Dynamic Adaptive Pathways in Downscaled Climate Change Scenarios

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Josef Korbel School of International Studies, International Studies


Climate change, Scenario, Dynamic adaptive pathways, Climate-related risks


The parallel scenario process enables characterization of climate-related risks and response options to climate change under different socio-economic futures and development prospects. The process is based on representative concentration pathways, shared socio-economic pathways, and shared policy assumptions. Although this scenario architecture is a powerful tool for evaluating the intersection of climate and society at the regional and global level, more specific context is needed to explore and understand risks, drivers, and enablers of change at the national and local level. We discuss the need for a stronger recognition of such national-scale characteristics to make climate change scenarios more relevant at the national and local scale, and propose ways to enrich the scenario architecture with locally relevant details that enhance salience, legitimacy, and credibility for stakeholders. Dynamic adaptive pathways are introduced as useful tools to draw out which elements of a potentially infinite scenario space connect with decision-relevant aspects of particular climate-related and non-climate-related risks and response options. Reviewing adaptation pathways for New Zealand case studies, we demonstrate how this approach could bring the global-scale scenario architecture within reach of local-scale decision-making. Such a process would enhance the utility of scenarios for mapping climate-related risks and adaptation options at the local scale, involving appropriate stakeholder involvement.

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