Journal Article

Transition pathways to sustainability in greater than 2°C climate futures of Europe.

This paper presents a novel methodology that combines transition management and high-end climate and socioeconomic change scenarios to identify pathways and move Europe closer to sustainability.

The complex challenges arising from climate change that exceeds the +2 °C target (termed ‘high-end climate change’) in Europe require new integrative responses to support transformations to a more sustainable future.

In this paper, we present and apply a novel methodology for developing pathways within the context of high-end climate and socioeconomic change scenarios and their inherent non-linearity and deep uncertainty (Tabara et al. 2018). It is the first time the pathways methodology has been advanced in such a way to be applied in the context of high-end scenarios, and given its application and results, we contend that it is a novel way to initiate policy guidance for climate change in high-end scenarios.

Eighteen pathways have been co-created with stakeholders through a participatory process, linking climate change adaptation and mitigation and including a mix of sectoral strategies, transformational actions and solutions. The pathways support Europe in moving towards a desirable future vision, through top-down and bottom-up actions that lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce impacts of and vulnerabilities to climate and socioeconomic changes and enhance well-being.

We analysed the pathways to identify those which are robust over a broad range of plausible socioeconomic and climatic conditions given the uncertainty associated with high-end climate change in supporting the achievement of the vision. Our analysis shows that three pathways ((a) lifestyle changes, (b) sustainability governance and (c) integrated resource management) can be found in all four of the climate and socioeconomic scenarios used in this study and are thus considered to be robust. In the analysis of the pathways, we also identify synergies and trade-offs between different actions and strategies, as well as the institutional conditions and the actors required to implement them.

After the discussion of these results, the paper closes with a short assessment of the usefulness of this new approach to the co-creation of pathways. It is concluded that the methodology can support the design of the urgent actions needed to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement and to transform Europe, in preparation for an uncertain future.

Frantzeskaki, N., Hölscher, K., Holman, I.P., Pedde, S., Jaeger, J., Kok, K. & Harrison, P.A. (2019). Transition pathways to sustainability in greater than 2°C climate futures of Europe. Regional Environmental Change, 19(3), 777–789.

February 19, 2019