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Climate change responses in a context of uncertainty

Susannah Fisher, Ben Garside

Briefing, 2 pages

Climate change presents several challenges to planning and implementation of policies and programmes. There are significant uncertainties regarding future climate change. Precipitation projections from climate models do not converge well for many parts of the world. There may be sudden tipping points with implications for both long-term infrastructure decisions and large investments and shorter-term interventions. Climate change in the future may undermine current decisions; people and businesses may invest in livelihoods and enterprises that will need to alter. Current decisions may need to be adjusted to account for a range of future possibilities. Adaptation decisions will need to be taken pre-emptively to avoid large costs, losses and damage.

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Uncertainty about the speed and impacts of climate change makes it difficult to design and implement policies that are resilient to long-term climate shocks and stresses. Institutional processes based on social learning offer a flexible approach that can help to address uncertainty and complexity, and enable effective climate responses.

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Using social learning to address climate uncertainties