The Missing Risks of Climate Change
The risks of climate change are enormous, threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions to billions of people. The economic consequences of many of the complex risks associated with climate change cannot, however, currently be quantified. Here we argue that these unquantified, poorly understood and often deeply uncertain risks can and should be included in economic evaluations and decision-making processes.
We present an overview of these unquantified risks and an ontology of them founded on the reasons behind their lack of robust evaluation. These consist of risks missing owing to delays in sharing knowledge and expertise across disciplines, spatial and temporal variations of climate impacts, feedbacks and interactions between risks, deep uncertainty in our knowledge, and currently unidentified risks. We highlight collaboration needs within and between the natural and social science communities to address these gaps. We also provide an approach for integrating assessments or speculations of these risks in a way that accounts for interdependencies, avoids double counting and makes assumptions clear. Multiple paths exist for engaging with these missing risks, with both model-based quantification and non-model-based qualitative assessments playing crucial roles.
A wide range of climate impacts are understudied or challenging to quantify, and are missing from current evaluations of the climate risks to lives and livelihoods. Strong interdisciplinary collaboration and deeper engagement with uncertainty is needed to properly inform policymakers and the public about climate risks.