrisk), led by Prof Gordon MacKerron, has received funding of €7.4 million from the European Commission* to help facilitate the necessary move towards low-carbon sustainable and climate resilient economies.

Currently, ways of analysing and assessing climate evolution, impacts, and mitigation options are faced with a high degree of uncertainty. As a result, the risks and effects of different mitigation options related to technological innovation are often not sufficiently understood and quantified, and therefore are not appropriately included into policies. 

In March 2014 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that the world is ill-prepared to address the risks of climate change resulting from vulnerability, exposure, and overlapping hazards triggered by climate events . At the same time, the degree of public acceptance of low-carbon technologies, which could impede the introduction of technically and economically feasible options, needs to be taken into account in developing policies. 

TRANSrisk will create a framework in which risks and uncertainties are integral to the assessment of how climate change mitigation and adaptation affects the overall economic, social and environmental well-being of society in the EU, emerging countries, and at the broader global level. It will also assess the interlinkages between climate change mitigation and adaptation pathways and uncertainty, as well as generate mitigation and adaptation scenarios. These scenarios will help our understanding of the challenges, the interrelations between actors and/or sectors, as well as the feasible options for low-carbon pathways.

The project will help policymakers by providing robust estimates of the costs and risks associated with climate change as well as of the costs, benefits and other effects of actions that may limit, stop or reverse the magnitude and/or rate of long-term climate change. In addition, it will offer ways to devise policies that are robust against uncertainty, engaging multiple stakeholders, and acknowledging that there is no single ‘optimal’ pathway to mitigate or adapt to climate change. 

TRANSrisk involves 12 partner organisations. Professor MacKerron said: "I'm delighted that SPRU will be leading on this large EU-funded project with partners across Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.  We will be creating a new framework for looking at the vital issue of policy for climate change, combining insights from both modelling work and stakeholder engagement". 

Within SPRU, Dr Jenny Lieu is the scientific coordinator for the project and Dr Guadalupe Alvarez Tinoco is research fellow.


*TRANSrisk has been funded under the Societal Challenges pillar of Horizon 2020, in particular under Societal Challenge number 12: Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials