IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

TS.3 Methods and scenarios

TS.3.1 Developments in methods available to researchers on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability

Since the Third Assessment (TAR), the need for improved decision analysis has motivated an expansion in the number of climate-change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability (CCIAV) approaches and methods in use. While scientific research aims to reduce uncertainty, decision-making aims to manage uncertainty by making the best possible use of the available knowledge [2.2.7, 2.3.4]. This usually involves close collaboration between researchers and stakeholders [2.3.2].

Therefore, although the standard climate scenario-driven approach is used in a large proportion of assessments described in this Report, the use of other approaches is increasing [2.2.1]. They include assessments of current and future adaptations to climate variability and change [2.2.3], adaptive capacity, social vulnerability [2.2.4], multiple stresses and adaptation in the context of sustainable development [2.2.5, 2.2.6].

Risk management can be applied in all of these contexts. It is designed for decision-making under uncertainty; several detailed frameworks have been developed for CCIAV assessments and its use is expanding rapidly. The advantages of risk management include the use of formalised methods to manage uncertainty, stakeholder involvement, use of methods for evaluating policy options without being policy-prescriptive, integration of different disciplinary approaches, and mainstreaming of climate-change concerns into the broader decision-making context [2.2.6].

Stakeholders bring vital input into CCIAV assessments about a range of risks and their management. In particular, how a group or system can cope with current climate risks provides a solid basis for assessments of future risks. An increasing number of assessments involve, or are conducted by, stakeholders. This establishes credibility and helps to confer ‘ownership’ of the results, which is a prerequisite for effective risk management [2.3.2].