Assessing future climate change impacts in the EU and the USA: insights and lessons from two continental-scale projects
Climate change will impact many economic sectors and aspects of natural and human wellbeing. Quantifying these impacts as they vary across regions, sectors, time, and social and climatological scenarios supports detailed planning, policy, and risk management. This article summarises and compares recent climate impact assessments in Europe (the JRC PESETA III project) and the USA (the American Climate Prospectus project). Both implement a multi-sector perspective combining high resolution climate data with sectoral impact and economic models. The assessments differ in their coverage of sectors and scenarios, mix of empirical and process-based methods, handling of uncertainty, and representation of damages. Despite the dissimilarities, projected relative economic impacts are comparable, with human mortality as the dominant impact category. Both studies further show a large spatial heterogeneity of impacts that may amplify pre-existing economic inequality in the EU and US, and that mitigation can considerably reduce economic impacts. The comparison highlights the various decision-points involved in interdisciplinary climate impact modelling and lessons learnt in both projects, on the basis of which we provide recommendations for further research.
Juan-Carlos Ciscar, James Rising, Robert E Kopp and Luc Feyen, Environmental Research Letters, Volume 14, Number 8, 2019.