Scenarios: Definitions and Relevance for the IPCC Stampa E-mail

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by IPCC Secretariat

Scenarios of plausible greenhouse gas emissions and concentration pathways and the response of key climate forcing factors, and future societal and technological development are significant determinants of potential anthropogenic climate change and form an important component of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

They serve as the basis for evaluating potential climate change impacts as well as socio-economic mitigation and adaptation pathways. Mandated by the Panel, the research community which supports the IPCC coordinates the process of development of new scenarios.

Earlier generation of scenarios
In 1992 the IPCC released emission scenarios to be used for driving global circulation models to develop climate change scenarios. The so-called IS92 scenarios were pathbreaking. They were the first global scenarios to provide estimates for the full suite of greenhouse gases. Since then, much has changed in the understanding of possible future greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
In 1996 the IPCC decided to develop a new set of emissions scenarios which provided input to the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR), but were of a broader use than the IS92 scenarios. The Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) covered a wide range of the main driving forces of future emissions, from demographic to technological and economic developments. However, these scenarios did not include additional climate initiatives, which mean that they did not explicitly consider the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or the emissions targets of the Kyoto Protocol.
Four different narrative storylines or scenario families (A1, A2, B1 and B2) were developed to consistently describe the relationships between emission driving forces and their evolution and added context for the scenario quantification. Each storyline represented different demographic, social, economic, technological, and environmental developments


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