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COP21: Results and Implications for Pathways and Policies for Low Emissions European Societies

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) researchers Dr Annela Anger-Kraavi and Dr Sanna Markkanen are part of a major research consortium to explore the implications of the Paris Agreement secured at COP21 for EU policy.

The COP21: Results and Implications for Pathways and Policies for Low Emissions European Societies (RIPPLES) project takes an interdisciplinary approach. It aims to analyse the energy systems and economic transformations required in order to implement commitments countries made in Paris, and to investigate what steps are needed to attain deeper, more ambitious decarbonisation, as well as the socioeconomic consequences that this transition will trigger.

Such analysis is urgent. Next year, as agreed in the Paris Agreement, countries will hold a ‘facilitative dialogue’ to see how they can increase the ambition of their national commitments (also known as Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs) in 2020.

The international consortium of 18 different institutions delivering the project is led by the Paris-based Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), and the full list of partners and other details are available on the project website.

The project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730427 (COP21 RIPPLES).


Looking at the social angle

CISL’s work will explore the social implications of climate change policies, with a particular focus on inequality. Widespread inequalities exist in terms of health, wealth, gender and access to employment and democratic processes, and the impacts of climate change are unevenly spread across regions and populations, with the greatest burden caused by the changing climate often falling on those who have the least.

Climate change policies, such as measures to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy generation, may address some of these inequalities through health improvements and improved access to energy, but they can also have unintended negative consequences that exacerbate inequalities or create new ones. To minimise the risk of such negative social impacts, policymakers need comprehensive and objective information about the social impacts that may arise from specific policies and initiatives, and guidance for how they can be managed.


Our approach

Our task can be broken into two separate components. The first component involves collecting evidence of direct and indirect risks and benefits of climate change policies, as well as approaches to mitigate potential risks. The information will be organised systematically, identifying where possible how different contexts will affect likely outcomes.

The second component will be to focus on a small number of in-depth country case studies that can illustrate the issues in a variety of contexts.

Policies for adapting to the impacts of climate change will be included in our work where they are intertwined policies to reduce carbon emissions, which are our main focus.

Out of this work we hope to develop a ‘toolkit’ for policymakers, businesses and other interested parties who are involved in climate policy to help them to holistically consider the positive impacts, co-benefits and potentially negative implications of a range of actions.

For more information on CISL's involvement in RIPPLES, please contact


Dr Annela Anger-Kraavi, Senior Research Associate

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