31 October 2016

Supporting national climate policy

Options Magazine Winter 2016: While policymakers around the world grapple with the complex problem of setting their countries’ climate commitments, IIASA research has been helping to provide a clear, quantitative evidence base.

© Toa555| Dreamstime

© Toa555| Dreamstime

The 2015 Paris climate talks yielded an unprecedented agreement, pledging to keep global warming well below 2°C, and endeavoring to limit it to 1.5°C. But these lofty ambitions must be backed up by clear action by all countries. Under the agreement, each country decides for itself how much it is willing to do to combat climate change—its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)— and how it will reach those targets. Identifying exactly where emissions savings can be made, in the most efficient and effective way, is an essential but challenging task.

To aid policymakers, IIASA researchers have adapted the Global Biosphere Management Model to test how different policies will affect emissions from land use, and trained local scientists in its use. “In Brazil, for instance, the local modeling team we trained has worked very closely with representatives from the Ministry of the Environment and climate negotiators,” says IIASA researcher Aline Mosnier.

“That close collaboration was essential to ensure that we were making the right assumptions in the models, and that we were testing realistic policy scenarios.” This process enabled the team to give Brazilian policymakers a clear picture of how measures to cut emissions from deforestation and other land‑use change could contribute to meeting their targets. “Giving the Brazilian government tangible actions with measurable effects meant that our results were used as a key part of the country’s INDC,” says Mosnier.

This work has been extended to the Congo basin and the model is also being adapted for use in Indonesia. “Many countries struggle to produce quantitative estimates of how much they could realistically reduce emissions, but for the land‑use sector at least we can help them,” says Mosnier.

It is not only the construction of climate strategies that this work can apply to. IIASA researcher Nicklas Forsell has been working on ways to assess the policies already in place. “Using the modeling frameworks as IIASA, we assess whether a country is already on track for meeting their INDC or whether they need to make more effort,” says Forsell. He has also been examining how much the land‑use sector can contribute to climate mitigation on a global scale.

“This work not only helps countries construct their own INDCs, it is also an important part of creating a trusting and transparent environment for climate negotiations in the future,” says Forsell. “Being able to point to the quantitative evidence that forms the basis of your INDCs helps build trust with other nations.”

Text by Daisy Brickhill

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Last edited: 24 August 2017


Nicklas Forsell

Research Scholar Integrated Biosphere Futures Research Group - Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program

T +43(0) 2236 807 334

Options Winter 2016

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313