The Feasibility of Avoiding Future Climate Impacts: Results from the AVOID Programmes
Abstract:The AVOID programme and its successor, AVOID2, have focused on answering three core questions: how do we characterise potentially dangerous climate change and impacts, which emissions pathways can avoid at least some of these impacts, and how feasible are the future reductions needed to significantly deviate from a business-as-usual future emissions pathway. The first AVOID project succeeded in providing the UK Government with evidence to inform its position on climate change. A key part of the work involved developing a range of global emissions pathways and estimating and understanding the corresponding global impacts. This made use of a combination of complex general circulation models, simple climate models, pattern-scaling and state-of-the art impacts models. The results characterise the range of avoidable impacts across the globe in several key sectors including river and coastal flooding, cooling and heating energy demand, crop productivity and aspects of biodiversity. The avoided impacts between a scenario compatible with a 4ºC global warming and one with a 2ºC global warming were found to be highly sector dependent and avoided fractions typically ranged between 20% and 70%. A further key aspect was characterising the magnitude of the uncertainty involved, which is found to be very large in some impact sectors although the avoided fraction appears a more robust metric.
The AVOID2 programme began in 2014 and will provide results in the run up to the Paris CoP in 2015. This includes new post-IPCC 5th assessment evidence to inform the long-term climate goal, a more comprehensive assessment of the uncertainty ranges of feasible emission pathways compatible with the long-term goal and enhanced estimates of global impacts using the latest generation of impact models and scenarios.