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Climate science in climate security scenarios

Abstract

The climate is changing and this will have consequences across the globe, affecting all areas of the natural and human environment in complex ways. One tool for exploring the complex relationship between climate change and security is to use a scenariobased approach as means to develop plausible rather than probable narratives. This approach can explore the range of uncertainty, and help policymakers to visualise the potential consequences of climate change. Scenario methodology has been most comprehensively developed for use in business planning and there are some differences in the way scenarios work for climate security. The most notable is the fact that there is a physical modelling basis for climate projections. This means that the uncertainty range associated with at least this one aspect of the scenario can be systematically sampled. This paper reviews how scenarios have been used in the climate security literature to date, in particular in the grey literature. The integration of climate projections is explored in detail, as the main distinguishing feature of climate security scenarios over other scenario types. Few climate security scenarios have been developed to date, but all those included in this review, regardless of the differences in national conditions, regional climate change and potential responses, came to very similar conclusions. This was despite differences in the changes in climate and non-climate drivers, or differences in the scenario approach and audience. A more systematic and scientific approach to developing the scenario drivers and narratives is recommended, and successfully embedding changes in climate within the socio-economic context, through better integration of inter-disciplinary expertise, is critical.

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Correspondence to Kirsty Lewis.

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This article is part of a Special Issue on “Climate and Security: Evidence, Emerging Risks, and a New Agenda” edited by François Gemenne, Neil Adger, Jon Barnett, and Geoff Dabelko.

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Lewis, K. Climate science in climate security scenarios. Climatic Change 123, 11–22 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0945-7

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Keywords

  • Climate Change
  • Climate Impact
  • Climate Projection
  • Climate Science
  • Scenario Planning