Sustainable management of global commons
The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research is modeling sustainable transformation pathways to identify the best strategies for global climate protection and sustainable management of the global commons within planetary boundaries.
By adopting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the 2015 Paris Agreement, the international community established important mechanisms for effectively tackling human-induced climate change. The agreements also stipulate that the necessary transformation processes must be designed in such a way that they address other current global challenges as well. Accordingly, such processes should aim both to overcome societal challenges (such as poverty and hunger) and to preserve and regenerate other global commons. (for example, biogeochemical cycles, biodiversity and polar ice sheets).
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But which techno-economic transformation pathways possess most potential and are most effective in terms of yielding a “holistic” outcome? How do individual measures aimed at curbing climate change impact upon the other sustainable development goals or other global commons? To what extent do measures lessen each other’s impact or lead to unwanted side effects? And – equally as important – how can measures be combined in such a way as to create positive synergies between them?
These and other similar questions are being investigated by a team of researchers from research departments 3 (Transformation Pathways) and 2 (Climate Resilience) in a project entitled “Global Commons Stewardship Framework”. The project, which started at the beginning of 2021, is managed and coordinated by the Center for Global Commons (CGC) at the lead university, the University of Tokyo. The idea behind global commons stewardship is that a widespread, global “movement” is the only way to maintain – or return to – a form of global commons management that is within the planetary boundaries and complies with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
PIK will provide fundamental expertise on the project and model various transformation pathways that could enable the global commons to be managed in a sustainable way. The findings from these model-based analyses can be used to determine which strategies and (combinations of) measures are best suited to making climate protection and sustainable development pathways mutually compatible, and where there might be limitations on that compatibility.
In addition, the PIK researchers’ contribution to the project will include expanding the REMIND-MAgPIE-LPJmL Integrated Assessment Model (IAM) that is to be used. This will involve giving more consideration, on the one hand, to the effects of climate change, especially the impact of extreme weather events, on the energy system, economic growth, inequalities in and between countries and on terrestrial ecosystems and land-use systems. On the other, the team will develop enhanced solutions and measures to concentrate more on the contributions made by, for instance, soil carbon management, peatland protection and restoration, afforestation, a healthy (low-meat) diet and a range of measures in the field of industrial production (including increased material and process efficiency and carbon capture and utilization).
The REMIND (REgional Model of Investment and Development) energy sector model and MAgPIE (Model of Agricultural Production and its Impact on the Environment) land use model, which itself incorporates information from the LPJmL (Lund-Potsdam-Jena managed Land) land biosphere model, together form the Potsdam Integrated Assessment Modelling Framework (PIAM).