Understanding high-end climate change: from impacts to co-creating integrated and transformative solutions


The world is not yet on track to meet the Paris Agreement climate change target of keeping global average temperature rise within 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. Current greenhouse gas emission trends point to much more substantial warming, with possible increases of 4 °C or more in the long-term. This Special Issue describes findings from the IMPRESSIONS project which advanced the understanding of impacts of high-end climate change (defined as global mean temperatures > 2 °C above pre-industrial levels) and potential solutions for reducing these impacts through adaptation, mitigation and transformative actions. With stakeholders, the project developed a set of integrated climate and socio-economic scenarios and applied these to multi-sectoral impact models in five case studies: Hungary, Scotland, Iberia, Europe as a whole and Central Asia. This showed that benefits in some regions and sectors, such as increasing forest productivity in northern Europe, are offset by detrimental effects in others, such as severe water scarcity, heat stress and loss of productivity in southern Europe and parts of central and eastern Europe, and widespread flood damage. Adaptation and mitigation pathways were generated with stakeholders to address these impacts and identify integrated and transformative solutions. These highlighted the importance of shifting to sustainable lifestyles, good governance for sustainability and climate resilience, and new forms of integrated and sustainable resource management. The stakeholder-led approach of IMPRESSIONS ensured that the research was driven by the priorities of decision-makers, enabling significant co-learning and the identification of robust, innovative and effective solutions for addressing high-end climate change.

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We are grateful to all IMPRESSIONS partners and stakeholders for their contributions to many productive discussions throughout the project.


This research was financially supported by the EU-funded IMPRESSIONS project (Grant Agreement 603416).

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Correspondence to Paula A. Harrison.

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Harrison, P.A., Jäger, J., Frantzeskaki, N. et al. Understanding high-end climate change: from impacts to co-creating integrated and transformative solutions. Reg Environ Change 19, 621–627 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-019-01477-9

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  • High-end climate change
  • Socio-economic change
  • Adaptation
  • Mitigation
  • Transformation
  • Pathways
  • Impacts
  • Models
  • Scenarios