IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change New global scenario analyses confirm the importance of development paths for mitigation

Section 3.1.5 discusses some factors that determine development paths, such as structural changes in production systems, technological patterns in sectors, such as energy, transportation, building, agriculture and forestry, geographical distribution of activities, consumption patterns and trade patterns. After publication of IPCC TAR, several new scenarios relating to climate change or global sustainability were published, making different assumptions for these factors. Most of them confirm the main findings of SRES (see also Chapter 3). It is important, however, to translate the lessons derived from scenarios (which are often global in scale) to national and even local level policy choices that can lead to the desired outcomes.

For the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment (MEA), four scenarios explored implications of development pathways for global and regional ecosystem services, loosely based on the SRES but developed and enriched further (Alcamo et al., 2005; Carpenter and Pingali, 2005; Cork et al., 2005). For the next 50 years, all scenarios find that pressures on ecosystem services increase with the extent of the pressure being determined by the particular development path. The MEA scenarios identify climate change next to land-use change as a major driver of biodiversity loss in the coming century. Quality of the services differs strongly by scenario - with the most positive scenarios finding a clear improvement in some services and the most negative scenario, finding a general decrease. The MEA scenario analysis, thus, emphasizes that development of ecosystem services, biodiversity, human wellbeing and the capacity of the population to deal with these developments is largely determined by the choice of development pathway.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, 2002), used SRES scenarios as well as the scenarios of the World Water Vision (Gallopin and Rijsberman, 2000) and the Global Scenario Group (Raskin et al., 1998) as inspiration for the development of four development pathways for the third Global Environmental Outlook (UNEP/RIVM, 2004): Markets First, Security First, Policy First and Sustainability First. Again, the different development pathways reflected by these scenarios are associated with a wide range of GHG emissions similar to the range captured by the SRES scenarios.

Shell’s Low Trust Globalization, Open Doors and Flags scenarios explore how different future development pathways could affect the company’s business environment. In the Open Doors scenario, CO2 emissions increase most rapidly as a result of higher economic growth and the absence of security-driven investment in indigenous renewable energy sources, even if people may be more concerned about climate change than in other scenarios. The Low Trust Globalization scenario is characterized by larger barriers to international trade and cooperation. Paradoxically, there could be faster progress towards carbon efficiency as a result of a different set of policies aimed at energy efficiency, conservation and development of renewables, notably wind and, possibly, nuclear power. Finally, the Flags scenario with a patchwork of national approaches could show positive responses to climate change because of factors such as the pursuit of self-reliance (Shell, 2005).

Several scenarios developed since the TAR have explored different development pathways, but without explicitly addressing climate change or GHG emissions. The characteristics of these pathways in terms of the rate and structure of geopolitical, economic, social and technological development, however, would result in large variations in GHG emissions. Four scenarios developed by the US National Intelligence Council (Davos World, Pax Americana, A New Caliphate and Cycle of Fear) explore how the world may evolve until 2020 and what the implications for US policy might be, focusing on security concerns (NIC, 2004). The National Intelligence Council scenarios show the possible impacts of particular development pathways in some regions for other regions. Also, in several developing countries, different future development pathways have been explored in systematic scenario exercises, for example, China (Ogilvy and Schwartz, 2000); the Mont Fleur scenarios for South Africa (Kahane, 2002); the Guatemala Vision (Kahane, 2002); Destino Colombia (Cowan et al., 2000); Kenya at the crossroads (SID/IEA, (Society for International Development and the Institute of Economic Affairs), 2000). Taking global climate change explicitly into account would strengthen and enrich development-oriented scenarios as the ones mentioned above.

Case studies in Tanzania (Agrawala et al., 2003a), Fiji (Agrawala et al., 2003c), Bangladesh (Agrawala et al., 2003b), Nepal (Agrawala et al., 2003a), Egypt (Agrawala et al., 2004b) and Uruguay (Agrawala et al., 2004a) show how climate-change adaptation can be integrated with national and local development policies, often as a no-regrets strategy. Implementation of no-regrets strategies is, however, not without challenges. A study of the Baltic region explores a sustainable development pathway addressing broad environmental, economic and social development goals, including low GHG emissions. It points out that a majority of the population could favour - or at least tolerate - a set of measures that change individual and corporate behaviour to align with local and global sustainability (Raskin et al., 1998). Kaivo-oja et al. (2004) conclude that climate change as such may not be a major direct threat to Finland. However, the effects of climate change on the world’s socio-economic system and the related consequences for the Finnish system may be considerable. The Finnish scenario analysis, which is based on intensive expert and stakeholder involvement, suggests that such indirect consequences have to be taken into account in developing strategic views of possible future development paths for administrative and business sectors.

Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (MNP, 2005) has developed the four IPCC SRES scenarios for a sustainability outlook for the Netherlands. The four scenarios represent four world perspectives with four different views on future priorities for action to make development more sustainable. This outlook points at several dilemmas. Surveys showed that 90% of the Dutch population prefer a future which would be different from the globalizing, market-oriented A1 scenario. Yet, A1 appears to be the future they are heading for. A majority of the population also thinks that something has to be done about unsustainable production and consumption patterns, and suggest that the government should do more. The study suggests that the regional (European) level may be the most appropriate level to address sustainability issues. Global political, economic and cultural differences make effective global policy difficult, while many sustainability issues go beyond local or national capacity to develop and implement effective policies.

Scenarios describe different states of the world that could come about by different developments in the driving forces that are often of a geopolitical nature and are largely unaffected by national or local policy-making. These scenarios studies reveal that different pathways are possible, but also that pursuing them involves many complex challenges. Such challenges include consideration of indirect effects, and difficulties in translating the often positive attitude of the population towards sustainable futures into concrete changes. Decision-makers have to consider the robustness of alternative development pathways they pursue through their policy choices, in the face of global developments they will be confronted with.