The virtual Earth System Governance conference in Bratislava, Slovakia will be taking place between 7 and 9 September, 2021. The conference brings together the largest social science research network in the area of governance and global environmental change, and is organised around the theme ‘Earth System Governance in turbulent times’.

RECEIPT scientist Dr. Suraje Dessai will be virtually participating in the conference, presenting his work “Imagining the Unprecedented: Developing Climate Risk Storylines“. The abstract of his presentation is available below (as found in the conference’s Book of abstracts):

Climate risk storylines are emerging as a scientific method to explore what plausible chain of climate conditions and weather events would lead to significant climate hazards, including those that have not yet been observed. Risks associated with climate impacts are increasingly being realised through unprecedented events that disrupt everyday functions of social and natural systems. Therefore, storylines that focus on the sequence of causes and consequences underpinning climate related droughts, wildfires and floods are having greater salience for decision-makers in policy and planning.

A better understanding of how severe weather events will unfold is needed to offer realistic visions of the future affected by climate change, which challenges the imagination. Without personal memory of experience or cultural narratives as a foundation, guidance is needed to even imagine significant climate events that are now plausible. Climate risk storylines are being developed to address that need, based on causal chains founded in physics and backed up by simulations and models. Storyline research design can link analytic modes such as global climate models, localised hydrological models and simulations. With a focus on causal links, rather than on how likely something is to occur, these climate risk storylines consider social and economic drivers and vulnerabilities as well as climatic drivers and physical landscape processes. The resulting storyline narratives are communicated through words and visualisations to help decision-makers to better envision emerging climate risks.

This paper discusses the development of climate risk storylines as a method for the evidence-based construction of plausible future events, aiming to describe rather than quantify climate hazards. The paper reviews literature underpinning the storyline approach and explores the research design process used in the H2020 funded RECEIPT project which is developing storylines across five sectors significant for the EU. Each sector involves scientific leaders and societal partners to ensure stakeholder insights influence the research design through an element of coproduction. Storylines can complement approaches that frame uncertainty in terms of likelihood and quantities of change, which, on their own are difficult to interpret. Storylines develop multiple event chains to address uncertainty, showing possible evolutions of extreme weather events. Climate risk storylines can be useful to inform immediate decisions that affect adaptive planning, preparations for emergency response, and future outlooks requiring transformational change.

Register here for the conference.

Published on : 11 August 2021