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Keywords:

  • environmental scenarios;
  • policy;
  • governance;
  • climate change;
  • uncertainty;
  • barriers

Abstract

Scenario-based exercises can contribute to policy debates on climate change responses, intended to help policy-makers visualize future worlds and help guide and develop adaptive strategies. This study explores the use of scenarios by policy-advisors within three institutions: the European Environment Agency, the European Commission and Scottish public bodies. Respondents pointed to different approaches to scenario identification and use as well as barriers to wider use of the method. A range of benefits of using scenarios was highlighted. Amongst the suggestions for better implementation offered by interviewees was the need for a scenario toolkit. An array of scenario systems (representing both climate change scenarios and socio-economic scenarios) are being used by policy-advisors and the paper concludes that the role for scenario exercises in planning and communications work derives from their capacity to develop imaginative thinking. Recommendations are proposed for improving practice. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.