Impacts on Climate Change - Improving Scenario Studies
Europe has to deal with all kind of climate risks such as more heat stress and droughts, exceptional much rain and new pests and diseases. It is therefore essential that climate change related scenarios and strategies are included in policies such as the European Commission’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Habitats Directive, and 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
In order to achieve this, policymakers need clear outcomes of reliable scenario studies. Companies and farmers also need reliable simulation models that can help them to make decisions.
Livestock, grassland, crops and farms
To improve scenario studies, the Knowledge Hub MACSUR was setup under FACCE-JPI in 2012. National agencies have contributed 13 million euro to this Hub. MACSUR has brought together more than three hundred European experts from 70 institutes in modelling grasslands, livestock, crops, farms, and agricultural trade.
They have refined simulation models and datasets, linked models from different sectors (for example: integrating crop models with trade models), and trained young scientists. The researchers have also adapted existing crop, livestock and trade models in such a way that they can now include climate and land use change, and respond to adaptation measures.
Yields, prices and labour requirements
Before the start of MACSUR, most models could only answer questions at one level, for example: What will happen to the yield of crop A or B when deprived of water or certain nutrients? Now, integrated models can answer more complex questions such as: What will happen to the yields, prices and labour requirements in Andalucía, Scotland or Tirol, when farmers start to grow alternative crops (as an adaptation measure) under the expected climate conditions until 2050?
MACSUR’s experts have published their improved assessments in 200 scientific articles, the Hub has led to 31 Phd studies, and the network has ensured that agriculture has been given a central place in the Paris Climate Agreement.
The achievements of the Knowledge Hub FACCE MACSUR are numerous. They include: the creation of a forum for knowledge exchange across science disciplines, the adoption of good-practice examples from other scientific communities, structured description of models and comparisons of model performance, selection of regional case studies as showcases of integrated and inter-disciplinary modelling work, training of young scientists, development of European Representative Agricultural Pathways as input to global scenario exercises, development of a data classification and rating tool for exploration of existing data sets, advancement of knowledge in modelling of crop production, grassland production, price development, collaboration on new funded projects, more than hundred papers on methodological aspects of modelling food security published in peer-reviewed journals, and participation in international scientific conferences and workshops.
Stronger science-policy dialogue
Next steps include a stronger science-policy dialogue, to make the models and their outcomes more useful for policy makers, companies and farmers (Implementation Plan). To this end, FACCE-JPI is considering a new type of Knowledge Hub that will concentrate entirely on knowledge transfer and valorisation. The upcoming Knowledge Hub SciPol aims at creating a science-policy interface to facilitate the strategic responses of Member States on climate change adaptation and mitigation challenges that are related to the agriculture and food sector.