Climate Mitigation and Adaptation – transition towards a climate resilient post-carbon society

Climate change impacts are already observable in the environment and they are experienced across sectors and geographies. Increases in temperature, changes in precipitation and decreases in ice and snow occur locally and globally with each year revealing another record in observed changes. The 10 warmest years since the start of climate records have all occurred since year 2000 with the exception of 1998. 2015 was reported as the warmest on record to date (Source: NASA/GISS). In order to keep the world below a 2 Degree average global warming, the growth in global yearly emission growth need to peak by 2020 at the latest and emissions must be reduced to half the emissions of 1990 by mid-century with deep cuts needed thereafter the growth in global yearly emission growth must peak by 2020 at the latest and emissions need to be reduced to half the emissions of 1990 by mid-century and deep cuts will be needed thereafter (EUROSTAT). Global anthropogenic GHG emissions amounted to 38 GtCO2e in 1990 and had increased to 49 Gt CO2e by 2010 (IPPC). It's a daunting but not impossible task. Due to inertia in the climate system, we need to adapt today and prepare for more impacts regardless of national and international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Our take on the challenges

Climate change mitigation is about implementing policies that reduce GHG emissions and/or increase sinks, and about changing practices by citizens and businesses. To facilitate this, solid data on emissions and their impact on the environment are needed as well as knowledge on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different policy instruments, target group behavior and policy integration across sectors and between different administrative levels. Our research focus is on:

  • Understanding synergies and conflicts between regulation of greenhouse gasses and other sector policies, including assessing and valuing co-benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Improving insights on behavioral aspects with regard to how and why people, businesses and societal groups react to different policy instruments;
  • Developing methods for assessing the climate and environment impacts and interlinkages of different production systems in the bio-economy;

Adaptation to climate change necessitates changes in ecological, social and economic systems as a reaction to occurring and expected climate change. Adaptation occurs in processes, practices and structures to minimize damages or (temporary) benefits from effects of climate change. Adaptation is needed both across sectors and across levels of decision-making. Our research focus is on:

  • Investigating the adaptive capacity of public and private actors given uncertainty of future climate conditions;
  • Estimating costs and benefits of climate adaptation;
  • Assessing the welfare economic consequences of different climate scenarios on selected sectors;
  • Understanding everyday practices under extreme weather events;
  • Assessing how to ensure cohesion across policy and administrative areas with regard to climate adaptation.
  • Analysing how society can adapt cost-effectively to existing and future expected negative (and positive) climate changes most effectively.

Within the SGA Climate, researchers from Environmental Social Science work together with atmospheric chemists and physicists at ENVS to understand and advance our understanding of climate mitigation and adaptation. SGA Climate works closely together with SGA Sustainable Energy & Environment on mitigation.