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SSP Future Technologies Assignment

Please pick two Shared Socioeconomic Pathways from the previous reading (

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.01.004

(Links to an external site.)

), and for each one, write a 200 word description of what your technology use will be like ten years into that future.

Follow the rubric because you will be assessed by this document!!( check the rubric I upload

Follow the rubric because you will be assessed by this document!!( check the rubric I upload

Follow the rubric because you will be assessed by this document!!( check the rubric I upload

Global Environmental Change 42 (2017) 169–180
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Global Environmental Change
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/gloenvcha
The roads ahead: Narratives for shared socioeconomic pathways
describing world futures in the 21st century
Brian C. O’Neill a,*, Elmar Kriegler b, Kristie L. Ebi c, Eric Kemp-Benedict d, Keywan Riahi e,f,
Dale S. Rothman g, Bas J. van Ruijven a, Detlef P. van Vuuren h,i, Joern Birkmann j,
Kasper Kok k, Marc Levy l, William Solecki m
a
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), PO Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80305, USA
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, PO Box 601203, 14412 Potsdam, Germany
c
University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
d
Stockholm Environment Institute, 15th Floor, Witthyakit Building, 254 Chulalongkorn University, Chulalongkorn Soi 64, Phyathai Road, Pathumwan,
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
e
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
f
Graz Univeristy of Technology, Graz, Austria
g
Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, 2201 South Gaylord Street, Denver, CO
80208-0500, USA
h
PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Bilthoven, The Netherlands
i
Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
j
Institute for Spatial and Regional Planning, University of Stuttgart, Pfaffenwaldring 7, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany
k
Soil Geography and Landscape Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands
l
Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Columbia University, 61 Route 9W, PO Box 1000, Palisades, NY 10964, USA
m
CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities and Department of Geography, Hunter College—City of New York, 695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA
b
A R T I C L E I N F O
A B S T R A C T
Article history:
Received 7 July 2014
Received in revised form 12 December 2014
Accepted 8 January 2015
Available online 12 February 2015
Long-term scenarios play an important role in research on global environmental change. The climate
change research community is developing new scenarios integrating future changes in climate and
society to investigate climate impacts as well as options for mitigation and adaptation. One component
of these new scenarios is a set of alternative futures of societal development known as the shared
socioeconomic pathways (SSPs). The conceptual framework for the design and use of the SSPs calls for
the development of global pathways describing the future evolution of key aspects of society that would
together imply a range of challenges for mitigating and adapting to climate change. Here we present one
component of these pathways: the SSP narratives, a set of five qualitative descriptions of future changes
in demographics, human development, economy and lifestyle, policies and institutions, technology, and
environment and natural resources. We describe the methods used to develop the narratives as well as
how these pathways are hypothesized to produce particular combinations of challenges to mitigation
and adaptation. Development of the narratives drew on expert opinion to (1) identify key determinants
of these challenges that were essential to incorporate in the narratives and (2) combine these elements in
the narratives in a manner consistent with scholarship on their inter-relationships. The narratives are
intended as a description of plausible future conditions at the level of large world regions that can serve
as a basis for integrated scenarios of emissions and land use, as well as climate impact, adaptation and
vulnerability analyses.
ß 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords:
Scenarios
Climate change
Mitigation
Adaptation
Narratives
Shared socioeconomic pathways
1. Introduction and background
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 303 497 8118; fax: +1 303 497 1333.
E-mail addresses: boneill@ucar.edu (B.C. O’Neill), kriegler@pik-potsdam.de
(E. Kriegler), krisebi@essllc.org (K.L. Ebi), eric.kemp-benedict@sei-international.org
(E. Kemp-Benedict), riahi@iiasa.ac.at (K. Riahi), drothman@du.edu (D.S. Rothman),
vruijven@ucar.edu (B.J. van Ruijven), detlef.vanvuuren@pbl.nl (D.P. van Vuuren),
joern.birkmann@ireus.uni-stuttgart.de (J. Birkmann), kasper.kok@wur.nl (K. Kok),
mlevy@columbia.edu (M. Levy), wsolecki@hunter.cuny.edu (W. Solecki).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.01.004
0959-3780/ß 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Long-term global scenarios have played a key role in climate
change analysis for more than 20 years (Leggett et al., 1992;
Nakicenovic et al., 2000; Raskin et al., 2005; van Vuuren et al.,
2012). While other approaches to characterizing the future exist
(Lempert et al., 2004; Webster et al., 2003), alternative scenarios
170
B.C. O’Neill et al. / Global Environmental Change 42 (2017) 169–180
are an important method for exploring uncertainty in future
societal and climate conditions (Jones et al., 2014). Scenarios of
global development focus on the uncertainty in future societal
conditions, describing societal futures that can be combined with
climate change projections and climate policy assumptions to
produce integrated scenarios to explore mitigation, adaptation and
residual climate impacts in a consistent framework.
Often, societal development scenarios consist of qualitative and
quantitative components (Raskin et al., 2005; Rothman et al., 2007;
Ash et al., 2010; van Vuuren et al., 2012). Quantitative components
provide common assumptions for elements such as population,
economic growth, or rates of technological change that can be
meaningfully quantified and that can serve as inputs to models of
energy use, land use, emissions, and other outcomes. Qualitative
narratives (or storylines) describe the evolution of aspects of
society that are difficult to project quantitatively (such as the
quality of institutions, political stability, environmental awareness, etc.), provide the logic underlying those elements of scenarios
that are quantifiable (and their relationships to each other),
and provide a basis for further elaboration of the scenarios by
users.
A process is under way in the climate change research
community to develop a new set of integrated scenarios
describing future climate, societal, and environmental change
(Moss et al., 2010). This process started with the development of
representative concentration pathways (RCPs) that describe a
set of alternative trajectories for the atmospheric concentrations
of key greenhouse gases (Van Vuuren et al., 2011). Based on
these, climate modelers produced a number of simulations
of possible future climates over the 21st century (Taylor et al.,
2012). In parallel, other researchers are producing a new set of
alternative pathways of future societal development, described
as shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs), and using integrated
assessment models (IAMs) to produce additional quantitative
elements based on them, including future emissions and land
use change. A conceptual framework has been produced for the
development of SSPs (O’Neill et al., 2014) and for how to combine
IAM scenarios based on them with future climate change
outcomes and climate policy assumptions to produce integrated
scenarios (Ebi et al., 2014; van Vuuren et al., 2014; Kriegler et al.,
2014) and support other kinds of integrated climate change
analysis.
