Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

  • 24 May 2016

We need the full picture to plan for climate change impacts

How can society plan for the future if we only look at individual issues in isolation?

Climate change impact studies typically focus on a single sector such as agriculture, forestry or water, ignoring the implications of how different sectors interact. A new study, published in Nature Climate Change, suggests that an integrated, cross-sectoral approach to climate change assessment is needed to provide a more complete picture of impacts that enables better informed decisions about climate adaptation.

The importance of a cross-sectoral approach as a prerequisite for any type of comprehensive climate impact assessment is not a new notion. Already stressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is surprising that until now no published research has assessed the differences between impacts simulated by single sector and integrated models.

The paper is one output of the FP7-funded EU project IMPRESSIONS, which ECI researchers within the Biodiversity and Climate Adaptation groups work on. It aims to assess the implications of high-end climate change (+2 degrees and above) and to demonstrate the benefits of using multi-sectoral modelling approaches.

Researchers used the CLIMSAVE Integrated Assessment Platform (an output from the ECI-led CLIMSAVE project) to look at what is left out when models don’t consider the interactions between climate and society and between sectors.

"If we want to plan for the future we can’t just focus on climate: we need to consider society and cross-sectoral interactions too."

Dr Robert Dunford, Senior Research Fellow

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