Workshop on The Nature and Use of New Socioeconomic Pathways for Climate Change Research

By March 10, 2012Report

National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, CO November 2-4, 2011

Meeting Report

Final Version, March 12, 2012

Scientific Steering Committee

Brian O’Neill (chair), National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Timothy R. Carter, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Helskinki, Finland.

Kristie L. Ebi, IPCC Working Group II Technical Support Unit, Stanford, California, USA. Jae Edmonds, Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, Maryland, USA. Stephane Hallegatte, Centre International de Recherche sur l’Environnement et le

Developpement (CIRED), Paris, France.

Linda Mearns, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, Colorado, USA. Keywan Riahi, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg,


1. Introduction

The Boulder workshop on socio-economic development pathways was one element of a series of meetings facilitating a community-wide process for developing new scenarios for use in climate change research and assessment.

The climate change research community is pursuing development of a new framework for the creation and use of scenarios to improve interdisciplinary analysis and assessment of climate change, its impacts, and response options. This process, as formulated at the IPCC Workshop on Scenarios in Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands, in 2007, includes a set of forcing pathways, known as the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), to be combined with alternative socio- economic development pathways (Moss et al., 2008, 2010). Development of RCPs has been completed and these pathways are now documented in a special issue of Climatic Change (van Vuuren et al., 2011), and climate model simulations based on them are well under way as part of the CMIP5 exercise (Taylor et al., 2011).

Over the past two years, researchers have turned to the task of developing socio-economic development pathways, and a series of meetings has been held to facilitate progress and synthesize approaches. A joint IPCC-NAS workshop in Washington, DC, in 2010 explored the needs for socioeconomic and environmental futures that could be used with climate scenarios (NRC, 2010) and served as a stimulus for a number of proposed frameworks within which such scenarios could be developed (van Vuuren et al., 2012; Kriegler et al., 2010). An IPCC Workshop on Socioeconomic Scenarios held in Berlin in November 2010 brought together researchers from the integrated assessment modeling (IAM); impacts, adaptation and vulnerability (IAV); and climate modeling (CM) communities to consider the task and led to adoption of a unified framework for the development of a small set of Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) and their use in conjunction with the RCPs and associated climate model simulations for the development and assessment of integrated research. A framework paper (Arnell et al., 2011) was subsequently produced, and is in preparation for submission to a peer- reviewed journal.

In the meantime, efforts on developing the content of the socio-economic pathways themselves continued. At a meeting in Chongwon City, South Korea, in July 2011, researchers came together to compare notes on experiments with new pathways as implemented in IA models, conceptual development related to SSPs, and application to IAV analysis. The integrated assessment modeling community held a follow up meeting in October 2011 to further compare model experiments based on potential SSPs.

In early November, 2011, the Boulder meeting was held with the joint purpose of adopting a basic set of narratives for the SSPs and laying out priorities for further activities. The meeting should therefore be seen as one important step in a longer term process that involved substantial

previous work, and anticipates further progrBoulder Workshop Report_0ess to be made. In this report, we provide in section

2 an outline of the meeting itself, including its specific goals and general content, and in section

3 a summary of the meeting outcomes. These include the identification of key elements of SSPs that should be included in order to make them most useful to IAM and IAV analysis, the basic narratives for each of five SSPs adopted at the meeting (with the possibility held open of a sixth SSP), needs for a longer-term process of development and use of the SSPs, and key actions that should be taken over the shorter term to carry the process forward.

Core Writing Team

Brian C. O’Neill, Timothy R. Carter, Kristie L. Ebi, Jae Edmonds, Stephane Hallegatte, Eric Kemp-Benedict, Elmar Kriegler, Linda Mearns, Richard Moss, Keywan Riahi, Bas van Ruijven, Detlef van Vuuren


This workshop was supported by the Integrated Science Program at the National Center for

Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO.

Suggested Citation

O’Neill, B.C., Carter, T.R., Ebi, K.L., Edmonds, J., Hallegatte, S., Kemp-Benedict, E., Kriegler, E., Mearns, L., Moss, R., Riahi, K., van Ruijven, B., van Vuuren, D. 2012. Meeting Report of the Workshop on The Nature and Use of New Socioeconomic Pathways for Climate Change Research, Boulder, CO, November 2-4, 2011.

Complete version : Boulder Workshop Report_0

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