However, the specific content (as opposed to the conceptual
framework) of the SSPs and associated IAM scenarios has, until
now, not been presented in the peer-reviewed literature. The focus
of this special issue is to present that content. The SSPs describe
plausible alternative changes in aspects of society such as
demographic, economic, technological, social, governance and
environmental factors. Like many previous characterizations
of future societal development, they include both qualitative
descriptions of broad trends in development over large world
regions (narratives) as well as quantification of key variables that
can serve as inputs to integrated assessment models, large-scale
impact models and vulnerability assessments (Alcamo, 2001). In
this paper we present the SSP narratives, describing the methods
used to develop them, their main features, and open questions
regarding their design and use. Along with the narratives, we
provide tables that summarize trends in key elements of the SSPs.
Other papers in this special issue describe the quantitative
elements of the SSPs, including population and educational
composition (KC and Lutz, 2014), urbanization (Jiang and O’Neill,
2014), and economic growth pathways (Crespo Cuaresma, 2014;
Leimbach et al., 2014; Dellink et al., 2014). An additional set of
papers focus on the integration of the narratives and quantitative
elements of the SSPs into IAM simulations describing the possible
evolution of land use, energy and agricultural systems and
resulting GHG emissions under different SSPs and climate policy
assumptions.
Within the conceptual framework for integrated scenarios, the
SSPs are designed to span a relevant range of uncertainty in societal
futures. Unlike most global scenario exercises, the relevant
uncertainty space that the SSPs are intended to span is defined
primarily by the nature of the outcomes, rather than the inputs or
elements that lead to these outcomes (O’Neill et al., 2014). As such,
the design process begins with identifying a particular outcome
and then identifies the key elements of society that could
determine this outcome. This approach is typically associated
with backcasting, where an end state is already in mind as the
pathways are being developed, although not necessarily assuming
that these states are all desirable (Vergragt and Quist, 2011). Such a
backcasting scenario approach has proven effective in focusing on
those areas of the uncertainty space that are most important in
choosing among alternative options (Groves and Lempert, 2007).
Although the domain of application of climate change scenarios
includes a large range of specific decision-making situations,
they generally cover options to mitigate or adapt to climate
change. Therefore, the SSP outcomes are specific combinations
of socioeconomic challenges to mitigation and socioeconomic
challenges to adaptation (Fig. 1). That is, the SSPs are intended to
describe worlds in which societal trends result in making
mitigation of, or adaptation to, climate change harder or easier,
without explicitly considering climate change itself.
While the focus on challenges to mitigation and adaptation
allows for a more systematic exploration of uncertainties relating
to climate policies, the SSPs can also be useful in other contexts
relating more broadly to sustainable development. This is due
to the fact that socio-economic challenges to mitigation and
adaptation are closely linked to different degrees of socioeconomic development and sustainability, a topic we discuss in
Section 4. Thus, the SSPs can be applied to the analysis of
sustainable development problems without specific reference to
mitigation and adaptation challenges even though these challenges were the starting point for their design. It is, of course,
possible that a backcasting approach that took broader sustainable
development rather than climate change challenges as a starting
point would yield a somewhat different set of SSPs. To this end, the
approach taken here for climate change research may provide a
useful example for the development and use of new scenarios in
sustainable development research.
While the SSPs, and the scenario process more broadly, are
intended to be policy relevant (hence the framing in terms of
challenges to two types of policy responses), the intended direct
[(Fig._1)TD$IG]
Fig. 1. Five shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs) representing different
combinations of challenges to mitigation and to adaptation. Based on Fig. 1
from O’Neill et al. (2014), but with the addition of specific SSPs.
[(Fig._2)TD$IG]
B.C. O’Neill et al. / Global Environmental Change 42 (2017) 169–180
Define objec ve: narra ves
covering uncertainty space of
challenges to adapta on and
mi ga on
Iden fy key elements related to
challenges to mi ga on and
adapta on
No
Do narra ves
meet
objec ve?
Yes
Finalize
pathway
Combine elements: construct
narra ves that imply desired
challenges to mi ga on and
adapta on
Fig. 2. Flow diagram of process for developing SSP narratives.
users of the SSPs are primarily the research and assessment
communities. The framing of SSPs in terms of challenges facilitates
research based on the SSPs that collectively can characterize a
range of uncertainty in the mitigation required to achieve a given
climate outcome, or the adaptation possibilities associated
with that outcome. Development of such a research base, and
its assessment, is a key goal of the scenario process. Thus, the SSPs
are not meant primarily as a direct communication tool for
climate policy advice, but rather as a tool to enable the research
community to produce effective assessments for climate policy
makers. In addition, the SSP framing will facilitate improved
understanding of the determinants of challenges to mitigation and
to adaptation. The SSPs are developed based on the best current
hypotheses about which elements of societal development pathways are the most important determinants of these challenges.
Use of the SSPs in impact, adaptation and mitigation studies will
test those hypotheses and lead to learning that can be used in
future iterations of SSP development.
We consider the narratives presented here to be part of
‘‘basic SSPs’’; that is, they contain enough information to sketch
alternative development pathways that are plausible and that
enable them to be located in a particular area of the challenges
space. However, for many applications, ‘‘extended SSPs’’ are likely
to be required, which would contain additional, more detailed
information for particular regions, sectors, or variables (Van
Ruijven et al., 2014) or that would be enhanced according to
specific needs (e.g. vulnerability and risk assessment tools at
national or sub-national level; Birkmann et al., 2013). For example,
scenario analyses that focus on a particular national or subnational region, or on a particular sector (such as water, health, or
agriculture), will likely benefit from extending these narratives and
their associated quantitative assumptions (Ebi, 2014). Extended
SSPs should use assumptions that are consistent with the basic
SSPs, but that support modeling and analysis that goes beyond the
key variables provided in the basic SSPs.
In Section 2 we describe the development of the narratives.
Section 3 presents summaries of the individual narratives (full
versions are presented in the Supporting Information), along with
thoughts as to how the future societal development pathways they
depict could plausibly emerge from current developments. In
Section 4 we step back to look at the set of narratives as a whole,
noting the key distinctions across the narratives as well as how
they relate to other existing global scenario narratives and the
broader sustainable development context. Section 5 discusses
open questions and concludes.
2. Methods: Development of narratives
The development of the SSP narratives was driven by three
considerations: (1) the general purpose of narratives of societal
171
development in the context of climate change scenarios; (2) the
experience with narratives developed for past climate change
and related scenarios; and (3) the specific role of the SSPs in
the current scenario framework as characterizing societal futures
that have particular combinations of challenges to mitigation
and adaptation.
The general purpose of narratives of societal development in
climate change scenarios is to provide broad descriptions of future
conditions that are relevant for both the analysis of emissions
drivers and mitigation strategies, and the analysis of societal
vulnerability to climate change, climate impacts and potential
adaptation measures. To this end, narratives aim to convey a basic
‘‘storyline’’ that can guide the specification of further elements of
the scenario, including quantitative elements such as population
and economic growth patterns. A narrative of global development
should also be able to guide regional and sectoral extensions of
the scenarios, including the formulation of regional narratives
that fit within the overall global picture. Finally, narratives should
be sufficiently generic to allow useful coverage of the space of
relevant futures by representing much broader categories of
possible development pathways. This distinguishes narratives
underlying climate change scenarios from much richer storylines
that are sometimes used in decision-making contexts to illustrate
the consequences of specific courses of action.
