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How social science can help find new solutions to the climate crisis

How social science can help find new solutions to the climate crisis

How social science can help trace new paths out of the climate crisis

How social science can help trace new paths out of the climate crisis
Credit: Victoria Denisova, Shutterstock

Solid data is essential for policymakers, industry leaders, and civil society leaders to help them develop and implement strategies that will achieve the Paris Agreement’s objectives. To support these decisions, scientists developed long-term global scenarios known as integrated assessment models (IAMs) that combine different strands of knowledge—natural science, engineering and economics.


The ENGAGEThe 4-year-long project “Exploring National and Global Actions for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction” is a program of research and innovation that aims to develop new pathways to decarbonisation. It combines the traditional knowledge from IAMs with cutting edge insights from social sciences.

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria, coordinates the project. It has 24 partners organizations from 15 countries across Europe, Asia, South America. The resulting pathways will be credible and legitimate because they draw on a wide range industry and policy experience. This will allow us to see the multidimensionality of decarbonisation and help us to identify opportunities to strengthen climate policy.

The pathways, which are intended to minimize temperature overshoot, won’t rely on controversial or unrealised negative emissions technologies. Instead, they will incorporate game-changing innovations as well as conceptually innovative approaches to international climate agreement architectures.

The ENGAGE project, which will run until 2023 has already had a string of success stories. The first generation of pathways was developed and presented in five papers which contributed significantly to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report—Working Group III that will inform the UNFCCC 2023 global stocktake. These contributions will also be used to help design mid-century strategies to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

ENGAGE has also created and hosted the Sixth Assessment Report Scenario Explorer. This resource is critical for the IPCC authors to allow them to carry out a thorough and efficient assessment of different pathways.

The project has also been developed. visualization toolFor assessing the multidimensional viability of climate mitigation paths. This framework allows for the assessment of the timing, disruptiveness, and scale feasibility concerns. It also allows for the identification of trade-offs across multiple feasibility dimensions.

This framework was already applied to scenarios in IPCC SR1.5 and formed the backbone for the Second Order Draft IPCC AR6 concerning the evaluation of transformation paths from IAMs.


The feasibility of transformation pathways for achieving the Paris Climate Agreement


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How social science can help find new ways out of the climate crisis (2021, Nov 22)
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