A framework for complex climate change risk assessment

N.P. Simpson*, K.J. Mach, A. Constable, J. Hess, R. Hogarth, M. Howden, J. Lawrence, R.J. Lempert, V. Muccione, B. Mackey, M.G. New, B. O'Neill, F. Otto, H.-O. Pörtner, A. Reisinger, D. Roberts, D.N. Schmidt, S. Seneviratne, S. Strongin, M. van AalstE. Totin, C.H. Trisos

*Corresponding author for this work

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Real-world experience underscores the complexity of interactions among multiple drivers of climate change risk and of how multiple risks compound or cascade. However, a holistic framework for assessing such complex climate change risks has not yet been achieved. Clarity is needed regarding the interactions that generate risk, including the role of adaptation and mitigation responses. In this perspective, we present a framework for three categories of increasingly complex climate change risk that focus on interactions among the multiple drivers of risk, as well as among multiple risks. A significant innovation is recognizing that risks can arise both from potential impacts due to climate change and from responses to climate change. This approach encourages thinking that traverses sectoral and regional boundaries and links physical and socio-economic drivers of risk. Advancing climate change risk assessment in these ways is essential for more informed decision making that reduces negative climate change impacts. © 2021 The Authors
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-501
Number of pages13
JournalOne earth
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2021


  • aggregate risk
  • cascading risk
  • climate change
  • climate risk assessment
  • complex climate change risks
  • compound risk
  • risk determinants
  • risk drivers
  • risk interactions
  • risk response


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