Previous narratives used in climate change scenarios conveyed
the general nature of future development through key characteristics such as economic growth, regional integration, societal
sustainability and environmental sustainability. These characteristics were also used to define sets of representative futures that
cover a desired space of uncertainty for use in scenario analysis.
Interestingly, the types of narratives (and their combinations into
sets) employed in past scenarios exhibited similarities and
recurrent themes (de Vries, 2005; Raskin et al., 2005; van Vuuren
et al., 2012). This fact may point to the relevance of these themes
to climate change analysis, but may also reflect a certain lock-in
to a particular way of framing environmental scenario analysis.
As noted earlier, the current scenario framework calls for
the SSPs, and therefore the narratives, to portray worlds that
have varying challenges to mitigation and to adaptation. These
challenges refer to characteristics of society, not to the amount
of climate change or the stringency of the mitigation policy
(factors that are not included in SSPs). Thus, the narratives
were constructed from socioeconomic and environmental (but
non-climate) elements judged to be important determinants of
these challenges. While much is known about these determinants,
there is still substantial uncertainty (O’Neill et al., 2014),
particularly regarding determinants of the challenges to adaptation (Rothman et al., 2014; Schweizer and O’Neill, 2014).
Taken together, these considerations implied a method that
iterated between desired characteristics of the full narratives
and identification of specific narrative elements and assumptions
(Fig. 2). Content for the SSPs was developed in a variety of
approaches, essentially through expert judgment with a wide
variety of experts from the IAM, IAV, development, futures studies,
and vulnerability and risk research communities providing input
through a series of dedicated meetings1. A first meeting resulted in
the adoption of a set of incipient SSP narratives (O’Neill et al., 2012)
that were further developed at a subsequent meeting through
broader discussion of the drafts and initial quantifications of key
1
For descriptions of the process, see Ebi et al. (2014), and http://sedac.ipcc-data.
org/ddc/ar5_scenario_process/parallel_nat_scen.html. Much of this process was
carried out under the auspices of the International Committee on New Integrated
Climate change assessment Scenarios (ICONICS; https://www2.cgd.ucar.edu/
research/iconics), which was formed to facilitate development and use of the
new scenarios, including the SSPs and their quantitative and qualitative elements.
172
B.C. O’Neill et al. / Global Environmental Change 42 (2017) 169–180
drivers. An author group (consisting of the authors of this paper)
was formed to revise the narratives in light of feedback and to
produce a paper documenting them and their production. As part
of that process, draft narratives were posted for comment by the
scientific community, and 38 pages of comments from
18 reviewers were collected and considered.
Lists of potential narrative elements considered to be important determinants of challenges to mitigation or adaptation
were generated through expert discussions at the meetings
described above, as well as through formal (Schweizer and O’Neill,
2014) and informal (Wilbanks and Ebi, 2014) expert elicitation.
Ultimately, variables in six broad categories were considered to
be important to represent in the SSPs: demographics, human
development, economy and lifestyle, policies and institutions
(excluding climate policies), technology, and environment
and natural resources. This list is not meant to be exhaustive,
but to provide sufficient guidance for developing basic narratives
that – depending on future research needs – can be further
adapted and extended. Principal determinants of challenges
to mitigation, for example, include determinants of energy and
land use, technological progress, and international policy
institutions. In the case of challenges to adaptation, institutional
factors, future inequality and poverty as well as possible
attainment or failure in achieving different development objectives play a critical role.
The process of creating narratives from these elements was
informed by pre-existing narratives from the IPCC Special Report
on Emission Scenarios (Nakicenovic et al., 2000), the Millennium
Ecosystem Assessment (Carpenter et al., 2005), and the UNEP
Global Environment Outlook (GEO) scenarios (UNEP, 2002, 2007),
among other global scenario exercises (van Vuuren et al., 2012).
Possible illustrative starting points for SSP narratives were
described in a number of papers (Kriegler et al., 2012; O’Neill
et al., 2014; Schweizer and O’Neill, 2014), including analogies to
SRES scenarios (Van Vuuren and Carter, 2014), and were
considered by meeting participants and the narratives author
group. Discussions among the author team and further development and revision of the narratives were informed also by work
on the concept of challenges to adaptation (Rothman et al., 2014)
and on the role of governance and political economy (Lane and
Montgomery, 2014).
It was decided to develop five SSPs to span the challenges
space, necessitating five different narratives (Fig. 1; O’Neill et al.,
2014). Four of the narratives (SSP1, SSP3, SSP4, SSP5) describe the
various combinations of high or low challenges to adaptation and
mitigation, all of which were considered plausible enough to
warrant SSP development. A fifth narrative (SSP2) described
moderate challenges of both kinds and is intended to represent a
future in which development trends are not extreme in either of
the dimensions, but rather follow middle-of-the-road pathways
relative to the span of plausible outcomes for each element. Most
approaches to scenario design advocate an even number of
scenarios to discourage use of a single scenario as a central case
(Kok et al., 2006). However, this strategy has not always been
successful, with scenario users sometimes selecting one scenario
as either ‘most likely’ or ‘closest to a model baseline’. This
tendency convinced the SSP design group to explicitly provide a
central pathway. The central case is not meant to be more likely
than any of the other storylines or pathways. In fact, historical
development of GHG emissions has often followed trajectories
close to the upper bound of the range of earlier emissions
scenarios, such as those from SRES (Nakicenovic et al., 2000).
Including a central case was also intended to ensure that the
pathways fill the challenges space and that the other four SSPs not
drift toward the middle space, which might otherwise be
perceived as not well covered.
3. Results: The basic SSP narratives
This section presents summaries of the five narratives
developed to occupy each of the domains of the challenges space,
along with some thoughts as to how the future societal
development pathways they depict could plausibly emerge from
current developments. Somewhat more discussion is provided
for those SSPs, notably SSP4, which are less well represented in
previous scenario exercises. More complete versions of all of the
narratives are included in the Supporting Information. We employ
the metaphor of a road or pathway in naming the SSPs in order
to emphasize that they are intended to describe the evolution of
global and regional development trends over time, rather than
static snapshots of conditions at a particular point in time.
3.1. SSP1: Sustainability—Taking the green road
The world shifts gradually, but pervasively, toward a more
sustainable path, emphasizing more inclusive development
that respects perceived environmental boundaries. Increasing
evidence of and accounting for the social, cultural, and
economic costs of environmental degradation and inequality
drive this shift. Management of the global commons slowly
improves, facilitated by increasingly effective and persistent
cooperation and collaboration of local, national, and international organizations and institutions, the private sector, and
civil society. Educational and health investments accelerate the
demographic transition, leading to a relatively low population.
