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IPCC 1.5 °C Global Warming Special Report adopts transitions approach

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the impacts of 1.5% global warming, published on 8 October 2018, has explicitly adopted the socio-technical transitions approach and has referred to work by a number of CIED researchers.

The report, which looked at scenarios that are consistent with 1.5 °C global warming, the potential impacts and associated risks of projected climate change and how the global response in the context of the sustainable development goals can be strengthened; has emphasised the need for rapid and deep transitions in energy, land-use, transport, industry and other systems.

It cites work by several CIED members – past and present – on energy transitions including research by Director Professor Benjamin Sovacool, co-Directors Professor Frank Geels, Professor Steven Sorrell and Dr Tim Schwanen, Dr Karoline Rogge, Dr Paula Kivimaa, Dr Kirsten Jenkins and Dr Florian Kern. The report extensively employs socio-technical transitions and innovation studies literatures to highlight the importance of the way the co-evolution of technology and society can help accelerate transformative change.

The socio-technical approach helps understand the way innovations happen in the context of an existing system that may provide barriers and resistance. CIED uses the socio-technical transitions approach to investigate the emergence, diffusion and impact of low energy innovations. Professor Frank Geels is a world leading scholar and key proponent of this approach.

The IPCC 1.5 °C report responds to the invitation to provide a special report on the impacts of 1.5°C global warming contained in the Decision of the 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change to adopt the Paris Agreement.

Prof Sovacool and Prof Geels are also lead authors on the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report; both researchers part of Working Group III looking at climate change mitigation.

The IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. It provides policy makers with regular scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and risks as well as to put forwards adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Read the report.