Beginning with current high-income countries, the emphasis
on economic growth shifts toward a broader emphasis on
human well-being, even at the expense of somewhat slower
economic growth over the longer term. Driven by an increasing
commitment to achieving development goals, inequality is
reduced both across and within countries. Investment in
environmental technology and changes in tax structures lead
to improved resource efficiency, reducing overall energy and
resource use and improving environmental conditions over
the longer term. Increased investment, financial incentives and
changing perceptions make renewable energy more attractive.
Consumption is oriented toward low material growth and
lower resource and energy intensity. The combination of
directed development of environmentally friendly technologies, a favorable outlook for renewable energy, institutions
that can facilitate international cooperation, and relatively
low energy demand results in relatively low challenges to
mitigation. At the same time, the improvements in human
well-being, along with strong and flexible global, regional, and
national institutions imply low challenges to adaptation.
SSP1, with its central features of commitment to achieving
development goals, increasing environmental awareness in societies around the world, and a gradual move toward less resourceintensive lifestyles, constitutes a break with recent history in
which emerging economies have followed the resource-intensive
development model of industrialized countries. To some extent,
elements of this scenario can already be found in the proliferation
of ‘‘green growth’’ and ‘‘green economy’’ strategies in industrialized and developing countries (UNEP, 2011; UNESCAP, 2012),
although their efficacy has been questioned (Bina and La Camera,
2011). As emphasized by Ocampo (2011), for these strategies to
succeed there would need to be innovation in both industrialized
and developing countries and adequate human and financial
resources. Such innovation has been spurred by environmental
policy (Ambec et al., 2013; Porter and van der Linde, 1995), and this
SSP assumes that policy changes are driven by changing attitudes.
The focus on equity, and the de-emphasis of economic growth as a
B.C. O’Neill et al. / Global Environmental Change 42 (2017) 169–180
goal in and of itself in high-income countries, leads industrialized
countries to support developing countries in their development
goals, including green growth strategies, by providing access to
human and financial resources and new technologies.
3.2. SSP2: Middle of the road
The world follows a path in which social, economic, and
technological trends do not shift markedly from historical
patterns. Development and income growth proceeds unevenly,
with some countries making relatively good progress while
others fall short of expectations. Most economies are politically
stable. Globally connected markets function imperfectly. Global
and national institutions work toward but make slow progress
in achieving sustainable development goals, including improved living conditions and access to education, safe water,
and health care. Technological development proceeds apace,
but without fundamental breakthroughs. Environmental
systems experience degradation, although there are some
improvements and overall the intensity of resource and energy
use declines. Even though fossil fuel dependency decreases
slowly, there is no reluctance to use unconventional fossil
resources. Global population growth is moderate and levels off
in the second half of the century as a consequence of completion
of the demographic transition. However, education investments are not high enough to accelerate the transition to low
fertility rates in low-income countries and to rapidly slow
population growth. This growth, along with income inequality
that persists or improves only slowly, continuing societal
stratification, and limited social cohesion, maintain challenges
to reducing vulnerability to societal and environmental changes
and constrain significant advances in sustainable development.
These moderate development trends leave the world, on
average, facing moderate challenges to mitigation and
adaptation, but with significant heterogeneities across and
within countries.
SSP2 does not imply a simple extrapolation of recent experience, but rather a development pathway that is consistent with
typical patterns of historical experience observed over the past
century. For example, emerging economies grow relatively quickly
and then slow as incomes reach higher levels, the demographic
transition occurs at average rates as societies develop, and
technological progress continues without major slowdowns or
accelerations. Thus it is a dynamic pathway, yet one in which
future changes in various elements of the narrative are consistent
with middle of the road expectations, rather than falling near the
upper or lower bounds of possible outcomes. There are likely many
reasons that trends in SSP elements could end up being moderate,
and no specific stance is taken here as to motivating forces.
3.3. SSP3: Regional rivalry—A rocky road
A resurgent nationalism, concerns about competitiveness and
security, and regional conflicts push countries to increasingly
focus on domestic or, at most, regional issues. This trend is
reinforced by the limited number of comparatively weak global
institutions, with uneven coordination and cooperation for
addressing environmental and other global concerns. Policies
shift over time to become increasingly oriented toward national
and regional security issues, including barriers to trade,
particularly in the energy resource and agricultural markets.
Countries focus on achieving energy and food security goals
within their own regions at the expense of broader-based
development, and in several regions move toward more
173
authoritarian forms of government with highly regulated
economies. Investments in education and technological development decline. Economic development is slow, consumption
is material-intensive, and inequalities persist or worsen over
time, especially in developing countries. There are pockets of
extreme poverty alongside pockets of moderate wealth, with
many countries struggling to maintain living standards and
provide access to safe water, improved sanitation, and health
care for disadvantaged populations. A low international priority
for addressing environmental concerns leads to strong environmental degradation in some regions. The combination of
impeded development and limited environmental concern
results in poor progress toward sustainability. Population
growth is low in industrialized and high in developing
countries. Growing resource intensity and fossil fuel dependency along with difficulty in achieving international cooperation and slow technological change imply high challenges to
mitigation. The limited progress on human development, slow
income growth, and lack of effective institutions, especially
those that can act across regions, implies high challenges to
adaptation for many groups in all regions.
SSP3, with its theme of international fragmentation and a world
characterized by regional rivalry can already be seen in some of the
current regional rivalries and conflicts, but contrasts with
globalization trends in other areas. It is based on the assumption
that these globalization trends can be reversed by a number of
events. For example, economic woes in major economies could
spark increasing discontent with globalization and spur protectionist instincts. Alternatively, regional conflict over territorial or
national issues could produce larger conflict between major
countries, giving rise to increasing antagonism between and within
regional blocs. Such a reversal of globalization trends due to
regional conflict has happened before, for example on the eve of
World War I (e.g. Ferguson, 2005). Regional rivalries reduce
support for international institutions and development partners,
thus weakening progress toward development goals, resulting in
substantial changes to current trends in population growth, human
health and well-being, and environmental protection in some lowand middle-income countries.
3.4. SSP4: Inequality—A road divided
Highly unequal investments in human capital, combined with
increasing disparities in economic opportunity and political
power, lead to increasing inequalities and stratification both
across and within countries. Over time, a gap widens between
an internationally-connected society that is well educated and
contributes to knowledge- and capital-intensive sectors of the
global economy, and a fragmented collection of lower-income,
poorly educated societies that work in a labor intensive, lowtech economy. Power becomes more concentrated in a
relatively small political and business elite, even in democratic
societies, while vulnerable groups have little representation in
national and global institutions. Economic growth is moderate
in industrialized and middle-income countries, while low
income countries lag behind, in many cases struggling to
provide adequate access to water, sanitation and health care for
the poor. Social cohesion degrades and conflict and unrest
become increasingly common. Technology development is high
in the high-tech economy and sectors. Uncertainty in the fossil
fuel markets lead to underinvestment in new resources in many
regions of the world. Energy companies hedge against price
fluctuations partly through diversifying their energy sources,
with investments in both carbon-intensive fuels like coal and
unconventional oil, but also low-carbon energy sources.
174
B.C. O’Neill et al. / Global Environmental Change 42 (2017) 169–180
Environmental policies focus on local issues around middle and
high income areas. The combination of some development of
low carbon supply options and expertise, and a well-integrated
international political and business class capable of acting
quickly and decisively, implies low challenges to mitigation.
Challenges to adaptation are high for the substantial
proportions of populations at low levels of development and
with limited access to effective institutions for coping with
economic or environmental stresses.
SSP4, with its emphasis on both across- and within-country
inequality, seems less well represented in previous scenario
literature, and we discuss its assumptions in more detail here. Its
central feature of rising inequality is assumed to arise from a
number of factors discussed in the inequality literature, including
skill-biased technology development (where technology replaces
many low-skill jobs; Jaumotte et al., 2008; Lansing and Markiewicz, 2012) or capital returns (Piketty, 2014). Another key factor is
the assumed generally low and highly unequal investments in
education. Expanded education has been an important contributor
to lowering inequality in the recent past (OECD, 2011; Cornia,
2012); this narrative assumes the converse, that limited access to
education can increase inequality. In addition, less affluent groups
are assumed to have weak political power, fewer economic
opportunities, and limited access to credit (Vindigni, 2002;
Bénabou, 2000), constraining both educational opportunities
and income growth and making inequality more persistent. At
the same time, those at the top end of the income scale (Atkinson
et al., 2010; Roine et al., 2009) see their relative position reinforced
through institutional changes that strengthen their bargaining
power at the expense of low earners (Kumhof and Ranciere, 2010;
Piketty et al., 2011). Across countries, the assumption that growth
results in separation into different country income groups is
consistent with the idea of ‘‘convergence clubs’’ (Galor, 1996;
Quah, 1996a, 1996b) as opposed to the conditional convergence
hypothesis (Barro and Sala-i-Martin, 2003).
There is very mixed evidence on the current inequality trends
within and across countries. Wage inequality across countries has
generally been increasing since 1980 in both OECD and non-OECD
countries (Galbraith, 2011). While a simple population-weighted
measure of international income dispersion is falling, this is almost
entirely due to China, and except in the very recent past, the
measure has been rising when China is excluded (Milanovic, 2012).
Historical experience regarding within-country inequality is
mixed, while SSP4 assumes that it increases in the long term.
For some countries this means that recent trends will eventually
reverse. This is plausible because such improvements can be
temporary. For example, falling inequality within Latin America
appears to be largely due to expanded education and reforms
introduced by leftist governments (Cornia, 2012). SSP4 assumes
increasingly restricted access to education, which could plausibly
halt or reverse improvements. In addition, (Galbraith, 2011) notes
that downturns in inequality from populist governments rarely
endure.
It is also important to note that this pathway envisions a slow
down, but not a halt to or reversal of the growth of the global
middle class. Kharas (2010) defines the global middle class as
consisting of people with daily expenditure between $10 and $100.
He estimates that there are 1.8 billion people in the global middle
class in 2009 ( 25% of the global population), and that this total
could rise to 4.8 billion ( 60%) in 2030, due almost entirely to East
Asia. The SSP4 narrative assumes that growth is substantially
smaller than it is in this outlook, but does not assume that it is
halted entirely.
Finally, the assumptions that inequality and a perception of
scarce energy resources lead to a decline in social cohesion and
increased potential for conflict are consistent with scholarship in
these areas. Empirically, there is a significant negative relationship
between inequality and social cohesion across a variety of
measures (trust, solidarity, dysfunction; Uslaner, 2002; Bjørnskov,
2008; Wilkinson and Pickett, 2009; Kemp-Benedict, 2011;
Paskov and Dewilde, 2012). Similarly, there is historical precedent
for conflict over energy resources in consuming countries
(England, 1994) and in producing countries (Ross, 2004), with
potential for intensification if resources are further constrained
(Lee, 2005).
3.5. SSP5: Fossil-fueled development—Taking the highway
Driven by the economic success of industrialized and emerging
economies, this world places increasing faith in competitive
markets, innovation and participatory societies to produce
rapid technological progress and development of human capital
as the path to sustainable development. Global markets are
increasingly integrated, with interventions focused on maintaining competition and removing institutional barriers to the
participation of disadvantaged population groups. There are
also strong investments in health, education, and institutions to
enhance human and social capital. At the same time, the push
for economic and social development is coupled with the
exploitation of abundant fossil fuel resources and the adoption
of resource and energy intensive lifestyles around the world. All
these factors lead to rapid growth of the global economy. There
is faith in the ability to effectively manage social and ecological
systems, including by geo-engineering if necessary. While local
environmental impacts are addressed effectively by technological solutions, there is relatively little effort to avoid potential
global environmental impacts due to a perceived tradeoff with
progress on economic development. Global population peaks
and declines in the 21st century. Though fertility declines
rapidly in developing countries, fertility levels in high income
countries are relatively high (at or above replacement level) due
to optimistic economic outlooks. International mobility is
increased by gradually opening up labor markets as income
disparities decrease. The strong reliance on fossil fuels and the
lack of global environmental concern result in potentially high
challenges to mitigation. The attainment of human development goals, robust economic growth, and highly engineered
infrastructure results in relatively low challenges to adaptation to any potential climate change for all but a few.
SSP5 foresees accelerated globalization and rapid development
of developing countries, including a significant improvement of
institutions and the economic participation of disadvantaged
population groups. Such trends have little historic precedent,
particularly on the global scale. Only a limited number of nations
have managed the transition to a market economy with effective
institutions (Lane and Montgomery, 2014), and the long-term
prospects of currently rapidly developing economies such as China,
India and Brazil remain uncertain. However, two historically
unprecedented developments in the recent past suggest a break
from past trends. First, the economic success of emerging
economies and more recently least developed countries has given
rise to an emergent global middle class that has been lacking in
most regions of the world (Kharas, 2010). The new middle class
could stabilize global economic development by promoting robust
growth in demand for services and goods. It may also generate
societal pressure toward improved institutions and more participatory societies as for example has been observed in Brazil. Second,
the digital revolution enables a global discourse of a significant and
increasing fraction of the global population for the first time in
human history which may lead to a rapid rise in global institutions
[(Fig._3)TD$IG]
B.C. O’Neill et al. / Global Environmental Change 42 (2017) 169–180
175
and promote the ability for global coordination (Keohane and Nye,
2000).
4. The SSP narratives: Relationships to each other and to
existing narratives
As important as the individual narratives are in and of
themselves, we need to also consider them as a set. Are they
sufficiently distinct in their socioeconomic challenges to mitigation
and adaptation to meet the needs specified in the conceptual
framework? Do they span a wide range of development outcomes?
And how do they relate to other existing global scenario narratives?
Regarding the needs of the conceptual framework, the SSP
narratives aim to capture the combinations of challenges to
mitigation and adaptation illustrated in Fig. 1. SSP1 leads to low
challenges to both mitigation and adaptation due to a combination
of substantial income growth, a reduction in inequality, strong
institutions, and a sustained value shift over time that prioritizes
sustainable development. As discussed above, SSP2 is a scenario
in which elements follow middle-of-the-road trends, leading
to intermediate challenges to both mitigation and adaptation.
In contrast, SSP3 leads to high challenges to both mitigation
and adaptation resulting from slow growth in income and slow
technological change, ineffective institutions, and low investment
in human capital.
SSPs 4 and 5 are mixed scenarios in which a particular set of
challenges dominates. SSP4 is a world in which it may not be too
difficult to mitigate climate change, but would be quite difficult
to adapt to it. A central feature of this pathway is growing
inequality both across and within countries, including in the
currently industrialized world. Mitigation challenges are relatively
low due to modest economic growth combined with availability of
technologies and expertise within the portion of the economy in
which power is concentrated, while adaptation challenges are high
for the substantial portion of the population with relatively low
income education and little access to effective institutions. In SSP5,
economic growth is very high, enabling many development goals
to be achieved within short time frames, so that challenges to
adaptation are relatively low. However energy demand grows
rapidly and the energy system continues to rely heavily on fossil
fuels, leading to high challenges to mitigation.
Fig. 3 summarizes the pathway elements that lead to the
particular combinations of challenges represented by each SSP.
For example, high challenges to mitigation are hypothesized to
be driven in these narratives by fossil-dominated energy supply
either globally or regionally, along with a lack of capacity (or
desire) for international cooperation on global environmental
issues. These challenges are exacerbated in SSP5 by very high
energy demand and in SSP3 by slow technological change. In
contrast, low challenges to mitigation are driven by development
of low-carbon energy technologies (or the capacity for that
development) and effective means of cooperating on international
policy. These challenges are further reduced in SSP1 by a general
orientation toward environmental sustainability.
High challenges to adaptation are assumed to be driven by a
combination of slow development, low investments in human
capital, and increased inequality. These challenges are exacerbated
in SSP3 by ineffective institutions and barriers to trade, and in SSP4
by high inequality within (as well as across) countries. In contrast,
low challenges to adaptation are driven by rapid development
and formation of human capital and reduced inequality, further
reduced in SSP5 by highly engineered infrastructure and in SSP1 by
an orientation toward environmental sustainability.
Regarding the range of development pathways the SSPs
describe, Tables 1–3 summarize assumptions about key elements
of the narratives. The tables show that the SSPs span a wide
Fig. 3. A summary of SSP elements that contribute to high or low challenges to
mitigation (a) and adaptation (b). Elements listed toward the top or bottom of the
challenges space in figure (a) apply to pathways with high or low challenges to
mitigation, respectively, while elements listed toward the left or right side of the
challenges space in figure (b) apply to pathways with low or high challenges to
adaptation, respectively.
range of assumptions about individual elements of the pathways.
Demographic trends vary widely. For example, SSPs 1 and
5 experience low population growth paths at the global level
driven in part by rapid improvements in education, fast income
growth, and rapid urbanization, leading to relatively rapid declines
in fertility in high fertility countries. In contrast, SSPs 3 and
4 experience high population growth rates, a consequence of much
slower improvements in education and income in high fertility
countries. In countries where fertility is already low, there is no
single widely accepted theory of the determinants of future
fertility change (Basten et al., 2014). Therefore, demographic
trends in these countries are not chosen primarily by appealing to
existing theory, but rather to either contribute to the challenges
each SSP is intended to present or increase the range of
demographic outcomes achieved across the full set of SSPs. For
example, the combination of low fertility and migration in SSP3
would produce a very old age structure in the industrialized world,
which could make it more difficult to cope with some types of
climate change impacts. SSP5 assumes high net immigration and
fertility above replacement level in the high-income countries in
order to provide one pathway in which industrialized country
population growth is more substantial.
Economic development is rapid and broad-based in SSPs 1 and
5, which gives rise to substantial reductions in inequality, both
between and within countries, and is accompanied by continued
globalization and international trade. SSP 1 differs in that there is a
B.C. O’Neill et al. / Global Environmental Change 42 (2017) 169–180
176
Table 1
Summary of assumptions regarding demographic and human development elements of SSPs. See KC and Lutz (2014) for the definitions of country fertility groupings for
demographic elements. Country groupings referred to in table entries for human development are based on the World Bank definition of low-income (LIC), medium-income
(MIC) and high-income (HIC) countries.
SSP element
SSP1
SSP2
SSP3
SSP4
SSP5
Country fertility groupings for demographic elements
High
fert.
Demographics
Population
Growth
Fertility
Mortality
Migration
Urbanization
Level
Type
Low
fert.
RichOECD
High
fert.
Low
fert.
RichOECD
High
fert.
Low
fert.
Low
fert.
RichOECD
RichOECD
Medium
Continuation of
historical patterns
Low
Poorly managed
High
High
Med
Mixed across and within cities
High
Better mgmt.
over time,
some sprawl
High
High
Medium
Medium
Low
Low
V.low/uneq.
Low/uneq.
Med/uneq.
Unequal within regions, lower in LICs,
medium in HICs
Unequal within regions, lower in LICs,
medium in HICs
Unequal within regions, lower in LICs,
medium in HICs
Medium
Low, stratified
Low
High
High
Medium
Low
High
Medium
Low
Equity
Social cohesion
Societal participation
High
High
High
Medium
Medium
Medium
Low
Low
Low
Low
Low
Med
Low
fert.
High
Well managed
High
Relatively high
High
Low
High
Med
Medium
High
fert.
Medium
Medium
Medium
Medium
Access to health facilities,
water, sanitation
Gender equality
Low
Low
High
fert.
Relatively low
Low
Low
Med
Low
Medium
Human development
Education
Health investments
High
High
High
High
RichOECD
Relatively low
Low
Low
High
Low
High
High
High
High
High
High
global trade, with implications for development as well as for
challenges to adaptation.
Regarding the relationships of the SSP narratives to those
in previous scenario sets, previous scenarios were commonly
grouped according to assumptions they made about key driving
forces rather than according to outcomes of the narratives such as
their implied challenges to mitigation and adaptation. The SRES
scenarios, for example, are typically described as spanning a space
pronounced value shift, resulting in somewhat less rapid economic
growth as compared to SSP5, but compensated by other factors
such as better environmental quality and higher level of equity.
Accounting for better livelihoods, the environment, equity as well
as other factors, overall welfare is higher in SSP1 as compared
to SSP5. In contrast economic growth is slow and inequality is
compounded in SSPs 3 and 4, with inequality within countries
especially high in SSP4. SSP3 also envisions substantial obstacles to
Table 2
Summary of assumptions regarding Economy & Lifestyle and Policies & Institutions elements of SSPs. Country groupings referred to in table entries are based on the World
Bank definition of low-income (LIC), medium-income (MIC) and high-income (HIC) countries.
SSP element
Economy & lifestyle
Growth (per capita)
Inequality
SSP1
SSP2
SSP3
SSP4
SSP5
High in LICs, MICs;
medium in HICs
Reduced across and
within countries
Medium, uneven
Slow
High
High, especially
across countries
Low in LICs, medium in
other countries
High, especially within
countries
Strongly constrained
Moderate
Strongly reduced,
especially across countries
International trade
Moderate
Uneven moderate
reductions across and
within countries
Moderate
Globalization
Semi-open globalized
economy
Material-intensive
consumption, medium
meat consumption
De-globalizing,
regional security
Material-intensive
consumption
Globally connected elites
Consumption & Diet
Connected markets,
regional production
Low growth in material
consumption, low-meat
diets, first in HICs
Elites: high consumption
lifestyles; Rest: low
consumption, low mobility
High, with regional
specialization in
production
Strongly globalized,
increasingly connected
Materialism, status
consumption, tourism,
mobility, meat-rich diets
Policies & institutions
International
Cooperation
Effective
Relatively weak
Weak, uneven
Improved management
of local and global issues;
tighter regulation of
pollutants
Toward sustainable
development
Effective at national and
international levels
Concern for local
pollutants but only
moderate success in
implementation
Weak focus on
sustainability
Uneven, modest
effectiveness
Low priority
for environmental
issues
Effective for globally
connected economy, not for
vulnerable populations
Focus on local environment
in MICs, HICs; little
attention to vulnerable
areas or global issues
Toward the benefit of the
political and business elite
Effective for political and
business elite, not for rest
of society
Effective in pursuit of
development goals, more
limited for envt. goals
Focus on local environment
with obvious benefits to
well-being, little concern
with global problems
Toward development, free
markets, human capital
Increasingly effective,
oriented toward fostering
competitive markets
Environmental Policy
Policy orientation
Institutions
Oriented toward
security
Weak global institutions/
natl. govts. dominate
societal decision-making
B.C. O’Neill et al. / Global Environmental Change 42 (2017) 169–180
177
Table 3
Summary of assumptions regarding Technology and Environment & Natural Resources elements of SSPs. Country groupings referred to in table entries are based on the World
Bank definition of low-income (LIC), medium-income (MIC) and high-income (HIC) countries.
SSP element
SSP1
SSP2
SSP3
SSP4
SSP5
Technology
Development
Rapid
Medium, uneven
Slow
Rapid
Transfer
Rapid
Slow
Slow
Energy tech change
Directed away from
fossil fuels, toward
efficiency and
renewables
Low
Some investment in
renewables but
continued reliance
on fossil fuels
Medium
Slow tech change,
directed toward
domestic energy sources
Rapid in high-tech
economies and sectors;
slow in others
Little transfer within
countries to poorer
populations
Diversified investments
including efficiency and
low-carbon sources
Low
Uneven, higher in LICs
High in regions with large
domestic fossil fuel
resources
High
Preferences shift away
from fossil fuels
No reluctance to use
unconventional resources
Unconventional resources
for domestic supply
Environment
Improving conditions
over time
Continued degradation
Serious degradation
Land Use
Strong regulations to
avoid environmental
tradeoffs
Medium regulations lead
to slow decline in the
rate of deforestation
Agriculture
Improvements in ag
productivity; rapid
diffusion of best practices
Medium pace of tech change
in ag sector; entry barriers
to ag markets reduced slowly
Hardly any regulation;
continued deforestation
due to competition over
land and rapid expansion
of agriculture
Low technology
development,
restricted trade
defined by their degree of economic vs environmental orientation,
and their regional vs global orientation (Nakicenovic et al., 2000).
The two approaches to developing or describing narratives are
not mutually exclusive. The SSPs can be mapped not only to the
challenges space in Fig. 1, but also to spaces defined by
assumptions about key input elements. For example, it is possible
to map the SSPs to the space defined for the SRES scenarios. The
relatively optimistic SSP1 that is oriented toward sustainability,
and relatively pessimistic SSP3 in which geopolitical regions
fragment rather than globalize, share features with SRES B1 and A2
worlds, respectively (Kriegler et al., 2012; O’Neill et al., 2014;
van Vuuren and Carter, 2014). Similarly, SSP5 – a high economic
growth pathway with a fossil-based energy system – shares
features of the SRES A1F scenario (Kriegler et al., 2012; O’Neill et al.,
2014; van Vuuren and Carter, 2014). There are also relationships
with the storylines of other assessments (see for example Table 1 of
van Vuuren and Carter, 2014). The Millennium Ecosystem
Assessment (MA) scenarios (Carpenter et al., 2005) are interesting
in this respect given their ample attention to narratives. For
example, the MA Order from Strength scenario provides insight
into possible consequences of an SSP4-type world (van Vuuren and
Carter, 2014), while the MA Technogarden scenario shares features
with SSP1.
In summary, existing sets of narratives were often characterized in terms of economic growth, regional integration, societal
sustainability (equity and governance) and environmental sustainability (environmental awareness and lifestyles). The SSPs can
also be mapped to spaces defined by assumptions about these
elements. As illustrated in Fig. 4, such mappings indicate that the
SSPs not only cover the range of challenges to mitigation and
adaptation, but also to a large extent the space of low vs. high
economic growth, low vs. high societal sustainability and low vs.
Low/medium
Directed toward
fossil fuels; alternative
sources not actively
pursued
High
Low/medium
High
Anticipation of constraints
drives up prices with high
volatility
Highly managed and
improved near high/
middle-income living
areas, degraded otherwise
Highly regulated in MICs,
HICs; largely unmanaged in
LICs leading to tropical
deforestation
None
Ag productivity high for
large scale industrial
farming, low for small-scale
farming
Highly engineered
approaches, successful
management of local
issues
Medium regulations
lead to slow decline in
the rate of deforestation
Highly managed,
resource-intensive;
rapid increase
in productivity
high environmental sustainability seen in other scenario sets.
Exceptions are the case of low economic growth combined with
high societal and environmental sustainability, and the case of
medium to high economic growth coupled with low societal and
environmental sustainability. The first case (low growth, high
societal and environmental sustainability) would require an SSP1
variant with a more dramatic shift to lower consumption lifestyles,
sharing some features with existing scenarios such as the Great
Transition (Raskin et al., 2002) and Sustainability First (Rothman
et al., 2007). The second case (high growth, low societal and
environmental sustainability) could be captured in a variant of
SSP4 in which an internationally well-connected society has very
limited environmental awareness and exposure.
The discussion shows that there exists a close link between
socio-economic challenges to mitigation and adaptation, and the
dimensions of sustainability and development. As a result, the SSPs
also cover a wide range of development and sustainability
[(Fig._4)TD$IG]
SSP1
variant
SSP1
SSP5
SSP2
SSP3
SSP4
SSP4
variant
Economic Growth (per capita)
Environmental Sustainability
Energy intensity
Environment &
natural resources
Fossil constraints
Societal Sustainability
Carbon intensity
Rapid
SSP1
variant
SSP4
SSP3
SSP1
SSP2
SSP5
SSP4
variant
Economic Growth (per capita)
Fig. 4. Illustrative mapping of SSPs to a space defined by elements of the SSP
narratives as opposed to consequences of the narratives for challenges to mitigation
and adaptation.
178
B.C. O’Neill et al. / Global Environmental Change 42 (2017) 169–180
outcomes (see Fig. 4). Thus, they can also be a useful tool for the
analysis of broader sustainable development objectives.
5. Discussion and conclusions
There are several open questions about the design and use of
SSPs. First, a broad question remains as to the effectiveness of
pathways characterized by a global sense of the challenges to
mitigation or adaptation they present. If, for example, challenges
to adaptation are dominated by local considerations, and if many of
these considerations have only weak connections to development
trends in other regions or at a larger scale, then a global starting
point for scenario development would seem to be a less effective
approach. We believe that an initial global framing can in fact
be useful, partly because local challenges will depend to some
degree on factors at the regional, national, or international level
(e.g., energy prices, trade possibilities, international institutions,
global competition, technology spill-overs, policies, etc.), and
partly because a global framing serves as a means of deciding
which local assumptions to make, even in those cases in which
there are only weak connections to larger-scale factors (for
example, local assumptions might be made to reflect the same type
and degree of challenges that are the intention of the global
pathway). However, it will be important for the lessons learned in
carrying out studies in more specific contexts to be communicated
to and incorporated in any revision process for global scale
narrative development.
Second, it was already clear in the narrative design process
that more than one type of narrative could be located within a
particular domain of the challenges space. Which type might be
most useful, or whether the development of more than one type
per domain would be useful, remains to be seen. For example, as
discussed in Section 4, an alternative SSP1 storyline could be
envisioned that involves a substantially larger shift in values
toward lower consumption lifestyles, leading to a version of the
narrative with much lower economic growth and energy demand.
Similarly, an alternative version of SSP2 could be developed in
which challenges to mitigation and adaptation were moderate on
average across regions, but varied widely from region to region,
rather than being more uniformly middle-of-the-road as assumed
in the SSP2 narrative presented here. These regional differences
could arise from, for example, current trends in water security
without considering any potential impacts of climate change
(which are outside the SSPs). The storylines presented in this
paper are canonical, but the canon is not exclusive. To make a
broadly useful framework for climate scenario development, it will
benefit the research community if alternative storylines that can
be located within a particular domain of the challenges space are
explicitly identified as such.
Third, it may also be useful to consider narratives describing
development pathways that move through more than one domain
of the challenges space over time. The approach taken by the
narratives presented here is to describe development pathways
that move from current conditions toward futures in which the
challenges to mitigation and adaptation are progressively more
and more consistent with the intended outcome for the SSP.
However it is possible that a development pathway could move
toward one combination of challenges before changing direction
and moving toward another. For example, surprises may drive
such a change. In a world developing along the pessimistic SSP3
narrative, a surprise breakthrough in mitigation technology may
quickly lower the challenges to mitigation and move society into
the SSP4 domain. Exploring development pathways that move
through more than one domain may be an especially effective
way to consider how fast societal trends may change, whether
path dependency may limit the long-term futures that could
follow from trends over the next few decades, and ultimately how
these factors may influence challenges to mitigation and
adaptation.
In addition to these open questions, it is also important to
keep in mind that the narratives presented here are qualitative
components of basic SSPs. Extensions to these narratives will
in many cases be required to support more detailed analyses of
climate response options and impacts in particular sectors or
locations (van Ruijven et al., 2014) and risk and vulnerability
assessments at different scales. Examples of extensions are already
beginning to appear. In order to produce the SSP-based integrated
assessment model scenarios that appear in this special issue, SSPs
had to be extended to provide more detailed assumptions about
future energy systems and land use in order to specify required
inputs to IAMs. Ebi (2014) has elaborated on the public healthrelated aspects of the narratives, and Birkmann et al. (2013)
elaborated on the risk and vulnerability aspects in the context of
climate change and natural hazards. In addition, extensions known
as ‘‘representative agricultural pathways’’ to support agricultural
impact assessment are under development for the Agricultural
Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP). Moreover, extensions with respect to the pollution and health
dimension of the SSPs are discussed in several other places.
Capturing lessons from experience gained in applying the SSPs
to integrated climate change research, as well as in extending
them to particular sectors and geographic scales, should be a
high priority. In that way future revisions of the narratives, or the
development of additional narratives, will most effectively support
integrated climate change research.
Appendix A. Supplementary data
Supplementary data associated with this article can be found,
in the online version, at doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.01.004.
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SSP Rubric
Criteria
Ratings
Pts
Naming
SSPS
2 pts
Full Marks
1 pts
Half Marks
O pts
No Marks
2 pts
Explicitly names 2 SSPs.
Explicitly names one SSP.
Doesn’t name any SSPs.
Content
O pts
6 pts
Full Marks
No Marks
Contains thorough and engaging
descriptions of the student’s
technology use in each potential
future, well-connected to the details
of that SSP.
1 pts
Half Marks
Contains imprecise or unimaginative
descriptions of the student’s technology
use in each potential future, or descriptions
that are not well-connected to the SSPs.
6 pts
Descriptions of
technology use and/or
connection to SSPs are
missing, incorrect, or
similarly flawed.
Writing
Quality
2 pts
O pts
1 pts
Half Marks
No Marks
Full Marks
Text is error-free. Total length is within 50
words of required length. Demonstrates
successful use of conventions particular to a
specific discipline and/or medium including
organization, content, presentation,
formatting, and stylistic choices.
Text has some errors, but they don’t impede
comprehension. Total length is within 100
words of the required length. Follows
expectations appropriate to a specific
discipline and/or medium for basic
organization, content, and presentation.
2 pts
Writing
significantly
impedes
understanding
of ideas, or
includes little to
no writing to
evaluate.
Total Points: 10
Socio-economic
challenges for mitigation
* SSP 5:
* SSP 3:
(Mit Challenges Dominato
(High Challenges)
Fossil-fueled
Regional Rivalry
Development
A Rocky Road
Taking the Highway
* SSP 2:
intermediate Chaloges)
Middle of the Road
* SSP 1:
(Low Challenges)
Sustainability
Taking the Green Road
* SSP 4:
(Adapt. Challenges Dominate)
Inequality
A Road Divided
Socio-economic challenges

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